Instagram vs. TikTok: which is better?


Fact Box

  • Instagram is a “photo-sharing social networking app that enables users to take pictures and edit them with a selection of digital filters.” It also offers video sharing via the Instagram Stories feature to compete with SnapChat’s Stories and the short-form video feature Reels to compete with TikTok. 
  • As of July 2021, the Instagram account with the most followers (over 315 million) worldwide was soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Owned by Beijing-based tech company ByteDance, TikTok gained worldwide prominence after acquiring the lip-syncing app in 2018. 
  • The most viewed TikTok video of 2020 was Bella Poarch’s lip sync of M to the B by artist Millie B, amassing over 547 million views.

Mark (Instagram)

Instagram has been and continues to be superior to TikTok. Aside from the fact that it boasts over 1 billion users, Instagram also has the edge in longevity. Additionally, Instagram is simpler to navigate and customize in order to bypass undesired content--TikTok's signature 'raw content' could easily be seen by the wrong audience. Instagram is also more reputable than TikTok, especially in light of the $5.7 million fine TikTok paid in 2019 for collecting personal data from users under the age of 13. Not to mention the dangerous viral challenges that TikTok is known for. 

Instagram has been called the ideal app for 'influencer marketing.' It's great for identifying and targeting an audience and connecting with compatible communities--an aspect rooted in Instagram's being a proven commodity in the social media marketplace. It has grown exponentially, literally from its inception, and continues to expand as a platform. It's safe to extrapolate that TikTok still has miles to go to compete with Instagram on any level. 

As with any industry, perception is the reality for social media. Most content creators still view TikTok as infantile and unreliable; therefore, they gravitate to Instagram by proxy. Instagram has also demonstrated its success in regulating consistent income for content creators, while TikTok has shown wildly unpredictable trends in this regard. Instagram is the ideal app for advertising because it focuses on engaging images that can immediately resonate with potential consumers.

It's plain to see that not only was Instagram doing it first--they're still doing it better. 

Zoe (TikTok)

Sensing the recent exploding success of TikTok, Instagram developed its new 'Reels' feature to be in direct competition; however, TikTok uses the short video format better and offers a superior social media experience for various reasons. One of those reasons is TikTok's proprietary features, such as Duet, Stitch, and Reaction, allowing users to interact with one another in new and creative ways that simply cannot be done on Instagram. TikTok also has a vast catalog of music for creators, whereas a business account on Instagram must create its own music or use royalty-free music to create a Reel. Finally, with a 3-minute option, TikTok allows for a medium-length video category that Instagram does not currently possess.

Features aside, TikTok's algorithm is also superior to Instagram's, as it weighs user reactions heavily in its calculations. The criteria for Instagram's Reels’ algorithm are less clear; however, it is newer than TikTok's and has had less time to develop. With TikTok's organic reach, it has often been regarded as the best place for getting the right content to the right users, an accolade that Instagram has not received to the same degree.

Overall, public preference weighs in TikTok's favor in multiple ways. While Instagram continues to lead in popularity, TikTok has shown higher growth, particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic started, with 113 million installs in February 2020. Conversely,

Instagram's growth has fallen from 5% to 3.4% per quarter. At the current rate, TikTok is expected to surpass Instagram, although only time will tell.

Finally, TikTok's authenticity and focus on content over film quality makes its videos more accessible and thus representative of 'real youth culture.' The future is TikTok.

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