TikTok vs Instagram – What is the Right Platform to Choose?

12 September, 2020
George Pappas
7min read


  • Audience demographics (numbers and reach) 
  • Influencer marketing 
  • User generated content  
  • G Squared recommendations and case study reference  

When it comes to choosing which social media platforms your brand should be investing in, it pays to know how to navigate the ever-changing digital landscape. With the rise of TikTok, a popular short-form video sharing platform rivalling Instagram, it poses the question, which platform should you have a presence on and which is going to achieve better results? There are several aspects to take into consideration such as your target market, goals and budget. In this blog we consider the pros and cons of both, industry updates that might affect shopping, audience demographics, influencer marketing and sourcing user generated content (UGC).  

Pros of Instagram 

  • Provides a visual platform that allows for creative expression

Instagram allows a wide range of mediums and has recently launched its new ‘Reels’ feature which boasts short form video like TikTok. Along with Reels, you can upload static images, videos or post to IGTV which supports longer video durations. Users can even shop on Instagram!  

  • High engagement rates

Instagram has the highest engagement rate out of all the social media platforms exhibiting roughly a 3% engagement rate. This means that consumers are more likely to engage with your content on Instagram by liking, sharing and saving

  • Easy to connect and find your target audience


Connecting with your target audience on Instagram is easy. With the use of hashtags or targeted ads, you can put your content where it needs to be.  

  • Instagram Paid Advertising

    Paid advertising allows digital marketers to reach out to those who matter most. You can target specific demographics, locations, interests and behaviors in app, in ads manager and through Instagram partners. Instagram advertising has been around for 

    a while, the interface is streamlined and simple to use. 


  • Stories and Live Feature

    With the launch of stories in 2016, Instagram saw an increase of time spent on the app by 8 minutes. Instagram stories can show a more authentic side to a brand as they disappear in 24 hours and require less production. Instagram live takes priority in the story line up and allows for a real connection to your followers.

  • Buildingcommunity

    Instagram comments and direct messaging within the app has allowed for a brand’s  community to foster. Direct messaging if managed well, can result in an increase in sales

     and comments can increase your engagement and brand trust.

  • Analytics

    Instagram has comprehensive in-app insights which outline your content performance, your activity and audience. This feature is advantageous when you want a quick snapshot of your performance on Instagram of your content and engagement strategies. 


Cons of Instagram 

  • Can be costly to create high quality content

    Nowadays, there is an expectation for brands to create aesthetic and useful content that is both creative and captivating. Popular trends surround the aesthetics of your Instagram “grid”, turning it into an elaborate on-brand mood board. Due to this, you need to find the resources to create captivating content which can be difficult for smaller brands. There is a reason why many brands are outsourcing digital and content marketing!


  • Content overload 

With all the entertaining features Instagram offers, users could potentially experience a content overload and switch over to simpler platforms like TikTok.  

  • Does not support clickable links

    Instagram aspires for brands to focus on creating fun and engaging content that keeps users on the platform for long periods of time. Coming across as spammy should be avoided at all costs. This can be challenging for brands who want traffic directed to a website. Luckily, there are new ways to get around this such as using your link in bio. 


  • Mobileoptimised

    Although Instagram is updating its platform to be more desktop friendly, such as allowing users to access DM’s on desktop, it is predominately used on mobile which could limit reach. 


Pros of TikTok: 

  • Exposure to billions of users

TikTok was again the most downloaded non-gaming app in September 2020, with over 800 million downloads. You are also more likely to go viral on Tik Tok due to their unique delivery algorithm.  

  • Reach new markets and consumers who display an interest in your product/service

    TikTok will deliver your short video to who ever they think will enjoy the content. Many aspects are taken into consideration, but it can be a lot easier for TikTok to essentially find the audience you are looking for or help you explore a new one. 


  • Authentic unedited content

TikTok is famous for its organic and unedited video content. TikTokers are known for making fun of brands and celebrities who create highly edited videos. TikTok even said it themselves, “Create TikToks not Advertisements”.   

  • Non invasiveadvertising

    With TikTok outwardly telling advertisers to make TikToks and blend in with the crowd, it makes it less obvious that something is an ad. Creating content that looks like a typical video can be a great way to seamlessly integrate an ad into someone’s For You Page (TikTok’s recommendation feed). 


  • Targets Gen Z and Millennials

    If your target audience is Gen Z and millennials, TikTok is one of the best platforms to help your brand grow. 

Cons of TikTok: 

  • Brand reputation

    Unfortunately, since TikTok is made for authentic raw content it can be potentially brand damaging. The algorithm could also show your content to the wrong people and it can quickly go viral for all the wrong reasons.  Therefore, it’s important to know your brand image and voice to assess whether it is suitable on a platform like TikTok. Alternatively, you can opt for paid ads which are better controlled with targeting.

  • Expensive advertising

Advertising on TikTok can be costly, especially if you want to create a branded hashtag challenge or a brand takeover (the first ad a user sees when opening the app). This can cost up to $50,000 a day. With the launch of TikTok for business, we will see an increase in brands advertising on the platform. Currently there are three objective options: reach, traffic, app installs and conversions. In-feed ads run on three action models, including CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per impression), and CPV (cost per 6-second view).  

  • Consistent content

    TikTokencourages consistent content uploaded frequently for the best results. Although it should be easier to come up with raw unedited content, it can be counterintuitively difficult to plan and execute well. 


  • Lack of past ad data

    Since the platform is new, there aren’t many industry benchmarks or analytics to learn from. Unfortunately, advertising on TikTok will be a guessing game until it is more established.


Industry and service updates that might affect performance (shopping):

Instagram is constantly updating and adding new features to the app. Instagram shopping is a relatively new feature where users can shop in–app and click on specific items which take them to the product page. This feature makes it great for brands who sell products and can take advantage of impulse buying and trends.

TikTok offers The Hashtag Challenge Plus that takes hashtag challenge ads and adds a shoppable component. The Explore section leads to a shopping experience where brands showcase products. The “Shop Now” link directs users to the brand’s website where they can purchase the items directly from your website

Audience demographics (numbers and reach) 

The majority of Instagram users are aged 24-35. About 6 in 10 users log in daily and browse for an average of 53 minutes per day. 90% of accounts follow at least one business and some users use the platform to search for products and brands specifically. According to a survey from Facebook 78% say that they see brands on Instagram as popular, 77% as creative, 76% as entertaining and 72% as committed to building community. There are nearly 500 million active users daily.  

On TikTok, 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24 and roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24. TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the platform, similar to Instagram. There is still scope and a market for older demographics on the channel as the platform continues to grow. There are 800 million active users on TikTok worldwide.   

Influencer marketing 

It’s never been easier to engage in influencer marketing on Instagram. Consumers are more likely to trust influencers over traditional marketing and Instagram’s engagement rate is the highest out of all the social media platforms. This is becoming quite saturated however and consumers can be turned off influencers who engage in numerous brand deals or promote products too often. This can potentially damage your brand if the influencer is not portraying honesty.   

TikTok influencers are on the rise and there is now a feature that enables brands to work with influencers to create and share sponsored content with their audience. The partnership should be more organic, and influencers should be given creative freedom so the ad seems genuine.  

User generated content  

You can collect Instagram UGC easily through hashtags, mentions and repost these to your own channels. On TikTok, Hashtag challenges are the easiest way to source UGC. Pepsi’s branded hashtag challenge #PepsiChallenge prompts users to follow a dance featuring the drink and has over 316M videos. Sourcing UGC on both platforms is relatively easy, however the transferability of TikToks onto other platforms is low compared to Instagram posts. If your content strategy relies heavily on UGC, Instagram would be the preferred platform.  

G Squared recommendations and case study reference  

After considering both platforms, when choosing which one to have a presence on, brands need to consider if their target market is on the platforms or not, if the platform suits the brand image and voice and whether you believe it will drive long term growth. If you have the resources, adding both into your digital marketing mix would be ideal.

G Squared has worked with WD and Sandisk to create marketing strategies that deliver long term growth resulting in increased brand awareness and sales. We offer comprehensive TikTok management and can assist in growing your brand on the new platform. If you wish to explore the potential of both platforms contact us today.  

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