We explain the difference between Instagram and TikTok in terms of their algorithm, content delivery, and features.
TikTok has more than 689 million active users (January 2021 report), a number projected to reach around 2 billion by the end of the year. And with this sudden rise to fame, which the COVID-19 pandemic is partly responsible for, Instagram is scrambling to maintain its position by adopting its rivals’ features.
Simply put, Instagram–which used to be a photo-sharing social media app–has been continuously adding TikTok-style features to its platform.
While Instagram and TikTok’s features are now almost similar, there are still notable differences between them. For instance, TikTok mainly appeals to the Gen Z generation, whereas its rival’s user base continues to age.
Additionally, the two video-sharing platforms use different algorithms, which could also mean different user experience.
Difference Between Algorithm and Content Delivery
TikTok’s content delivery, which depends on its algorithm, is remarkably different from Instagram’s. For instance, Instagram shows the content of users you know and follow and suggests influencers through its “Explore” page. In contrast, TikTok gives people a curated content list, giving them the option to follow their “recommended” creators.
Simply put, TikTok influencers can gain more exposure than using Instagram.
TikTok’s algorithm also provides a more personalized feed. As soon as you download its video-sharing app, it starts curating your feeds based on your interaction, interest, and online activities. The same is true for Instagram, although both average users and pros claim its “Discover” page sometimes feels like a hit and miss.
On the other hand, TikTok’s “For You” page is noted for its more engaging and addictive content, thanks to its more sophisticated algorithm.
Meanwhile, TikTok has published a statement saying that it is not basing its recommendations on the number of followers, whereas Instagram remains vague when it comes to this topic.
Last June, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said one of their algorithms takes into account the “popularity and information of the person who posted the content.” While he did not specify if popularity is anchored to the number of followers, he said their algorithm uses signals like the number of likes, comments, and shares as ranking signals.
Additionally, both video-sharing apps use country setting, type of device, and language in their recommendation systems, although TikTok said these factors are of lower importance.
TikTok's Contrarian Path
While Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other mainstream content-sharing apps use a recommendation system that is primarily anchored to your interests and online activities, don’t be surprised if TikTok occasionally shows you content that is different from your interests.
TikTok’s seemingly counterintuitive system is actually a deliberate effort to expose you to new ideas and perspectives.
Video Editing and Music Options
TikTok beats Instagram when it comes to music options, thanks to its wide range of songs that users can access from its Sound Library.
On the other hand, Instagram Reels are quite restrictive in this department: If you’re a business that needs to include music, you have to record your own audio, pre-produce your video outside of the app, use a royalty-free song, or utilize original audio.
Furthermore, TikTok users enjoy more templates, effects, and filters for their video content than Instagram users who can only use the effects before filming their video.
Also, TikTok’s most popular video editing features like Stitch, Duet, and Reaction have no Instagram equivalent.
More Relatable Content
While Tiktok has already been gaining popularity even before the pandemic, last year’s lockdown saw its meteoric rise. The reason? With months-long lockdown, shutdown, and home isolation, people looked for a platform that offers “real” entertainment, with no users bickering over politics, conspiracy theories, and other controversial topics–which are a norm in Facebook.
And unlike Instagram’s heavily filtered and almost “perfect” content, TikTok influencers prefer posting funny, entertaining, and relatable videos.
Another “selling point” of TikTok is the lack of limitations on the subject matter, from cooking, fitness, arts and crafts, dancing, and health to more “touchy” issues like schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. As a result, some users even call the app “TikTok University.”
Since Instagram is owned by Facebook and has been around much longer than TikTok, it is a more established paid advertising platform. It also allows for more precise targeting and offers link clicks.
TikTok, meanwhile, only allows businesses to target geographical regions.
Despite TikTok’s limitations on paid advertising, you shouldn’t cross out this platform yet. First and foremost, it has powerful analytics, extensive editing videos, and a wide selection of music and sounds.
Another reason why TikTok is a marketing goldmine: Last year alone, its users grew by 75%, a number that is expected to continue rising, with some experts even projecting that before the year ends, there will be around 2.1 billion global users.
Did you like this blog? Then, you may want to read our post, “Cringeworthy Social Media Mistakes that Can Destroy Brands,” or give us a call at (916) 303-4080 to get a free digital marketing consultation.
At LOJO Marketing, we help small and growth companies remain competitive amidst this new norm and business landscape in which everything is done online.