August 23, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’re responsible for keeping your brand focused on the right social platforms and leveraging the right influencer partnerships, you’ve probably spent some time wondering whether you should focus on TikTok or Instagram.
TikTok and Instagram both offer distinct attractions for their users. While both are visual, TikTok is more audio and music-driven and has a more creative and spontaneous feel to much of its content. Instagram, on the other hand, is a more established platform with a more polished aesthetic. Because of its longevity, a sophisticated advertising and influencer network has developed on its ecosystem, which can make it easier to venture into known-commodity partnerships with influencers.
Where are your time and resources best spent, and what differentiates the two? The right answer often differs for each brand and that the difference depends on their audience and goals.
What’s your target audience demographic?
The platform you prefer may vary depending on which types of users you’re seeking to connect with. TikTok’s overall audience skews younger, with half of all Gen Z American adults accessing the platform, as compared to only 22 percent of millennials and 14 percent of the 50-64 cohort.
Instagram has a wider user base among all demographics, with 48 percent of 30-49 year olds on the platform and a third of the 50-64 age range. Its growth has stabilized and it’s not experiencing the same rapid user base expansion as TikTok.
How are you hoping to get seen?
Instagram has an advantage on influencer choice, because the network is more established and there are more influencers working there. Because Instagram has been an influencer option for a while, influencers may have a formula in place and be more certain about tried-and-true ways to gain attention from their specific audiences.
Sponsored content and advertising make frequent and expected appearances in Instagram users’ news feeds, while on TikTok, only 5.7% of content creators post about brands, products, or services on a daily basis. That number grows to just 17.3% on a weekly basis, with 60.8% of content creators reporting that they have never shared sponsored content on the app, as per our most recent research where we polled 1,743 influencers from more than 20 countries. This is, by far, one of TikTok’s greatest advantages and presents a great opportunity for marketers looking to capture people’s attention in a less saturated space.
Which metrics are you using to gauge success?
TikTok’s structure and users’ top content interests (#comedy and #dance) mean marketing efforts need to be more subtle, humorous and creative to attract interest. It’s not the platform for a hard sell nor for brands who want to have tight and rigid control of influencer content.
However, it is the ideal place to level up on organic engagement and to create relationships that may boost loyalty and migrate followers over to your other social platforms. In fact, 87.1 percent of TikTok influencers and content creators say their engagement rate is higher than on other platforms.
TikTok’s potential reach also far outstrips any other social platform because its algorithm doesn’t limit views, so if you’re planning campaigns that grow reach and awareness, TikTok might be the best place for your influencer marketing efforts.
If your focus is on a quicker sales cycle or moving your target audience from the middle to the bottom of the sales funnel, you may be better off with a consistent storytelling strategy on Instagram Stories where you link directly to your landing page or ecommerce site.
How well-versed are you in influencer marketing?
Do you already have an established influencer program, or are you just getting started? Your own knowledge level may influence the direction you lean with your platform choice.
If you’re accustomed to working with influencers and have a good grasp on your goals and metrics, you may feel ready to venture directly on to TikTok. You’ll know where you need to go and what you need to do, and you can guide the partnership based on your previous experience, especially if you use an influencer database to source the right people for your niche.
If you’re new to the influencer marketing world, you may want to leverage the knowledge of Instagram influencer partners.
Instagram influencers we surveyed said they typically spend at least three hours daily using the platform, which means they likely have their audiences’ likes, dislikes, and propensities down to a science. If you can source the right influencers for your campaigns, you can rely on them to serve as co-strategists as you plan your new influencer marketing campaigns.
In our recent study on TikTok influencer marketing, marketers surveyed said that analytics and tracking is one of their biggest TikTok challenge areas. If you’re confident in your influencer marketing knowledge, and you’re willing to experiment a little, you can easily and creatively overcome these challenges and get attention in a less saturated market.
Is there a clear winner for brands building an influencer marketing strategy?
In the battle for brand positioning, there’s no clear winner between these two powerhouse platforms. Instead, you can find the right place to showcase your business when you think strategically and evaluate which media sources your ideal buyer consumes.
Not many things in business come down to feeling alone, but you can evaluate which brand feels like a natural fit based on the criteria we mentioned, then continue to adjust while monitoring performance data.
You may find that one platform is clearly right for your brand or you may see opportunities to connect with your target audience across both. As each platform refines its offerings, algorithm, and business-focused features, you can continue to experiment accordingly with your strategy.
And, if you find you’re ready to dive into something new, TikTok can provide a welcome platform for experimentation. By getting your brand in the space, you can see where content is resonating for your audiences, define your goals, then align with the right creators and make a splash.