The differences between TikTok and Instagram: discover the main ones

Do you want to find out the differences between TikTok and Instagram to decide on which to invest resources? Don’t worry, after reading this article you will have no more doubts.

Ever since TikTok literally exploded in Italy, the Instagram-Facebook duopoly has never been so in the balance. A very delicate period has therefore begun for those who want to invest in social networks: is it better to stay on the old and tested social networks or is it time to explore a new, extremely youthful and fun channel? The question is legitimate and the answer is not trivial.

While the benefit of TikTok is undoubted for individuals, thanks to the intrinsic fun that the platform offers, it is not yet clear whether social media is equally profitable for companies, economically speaking.

Because if on the one hand on TikTok there is still a lot of space for new influencers, on the other hand the longevity of the social network is not guaranteed, which could be yet another temporary fashion.

So what to do? Is it worth investing in TikTok or staying wisely on Instagram? Although the two social networks are quite similar, there are also significant differences between the two: in this article we will see the main differences between TikTok and Instagram.

NB: We will not go into the socio-demographic differences of the users, as it would seem that TikTok is getting closer and closer to Instagram, abandoning the exclusivity of the niche of young and very young people.

The differences between TikTok and Instagram: the Feed

The first big difference concerns the feed, that is the section of the social network in which the contents of other users are collected. On TikTok the feed is divided into the section “for you” and “followed”, while on Instagram it is usually called “home”. The differences are not limited only to the nomenclature: let’s see what changes in substance.

The policy of TikTok is very clear: As soon as you open the app you are catapulted into “for you”. The peculiarity of this section lies in the type of content it hosts. The “feed” is based on the videos that the algorithm deems valid for you, regardless of whether you follow their creators or not.

This detail is very important, because it is the first main difference with Instagram.

In fact, as soon as you open Instagram you are catapulted into a home that collects (almost) exclusively the posts of the people you follow, that is, your following. 

The difference is not only practical but highly strategic:

TikTok gives even very small and recently opened profiles the possibility to become viral, Instagram instead offers visibility only to the posts of those who have collected and cultivated many followers over time. TikTok has chosen to adopt this policy because it is still in the user acquisition phase (the most downloaded application in Italy even in February): it wants users not to follow just a few people, but to continuously discover new content.

Clearly the opportunity is tempting for companies that, taking full advantage of the TikTok algorithm, can achieve an unthinkable video coverage on Instagram (even hundreds of thousands of views). For this reason, if we were to advise a company to choose between opening a TikTok profile or an Instagram profile, we would undoubtedly choose the former.  

The relationship with followers

The choice to show videos of strangers on TikTok also has a negative side. In fact, since on Instagram the posts of a company will always be seen by the same followers, a particular loyalty relationship will be created, which is the basis of the world of influencers. Only on Instagram it is possible to establish that relationship of trust which is essential to allow “big accounts” to monetize.

On TikTok this link is much more tenuous, because the posts of a big account will always be seen by different people, not necessarily by followers. So we could conclude by saying that on TikTok there are many advantages for a small profile, which can grow easily.

However, with a long-term strategy that also considers monetization, one cannot but prefer Instagram.

In fact, on Instagram the concept of followers is more effective, it is easier to create a real community and a relationship between influencers and followers, with more monetization possibilities for companies and influencers.

To cement this bond with followers, undoubtedly, the stories influence, another element of difference between TikTok and Instagram and that we will analyze in the following paragraph.

The contents

TikTok and Instagram are both purely visual social networks, in which content reigns supreme. Let’s analyze what are the differences between TikTok and Instagram based on the types of posts that can be uploaded.

The Contents of TikTok

Let’s start with TikTok, which is much more simplified from this point of view. Here there is still only one content, the post, which is the one visible in our profile and which will appear in the “for you” section. Only videos lasting less than one minute can be uploaded or recorded directly in the app, with the possibility of editing them with many accessory elements. There are no other types of content.

Small digression: to go viral on TikTok it is necessary to create high quality videos, i.e. videos that our potential followers really like.

Creating this content takes a lot longer than a simple Instagram photo, which is why it would seem more challenging to create an editorial plan on TikTok than on Instagram.

In fact, if we also consider the time needed to create the stories (which are now essential for growth on this social network), it could be said that Instagram and TikTok require more or less the same time.

Small indiscretion, it would seem that the possibility of inserting a link to the video is in rollout, but for now only some profiles have the opportunity to link exclusively Wikipedia and Tripadvisor. We will stay updated on this story, because if it were really integrated, it would be fundamental news for those who want to do business on TikTok.

The contents of Instagram

On Instagram we have much more flexibility: you can post both videos (here too lasting less than a minute) and photos and you can post them individually or with other content (up to a maximum of 10), creating what is called a “carousel”.

This content can only be edited in a small way thanks to filters, while it lacks all the editing features that TikTok offers. So, if we were to stop our analysis on posts only, it would turn out that TikTok offers more opportunities than Instagram.

However, on Instagram there are not only posts, but there is also the possibility of creating other types of content.

You can create IGTVs, medium to long-form videos that should look like YouTube videos, but in portrait rather than landscape format. To date they are not yet widely used, but if the rumor that Instagram will decide to make them monetizable is confirmed, you can also bet on this content.

We have not yet mentioned the main content of Instagram, the one that probably makes this social network so appreciated by its users, the Stories. To date, as they are not featured on TikTok, this is a big difference between TikTok and Instagram.

Stories are the heart of Instagram: they are incredibly editable (like TikTok), they are short (within 15 seconds), they are the basis of the relationship between influencers and followers and above all they are liked by all users.

In the absence of a viable alternative from TikTok it will be very difficult for TikTok to completely eliminate the competition from Instagram.

If we consider that on Instagram it is possible to buy a product directly, another point must be assigned to Instagram. 2-1 for Instagram. (Although it would appear that they are rolling out shopping on TikTok as well).

The differences between TikTok and Instagram: the profile

To conclude, let’s analyze how the personal profile of users is structured. Let’s start with the similarities. Both social networks give the opportunity to insert a profile picture, a description and some external links, but there are also substantial differences.

First of all, on TikTok you can also insert a Video instead of the image, with a duration of less than 7 seconds and there is the possibility to click and zoom on the profile image. On Instagram you can only put a non-zoomable static image.

As for the Links, which are undoubtedly a very important feature to decide whether to invest time on a social network, it must be said that finally the famous “link in bio” has appeared on TikTok, for profiles with at least 1000 followers.

In addition to this, you can also link your YouTube channel and Instagram profile with a special button visible in your profile, a feature that is not present on Instagram.

What Instagram offers instead and not TikTok are other buttons with which you can indicate: your street address, your e-mail, your phone number and also the functionality to book meetings.

Furthermore, the presence of the stories on Instagram has made it possible to create the stories in evidence, that is the “dots” that contain the stories and which are very very important to add a creative element of personalization to your profile and the “swipe up”, that is the possibility to insert a link in the stories.

Again, we feel we prefer Instagram to TikTok. 3-1.

Conclusion: is TikTok or Instagram better?

The result is clear, Instagram is still ahead of TikTok (and it is normal that this is the case, as it has more seniority and behind it).

So, if we had to answer dryly which social network offers the most opportunities at the moment we would say Instagram. However, expanding the analysis, one cannot ignore the fact that TikTok is closing the gap with insane speed. It could be an excellent investment within 1 year, in which other things will have changed (it would be enough to add shopping, stories and the possibility of inserting links to videos to review our preferences).

Also, just because growing on TikTok is considerably easier, we recommend opening a new TikTok account rather than a new Instagram account.

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