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TikTok VS. Instagram - The Influencer War

by Ally Kim

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TikTok VS Instagram - The Influencer War

Some people may find it hard to understand the recent craze over TikTok, but there’s something all these influencers know that the others don’t. TikTok has quickly become the main social media platform for both rising and established influencers due to its key unique features that help posts gain exposure while maintaining consistent reach. In contrast, Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm becomes more restrictive as the influencer grows their audience. In plain non-jargon terms, the organic reach on TikTok is meaningful, whereas, on Facebook or Instagram, the organic reach is almost non-existent.  Let’s examine the TikTok platform and why we think this macro trend will continue.

A new format of content delivery

The structure of TikTok’s content delivery is almost backward from what we’re used to seeing. For example, on Instagram, we see the content of people we know and follow, then Instagram’s algorithm suggests new people or influencers through its “Explore” page. But on TikTok, content is curated for us first, then we have the option to follow any one of those creators. This means influencers gain more overall exposure on TikTok, in a way that Instagram doesn’t provide.

A finely tuned algorithm

Of all its valuable features, the algorithm is responsible for a majority of TikTok’s success. As soon as you download the app, it begins curating your perfect feed. As a user myself, I can attest to how quickly TikTok personalized my feed. This is a major benefit for brands as TikTok’s algorithm will naturally deliver their content to the correct audience. Essentially, there’s no more reason to look for those golden leads — now they’ll come to you. 

Versatile content

The versatility of the app’s content plays a huge role in the popularity of TikTok. Users’ videos can gain exposure whether it’s professionally filmed or self-recorded on an iPhone; anything goes. Not only is video resolution no longer criticized, but there is also no limit on the subject matter itself — users even refer to the app as “TikTok University” as it brings awareness to subject matters they’d never heard of before. At the beginning stages of TikTok, it used to be seen as ‘just an app for kids,’ however, parents have now infiltrated TikTok.  This in and of itself has created several new verticals of interest for brands to target audiences.

TikTok isn’t selling a dream

Another key difference is that there is a noticeable lack of lust accounts on TikTok, opposed to Instagram. We all know these somewhat “catfish-y” accounts, but like anything, you can only do so many model poses showing off your fabulous, travel-filled life. However, on TikTok, influencers are creating funny, relatable, and informative videos. The platform has everything from DIY, cooking, politics, health, fitness, finance, and the list goes on and on. 

Wrap Up: TikTok vs. Instagram

Though TikTok has many advantages over Instagram, there are still key aspects that only Instagram has perfected. Instagram provides a stable platform to grow followers while TikTok provides the initial opportunity to “get noticed”. Though TikTok offers everyone an equal chance in the spotlight, Instagram helps you stay there; this is because Instagram’s tools for engagement are much more advanced. While TikTok offers comments and direct messaging to stay engaged with followers, Instagram provides swipe-up links, direct shopping through the app, and the ability to brand your account as a business profile rather than personal. It should be noted that TikTok has recently added swipe-up functionality for brands that use Shopify. It does appear TikTok is squarely focused on the D2C market as they’ve also added a link in profile functionality over a year ago. 

The two social media networks can work hand-in-hand for influencers — TikTok simply dealt with the bottlenecks that Instagram was not able to resolve: users discovering new influencers, providing brands with their ideal consumers, supporting versatile content, and promoting authenticity. In summary, both platforms have advantages, BUT if your objective is organic influencer marketing, TikTok is by far the best choice.

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