TikTok Vs. Instagram: The Race to Where?

Social Media Today reports that Instagram is losing the numbers race (audience growth; daily time spent) to TikTok in large part because it is no longer unique and no longer a cultural leader among social platforms.  Instagram was founded on applying new ways and tools for primarily a photo site. Today, it seems the platform is increasingly pivoting to video and AI-directed feeds in efforts to combat TikTok.  Photos make up 91% of all Instagram content.  Contrast with TikTok, a platform specifically set up for showcasing user-created videos.

With that in mind, Instagram has noted three priorities for the coming year:

  1. Inspire creativity:  expect more visual editing tools
  2. Shift from feeds from users one follows to more AI-generated feed (a direct TikTok competitive play)
  3. Providing means for engagement around content subjects, versus individual posts

Instagram has 2 billion users, but the game for social platforms now is time on app and Instagram has remained relatively flat in time spent daily by its users.  While the majority of TikTok users are outside the U.S., still over 100 million monthly active users are in the United States. Incredibly, the average user is spending 1 hour and 25 minutes on the app and opening TikTok 17 times a day! The #1 demographic for TikTok is males 16 -24 and #2 is females 20-29.  These audiences may be right for some brands, but the environ, content and audience profile may raise flags to other brands, despite the large potential audience.

What does this mean to marketers?  One thing is for certain, the platforms will continue to look to differentiate on the basis of content as the battle is on for share of time spent as opposed to accumulating following.

But tools for creation or editing are no substitute for compelling and strategic content. Too many brands are working overtime to ‘fit’ the platform when they might want to spend more time creating content that is worthy of direct connection, comment and sharing. The best platform tools should matter less than standing apart with your content. 

“Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them; and sometimes it’s an ad.”  Said brilliantly by ad man Howard Gossage in the 1950s.   Substitute ‘social post’ for ‘ad’ in that remarkable quote and you are well on your way to doing the right thing in social media.

Know thy brand and thy target audience.


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