Who’s Winning at Social Media


The impact of TikTok on the social media landscape is undeniable. It is expected to reach 2.1 billion users this year, and the success has not gone unnoticed by other key players, Instagram in particular.

From Instagram rolls to a vertical feed for stories, it seems like there’s news from Instagram every other week adding TikTok-style features to its platform. As these apps become more and more similar, you might be wondering what actually makes them stand out.

Here’s a look at two of the most popular platforms on social media and how they compare to each other.

What is Instagram

Instagram is a social media app that was first launched on October 6, 2010. It is owned by Facebook and has over 1 billion active users every month. This mobile-friendly platform is known for its photo and video sharing features. Users can easily capture, edit, and post visual content that their followers can then interact with through shares, likes, and comments.

In recent years, Instagram has focused more on its video sharing features, thanks in part to TikTok’s popularity. Instagram users now have three video sharing features: Stories, IGTV, and Reels. Stories are Snapchat-like short-form videos that disappear after 24 hours, IGTV is designed to be more YouTube-like with long-form content, and Reels, in-feed short-form video content that music can be added to Instagram’s answer on TikTok.

The rise of influencer marketing is largely due to Instagram. Many users have found huge followers on the platform in the lifestyle, food and fashion sectors. Now that TikTok has made a name for itself in social media, many influencers are switching to the app.

What is TikTok?

Formerly known as Musical.ly, TikTok is a video streaming and sharing app that was founded in 2014. It was originally used to create and share 15 broadcast lip sync music videos. In 2017 Musical.ly was taken over by Bytedance and renamed TikTok until 2019.

Today, TikTok is known for its 60 second short videos in which users dance to music, do comedic skits, create commentary videos about society at large, and participate in viral challenges. It’s especially popular with Gen Z and is now a staple of internet culture.

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By January 2021, TikTok had been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide. It saw meteoric growth in 2020 as the global pandemic hit the world and many of us were forced to stay indoors due to lockdowns. It was downloaded a whopping 315 million times on Apple and Android phones in the first quarter of 2020, making it the most downloaded app in the world.

TikTok VS Instagram: Differences to Watch Out For

Difference Between Tiktok and Instagram

Music options and video editing functions

TikTok offers a wide variety of music that all users can easily access through TikTok’s sound library. On Instagram Reels, on the other hand, company profiles cannot access the music function. Business accounts that want to include music in their roles will need to record their own audio, use someone else’s original audio, use royalty-free music, or pre-produce their roles outside of the app.

TikTok also offers more effects, templates, and filters than Instagram Reels. The video effects in Instagram Effects Library are more limited and can only be selected before filming each video clip.

Other important differences between the platforms are TikTok’s duet, stab, and reaction functions. None of these features are available in Instagram Reels.

The algorithm

TikTok’s “For You” page is the same as Instagram’s “Discover” page, but with a more advanced and engaging algorithm. It’s much more customized to the user’s interests and its full vertical screen experience ensures that users keep scrolling. The “Discover” page on Instagram, on the other hand, is a melting pot of content.

Paid advertising

Since Instagram has been around much longer than TikTok, it is more established in paid advertising space. However, TikTok offers paid advertising opportunities, including branded hashtag challenges, branded effects, brand takeovers, in-feed ads, and TopView. In late 2020, Instagram introduced branded content tags for reels. The platform has also long made it easier to create branded content for static posts.

Although Instagram seems to be turning into an alternate version of TikTok, there are still big differences between these apps. TikTok’s unique video content gives it a competitive advantage in the ever-evolving social media landscape. However, Instagram has the advantage of being owned by one of the largest technology conglomerates in the world. It also didn’t face the same controls and political obstacles as TikTok.

As for the question of whether Instagram or TikTok are ahead – only time will tell.