TikTok has quickly made its mark on the social media landscape, hitting 2 billion downloads in April this year. But will it overtake Instagram in terms of popularity? Here’s everything you need to know about the similarities, and differences, between each app.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short-form video platform that dramatically increased in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform allows users to upload, or film, 15-60 second clips and overlay their videos with filters, special effects and audio clips available on the platform.
The app has been credited with influencing the music charts, with popular artists who allow their music to be sampled on TikTok finding themselves in the Top 10 for weeks on end.
The app hasn’t been without its controversy. Most recently it was banned in India, along with 59 other Chinese phone apps. This ban follows claims from the Indian government that the apps are being used to collect information from people’s phones illegally.
TikTok has also been criticised for suppressing the content of fat, disabled and queer creators. It is thought they are prioritising ‘beautiful’ content, and favour it when deciding what to show to users on their ‘for you’ page.
That said, it is unlikely the app will lose momentum soon and there are even predictions that it will overtake Instagram in terms of popularity.
How does TikTok differ from Instagram?
The main differences between TikTok and Instagram are the styles of content. TikTok is all about video, and only allows users to upload or film 15-60 second clips. The videos also take up the full mobile screen, unlike Instagram posts which can be square, portrait or landscape.
Instagram offers a much wider variety of content options to their users. You can use Stories to share videos, photos and a load of interactive features (polls, questions and donation boxes). You can share up to a minute of video and photos on your main feed. If you want to upload long-form content, you can do so on IGTV and share a preview to your main feed to boost their viewership.
Instagram also offers far more to users in terms of analytics. Those with Creator and Business accounts can see the impressions and engagements for each of their posts. TikTok have yet to introduce these types of insights directly on their app, but there are external options you can use to measure the performance of each post.
While Instagram don’t allow users to download their content, TikTok does which allows their content to go viral on the other social media apps. This could explain TikTok’s rapid surge in popularity as their users regularly share content they find amusing on Twitter and Instagram.
Is TikTok more popular than Instagram?
When it comes to popularity, there’s no denying that TikTok has quickly become a favourite app of many people. In fact, TikTok has now taken over Instagram in terms of download numbers.
That said, its recent ban in India may have had a huge impact on these figures. And, if other countries follow India’s example it could see its monthly active user number plummet.
When it comes to user experience, it is likely that TikTok is more popular with creators. Many may have already established, large followings on Instagram but TikTok offers the opportunity to rapidly build an engaged audience that could surpass their Instagram followers. If creators have been on Instagram for years, they may also find a significant chunk of their following is inactive, which will impact their impressions and engagements.
Some creators will move over to TikTok, and at some point we may see a shift from Instagram to TikTok in terms of where most content is shared and brand budgets are spent on influencer collaborations. However, it is unlikely this will happen soon.
TikTok will need to smooth out concerns about misuse of data and the censorship of ‘ugly’ content from fat, black, disabled and queer creators. If they can do this then they stand a chance at stealing Instagram’s popularity crown.
Is TikTok safer than Instagram?
As mentioned above, TikTok has now been banned in India and there are questions about whether the app collects data from users. The main concern is that the Chinese government may be using this data to collect information illegally. It’s worth remembering that although these are legitimate concerns, there is as of yet no evidence of this happening to users.
While Instagram may seem like a safer option right now, no app is 100% risk-free to use. Instagram users have had their accounts hacked and it was proven that Facebook (who own Instagram) data was harvested by Cambridge Analytica to influence the 2016 US election.
If you’re concerned about your privacy when using social media apps, the best thing you can do is restrict their access to your data. You can do this in the settings of each app. You could also use minimal personal data when signing up to the app, and even set your account to private if you want to have more control over who can see your content.
Can you make money on TikTok?
Making money via social media isn’t a new concept, but as TikTok is such a new platform it’s not surprising that there’s less money making opportunities. That said, the biggest stars on the platform are making a considerable amount from brand partnerships, membership subscriptions and donations from their fans.
There’s a few ways you can make money from TikTok:
- Build an engaged audience and advertise brands to them – if you have a big enough audience, why not pitch to brands and ask for a fee to mention their products or services to your audience?
- Go Live and collect tips during your session – Viewers can purchase ‘coins’ and tip their favourite influencers while they’re live. This could be a great way to make money if you’ve got an engaging idea for a session
- Promote your own business via the app – You have the option to add your website to your TikTok bio, and if your videos showcase what you make or do this could be a great way to boost your income
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