TikTok vs. Instagram: Differences & Which is Better for Your Brand

Ahmet Özçelik
Ahmet Özçelik
Business Development Manager
a girl filming herself for social media

TikTok or Instagram? 🤔

That's the million-dollar question for any brand considering influencer marketing or social media marketing.

The answer to it can determine your approach and budget.

But there’s a bit of an issue: it’s not an easy pick. In fact, it can be as hard as picking between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie—pretty hard, right? 😥

Good thing you’re here!

We've done the hard work for you by comparing the two platforms to reveal their unique strengths. We'll also tell you which one may be best for your brand.

Let's dig in!

What is TikTok?

TikTok (known as Douyin in China) is a social media platform for short-form videos.

Users upload vertical videos of 15 seconds to 10 minutes, about almost anything. TikTok’s algorithm then places the videos in the feeds of users sharing similar interests and demographics.

Although it launched in 2017, very few people knew about TikTok before 2020. 

It only became popular after people who were quarantined due to the pandemic started flocking to the platform to watch entertainment videos. 

We’re taking comedy skits, dance videos, and lip-syncs.

But things are a little bit different now. TikTok now is a platform for infotainment. 

TikTok influencers or digital creators dish out advice on any topic from cooking and fitness to beauty and mental health, as well as promoting themselves.

Plus, the platform supports 10-minute presentation videos and even live streams.

Creators also rely on the platform's catalog of music snippets, stickers, filters, and sound effects to make their videos better.

Currently, TikTok is the most popular social media platform, being the most downloaded app in the USA, and overtaking Google as the most visited site.

What’s more, the platform recently hit 1.7 billion active users.

Last but not least, TikTok has a huge user base, having 150M+ in the USA. This only covers TikTok users aged 18 and above, so the actual number may be even higher.

Key features

TikTok has some key features that separate it from Instagram.

They include:

  1. Duet 

Seen TikToks with two creators in them? Now, that's a duet.

This feature allows you to create videos with another creator, using a split-screen display.

Your own video appears to the left, while that of the creator with the original video appears to the right.

Take for example this video which shows @dermangelo reacting to @by.fannys’ skincare routine:

Source: TikTok

Brands use duets to react to videos from customers, subject matter experts, or any content that's on-brand.

  1. Stitch videos

Like duets, stitches bring two videos together. 

But instead of displaying the two videos at once, stitches allow the original video to run for a few seconds before the new one.

Here's what it looks like:

Source: TikTok

@sjbleau’s video runs for a couple of seconds, before @keisha.villa’s response begins.

Brands love to use stitch videos to add a comment to another video, answer questions from customers, piggyback on a trend, and so on.

  1. Music and sound library

A huge part of TikTok's success is its sound and music options.

No surprise here. Besides, it's a platform known for its dance challenges, and people dance to…well, music.

In fact, most TikTok users learn new songs just by watching videos on the platform. Several others say they're more likely to remember and connect with a brand that uses music they love.

Another good thing is that you can create your own audio or use audio from another TikTok.

So, you can create a unique sound for your campaign that keeps ringing in people's ears long after they've watched the video.

Take, for example, Mucinex's TikTok campaign…

Source: TikTok

…they created an original sound to accompany their campaign. This helped the campaign to go viral faster on TikTok.

  1. Green screen effect and one-tap visual enhancement

TikTok has great options for sprucing up videos.

You can add filters, stickers, emojis, transitions, and visual effects. Or even copy an effect from a video from another TikTok creator.

But the biggest visual effect that brands are using to engage with their TikTok followers, is the green screen effect.

It allows you to superimpose your video on any background of your choice. Could be a gif, a Giphy, or even an image.

How’s this good news for you?

Well, it gives an extra opportunity to add more creativity and storytelling to your videos. 

Take a look at how an influencer talks about Fenty Makeup using the green screen effect:

Source: TikTok

She’s explaining the product’s features, while a picture of the product and its prices serves as the background.

Also, there’s the one-tap visual enhancement you can use to automatically enhance the exposure, light, and color correction of your videos with a push of a button.

  1. Video replies

Wanna engage with your audience and answer their comments?

Video replies are the TikTok feature that lets you do that.

This video-sharing feature allows you to answer a question overlaid on the video like this…

Source: TikTok

Pros of TikTok

Here are some advantages of using the platform:

  • High odds of going viral: TikTok's algorithm uses content quality and its relevance to an individual. So, both small and large accounts have equal chances of going viral.

The most important thing is to create high-quality content that's relevant to your target audience.

  • Supports specific targeting: TikTok has several small niche communities of people with similar interests.

So, all you need to do is find your target audience's community. Then either create content tailored specifically for them or partner with a creator they all follow.  

  • Hop on trends: You can use stitches and duets to start a campaign off the back of a trending video from another creator.

This makes it easier to reach your target audience.

  • Videos cost little to nothing to create: TikTok videos have a kinda raw and authentic feel.

So, you don't need to spend much on lighting or spend hours putting on makeup.

  • Great user interface: The user interface of TikTok is created specifically for mobile users, with its vertical format. This ensures a great user experience.

Cons of TikTok

Flipping the coin for a moment, here are some disadvantages:

  • Ads cost a lot: You can expect to spend at least $500 on a TikTok ad campaign which may be too costly for small businesses.
  • Limited audience demographics: Most TikTok users are Gen Z. This means you’re less likely to find your target audience on TikTok, unless your business caters to a younger audience.

Now, enough about TikTok. Let's talk about Instagram.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social platform for sharing videos and photos.

Launched in 2010, the application was later purchased by Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2012. And since then, it has grown popular among people of diverse ages.

In fact, the platform currently has 143M+ users in the USA alone. And per reports from Meta, Instagram hit 2B+ monthly active users at the close of 2022.

That's the least of it…

The social media platform spurred the creation of a new word: Instagramming. It's even been added to the dictionary!

Wild, right?

So, what are its key features?

Key features 

Instagram has some cool features that set it apart from other platforms like LinkedIn, and TikTok too.

They include:

  1. Live rooms

Live rooms allow Instagram users to host live streams with up to 3 other people at once.

People can join, leave comments, and even request to join. 

Is this feature of any use to you?

Oh yeah!

You can use it for things like product tutorials, panel discussions with influencers, and behind-the-scenes.

If you're an Instagram influencer, you could also use it for a vlog or a get-ready-with-me (GRWM) video to advertise a particular product.

  1. Instagram Reels

Reels is Instagram's response to TikTok's "For You" feed.

Reels are short videos displayed in vertical format.

They're usually 90 seconds long (if you record it on the social media app) or 15 minutes (if you're uploading a pre-recorded video).

Source: Instagram

Plus, one can enhance a reel with Instagram's audio library and editing tools.

Reels receive much love from Instagram's algorithm. They receive more promotion and visibility, compared to other types of content.

So, you can use it to grow visibility or even promote a product. You can also boost its reach, by turning it into an ad.

There's another feature similar to reels…

  1. Instagram Stories

Like reels, Instagram stories are short-form videos.

But unlike reels, stories disappear after 24 hours, unless you save them to your highlights.

Source: Instagram

With stories, you can upload and create photos and images, run interactive surveys with animated and static stickers, or announce new deals.

But what if a person is watching a story without turning on the audio?

Well, Instagram now allows you to add captions of what you're saying to your stories. 

Although they're automatically generated, they're fully editable.

  1. Instagram TV (IGTV)

IGTV is Instagram's version of a long-form video platform like YouTube.

It allows users to upload video content that is up to 15 minutes long (if you're uploading from a phone) or 60 minutes (if you're uploading from the web app) long.

Brands use it to share tutorials, behind-the-scenes, and repurposed YouTube content.

  1. Collabs

Collabs allows you to co-create content with other accounts, which appear in the feeds or reels of the different accounts.

Let's say account A wants to create content with account B.

A will send an invite to B. 

If B accepts, their username is added to the post, and becomes visible in their account feed or reel.

This feature facilitates brand-influencer collaborations like this one between Gymshark and Leanadeebb…

Source: Instagram

As a result, Gymshark leverages Leanadeebb’s audience to generate engagement, grow visibility, and gain more followers. 

  1. Shoppable

The goal of promoting a product on Instagram is to encourage people to buy.

So, wouldn’t it be great if people could buy immediately from the post? Well, that's exactly what Shoppable or Instagram Shopping is for.

With it, you can place tags on images of your product in your posts or stories.

And once a person clicks on the tag, they're redirected immediately to the product page on your site.

Pros of Instagram

Here are a few positives to Instagram:

  • Multiple content types: You can reach people in their reels, stories, explore pages, or feeds. And you can either use video or images.
  • Positive ad reception: Instagram users are more receptive to ads. That's because the different ad formats Instagram provides, mimic user-generated content.
  • Wide audience spread: People of all age groups use Instagram. There are Gen Zs, and millennials too.
  • Low ad costs: Compared to TikTok, Instagram ads cost less. It all depends on your ad budget, competition, and cost type.

Cons of Instagram

Now for some disadvantages of Instagram:

  • Going viral is a little hard: Instagram’s algorithm promotes content from accounts with an engaged audience and whose content receives a high amount of likes and shares.
  • Video-creation costs: Instagram videos are very polished. They require significant editing and investment in lighting equipment, studios, and so on.
  • Limited music and sound options: Instagram business accounts are not allowed to use copyrighted music.

TikTok vs. Instagram: Main Differences

Like we said earlier, TikTok and Instagram share similarities. But there are subtle differences too.

Here’s a brief rundown of those differences:

Now, let's take a close look at each one.

Content type

Instagram and TikTok both support short-form video content. 

The major difference is that for Instagram, short videos are not the only type of content format.

Instagram has several other content formats like photos, carousels, and stories.

That's not all. The level of work that goes into creating content differs.

Instagram has always favored content that is very polished with eye-catching visuals and complex edits.

Things are different on TikTok.

TikTok videos are mostly raw and authentic. The only edit most videos receive are in-app visual and audio effects.

It's perhaps why TikTok has a more advanced library of editing tools, visual effects, and sound effects. 

Plus, it's one of the reasons why micro-influencers who can't afford churning out high-budget videos, flock to TikTok.

Content display

If you logged into your Instagram account, you'd see something like this:

Source: Instagram

Notice you can see the content you're viewing and the ones before and after it. This is known as the endless scrolling format. 

The goal is to ensure your interest is piqued to watch the next video, in case you lose interest at some point in the post you're watching.

Now compare that with TikTok's user interface:

Source: TikTok

It's just one video per viewport. And unlike Instagram, this ensures you watch each video to the end, increasing impressions and video completion rates.

Now, to one major difference between the two platforms…


An algorithm is like a compass. It guides us through the endless sea of content that's uploaded every day and shows us what we're more likely to be interested in.

For Instagram, the popularity of the creator or influencer and the engagement they've received in the past, is key.

It's why big accounts are more likely to be promoted on the platform than smaller ones.

On the other hand, TikTok's algorithm is more complex. 

It primarily relies on the different actions a user takes on the platform, to serve new and relevant content.

We're talking posts they've liked, shared, and commented on, and their associated hashtags, keywords, sound, and search phrases.

This gives small and large accounts an equal chance of getting visibility.

Audience demographics

If you hop on TikTok and Instagram, you'll notice a huge difference in the demographics. 

For TikTok, users are mainly young people (Gen Zs) between the ages of 18 and 24 (38.4%). People who are between ages 25 and 34 aren’t far behind (32.5%).

Source: Datareportal

Instagram is a teeny bit different.

Although Gen Zs are also the highest population on the social app, the user demographics are almost evenly distributed between the ages of 18-24 (32.0%,), 25-34 (29.6%), and 35-44 (15.3%).

Source: Datareportal

Later on, we’ll touch on why these numbers are so significant.

But till then, let's move on to the next point…

User behavior

TikTok is a platform you visit mainly to be entertained.

There are several challenges or trends to watch. Funny skits that can make you laugh your socks off. And short educational tutorials that teach you stuff in a laid-back manner.

Also, people rarely feel the need to make a TikTok unless they're creators.

In contrast, Instagram is a platform you visit to keep up with friends and watch content from the brands and influencers you're following. 

Also, users tend to post to update their friends, family members, and those following them about recent life events.


TikTok and Instagram can be used for running digital marketing campaigns, using paid ads.

But there are subtle differences in the way it's done on each platform.

Now, starting with TikTok:

TikTok has several ad formats, which resemble organic content on the platform. Examples are in-feed ads that appear on the "For You" page (FYP) and Spark Ads for giving more fuel to existing content.

But a common theme among most of them is the use of original or trending sounds and almost-raw footage that's been touched up a little with the help of TikTok's large editing library.

For Instagram, there are also several ad formats. Examples include carousels, images, reels, explore ads, and collections.

But in contrast to TikTok, most Instagram ads have a more polished look and feel to them.

Then, there's the difference in advertising costs.

The least you can spend on TikTok campaign-level and group-level budgets are $50 and $20 respectively. But you can spend as little as $5 per day on Instagram.

In fact, Instagram reel ads outperformed TikTok ads, according to recent research by Wordstream, in reach and cost-effectiveness.

Does this mean TikTok is better than Instagram?

Well, don't worry…. we'll give you an answer later.


Use Insense to achieve better results with your Spark Ads

Spark Ads usually have higher click-through rates because they resemble organic posts so much!

But, what if I told you there's a way to get better results with your Spark Ads?

Well, there is!

And it's by leveraging influencer partnerships.

Data from TikTok, shows ads made in collaboration with creators, receive 83% more engagement, and 65% higher 2-second and 91% higher 6-second view rates.

Astounding right?

That's not all…

With Insense, you can find the influencers and creators you need for creating high-performing Spark Ads.

All you need to do is fill out a brief, pick an influencer who aligns with your goals, and receive the content and the code from the influencer or creator.

Then finally, turn the content into a Spark Ad.

Simple right?

You could try it out today by booking a live demo!

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a great way to promote your brand, while sounding cool 😎 (Yeah, that's what collaborating with an influencer gets you!).

Because in the minds of the loyal fans, the influencers or creators they follow can do no wrong.

So, they don't mind dipping their hands in their pockets on the influencers’/creators’ recommendations.

Mind you, TikTok and Instagram are great platforms for influencer marketing campaigns. 

But there are little differences.

Firstly, Instagram influencers are obsessed with aesthetics. The videos must have eye-catching visuals, and complex edits and transitions.

On the other hand, a TikTok influencer isn't concerned with aesthetics. In fact, in most cases, they just started posting while being their natural self and gained a significant following over time.

So, they're not necessarily bothered about learning photography and videography. They're more interested in learning how to use TikTok's effects and video editing options.

This authentic and raw feel, makes TikTok influencers have tighter connections with their fan base, than their counterparts on Instagram.

Also, TikTok influencers charge anywhere from $4 to $1,034. While Instagram influencers charge a bit higher, from $10 to $2,500.

So, how do you find these influencers to work with for your campaign?

Well, you could run a quick search on either platform, using relevant hashtags, 

But, that’s pretty difficult, right? 

It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. 

You have to hop from platform to platform, scroll through endless feeds, and vet each influencer carefully to make sure they're a good fit for your brand.

Luckily, there's Insense.

On the Influencer marketing platform, there are 20k+ vetted influencers and creators, cutting across different niches, demographics, and locations.

All you need to do is input the details of the Influencer you're looking for and the system will automatically match you with those who fit the profile.

Moving on, let’s address the elephant in the room…

Which Social Media Platform is Better for Your Brand?

The answer depends on your:

  • Target audience: If your potential customers are hip and young, TikTok will be a better choice

For example, Instagram will be perfect for a brand promoting a skin lotion to women aged 40 and above.

But if the customers are aged 25 downwards, TikTok will definitely be the better choice.

  • Marketing goal: TikTok is a great way to demonstrate your brand's personality, while going viral in the process.

On the other hand, Instagram is better for driving leads and conversions.

Better still, what stops you from using both platforms?

Absolutely nothing!

So, you can try building a presence on either platform to find what's better.

And to make it easier, you could cross-post content from TikTok to Instagram and vice versa.

Then use an influencer marketing platform like Insense to manage all your influencer partnerships in one place.

Over To You

By now, you must have found the perfect platform to use between TikTok and Instagram. Or maybe you’ve decided to use both.

So, congratulations in advance, for the successful influencer marketing campaign you’re about to launch 🎊!


Every successful influencer campaign starts with choosing the right influencers. And you can do so on Insense.

Book a demo today to find out how!

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Ahmet Özçelik

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