Before TikTok’s Remi Bader there was Instagram’s Katie Sturino. Discover how TikTok’s new wave of creators compares to Instagram's established fleet of influencers. What once was a platform primarily consisting of lip syncing and dancing content quickly evolved into a serious contender against Instagram for the leading channel for creators.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into both TikTok and Instagram’s creators, explain how they differ, where they’re similar, and how brands can build a solid content strategy that incorporates the best practices from both channels. Not only will you finish our latest TikTok vs. Instagram marketing guide with a better understanding of the two platforms but also how you can leverage insight from both creators in your brand’s content.
Instagram Vs. TikTok
Before we break down the two different types of creators, let’s understand how the two platforms differ.
Out of the two, Instagram is the more established platform. Instagram is a visual platform equipped with social commerce and content monetization tools. Users can share various types of content like static, Carousels, Stories, long-form videos (Instagram Video), short-form videos (Reels), Live streaming, and Guides. It wasn’t until more recently did Instagram consider itself a video-first social platform with its push for Reels as the go-to content format for Instagram along with Instagram Video. Brands and creators who solely operated on Instagram before its shift to video are learning how to adapt to ensure that not only the Instagram algorithm prioritizes their content, but also follows the way people are consuming media nowadays while also maintaining their brand messaging.
TikTok was somewhat of an overnight sensation. TikTok rose in popularity in 2020, right around the start of the pandemic. It soon outpaced Instagram in number of app downloads and is the leading channel for mobile short-form video content. In TikTok’s infancy, users compared the platform to Vine due to its high-volume of user uploaded video content. However, TikTok quickly transformed into a powerful digital marketing tool for bother brands and creators.
Instagram Creators Vs. TikTok Creators
For the longest time, Instagram was on the only platform for creators looking to grow their online presence. It's where influencers could build partnerships with brands and create influencer marketing content for their audiences. But not anymore. In just two short years, we've seen TikTok creators blow up overnight. They've garnered massive followings and reach — not to mention influenced many TikTok users' purchasing power. The obvious difference between TikTok and Instagram creators is that TikTokers create mostly video content while Instagram creators typically only created static or Instagram Carousel content. Instagram creators usually left shared their video content to their IG Stories or Lives. It wasn't until the Reels push on Instagram did they start creating video content for their grid.
But aside from the obvious, TikTok creators don't differ all that much from Instagram creators. For example, when I referenced creators Remi Bader and Katie Sturino I was making a direct comparison. Katie Sturino is an OG Instagram creator and influencer. Formerly known for her blog and Instagram handle @the12ishstyle, Katie created content that challenged the fashion industry to be more inclusive. She started the #MakeMySize movement where she'd call out fashion brands for only carrying limited sizing or brands whose sizing runs small. The content and content strategy Katie created was similar to how a lot of notable Instagram creators built their followings. It also, was one of the first accounts to break away from sharing overly-curated picture perfect content and give a more authentic view and perception of herself. She took raw unfiltered photos that weren't always the most flattering to prove her point and it helped her stand out. Now a lot of the content we see on Instagram and TikTok today showcases more authentic portrayals of the creators themselves. Remi Bader became popular with her "Realistic Fashion Haul" videos on TikTok. She'd pick a brand to highlight in her TikTok fashion hauls and show herself trying on the clothes. Remi is a plus-size creator in the fashion industry. Much like Katie, Remi became an inspiration and leading voice for promoting inclusivity in the fashion industry. Her original TikTok content set her apart from the other fashion creators on TikTok.
Remi and Katie are considered macro-influencers with a combined following of almost 3 million. But just like Instagram, TikTok has varying levels of creators. Follow along as we get into the major differences of the two creators.
What Make Instagram Creators Unique
To many people, Instagram represents quintessential influencer culture. Known for their aesthetically-pleasing Instagram grids, Instagram creators and influencers who got their start on Instagram really paved the way for all creators on all platforms.
- Age: Instagram's largest audience is between 25-34 years old. Which makes sense why most popular Instagram creators are either millennials or on the cusp of millennials and Gen X. They're seasoned when it comes to creating content and have a really strong sense of brand identity that comes through in all their content.
- Content: They're most familiar with making static content for their grid, but still find a way to leverage all of Instagram's different features. They consider each feature such as Instagram Stories and Live to serve a different purpose. Not all of it should be used the same. They're also starting to embrace video content with Reels, even joining TikTok to get in front of new audiences.
- Instagram Creator Brand Identity: In the beginning when the Instagram Influencer era was just starting out, popular Instagram creators and influencers rarely used their name for their Instagram handle. This was due to a lot of Instagram creators having a supplementary blog where they'd write long-form content and go into more detail about their favorite products, and so on. Their handle was usually the same name as their blog and was a way for them to keep their online presence consistent between channels. For example, Alex Snodgrass, the creator and author of The Defined Dish, still uses her blog’s handle as her Instagram handle. The same for @shutthekaleup’s creator, Jeannette Aranda. Many Instagram creators, who’ve transitioned into running and operating their own business, have since retired their catchy Instagram handle and now use their own names.
What Makes TikTok Creators Unique
For many of the TikTok creators we follow, it seems like they became overnight successes. Very much a "here before this blows up" mentality. And there are number of reasons why. The first being that in the early days of TikTok, it was easier for creators to carve a niche for themselves because there weren’t as many well-established creators on the platforms, especially creators creating niche content. Secondly, in the beginning TikTok wasn't so much about social currency yet. Users were excited to follow accounts who were creating entertaining content. It didn't matter about followers to following count ratios yet. Here are some key characteristics of TikTok creators.
- Age: TikTok creators are typically younger than Instagram’s group of creators. That's because TikTok's largest user base skews younger. Many of TikTok's most popular creators are Gen or younger millennials. However, the longer TikTok is around the more diverse their audience gets in age.
- Content: Creators create content that’s a little less filtered and serious than Instagram content. The social trends are a little more unhinged. It's not so much about following brand guidelines but rather what's relevant. No matter what their niche is, it’s always very raw. For example, many TikTok creators will post 4 to 5 times a day without any real purpose. Sometimes they’re just following a trend or showing the internet their real personality. They'll use the same trending sound over and over to just make a new joke. Many of the creators became popular based on their personality because video content really has a way of letting that shine through. It's less about showing off a product but how to use that product naturally. This has lead to many viral products like the Dyson Airwrap, Clinique's Black honey lipstick, and more selling out.
- TikTok Creator Brand Identity: Compared to Instagram, there’s less branded handles on TikTok. Usually creators use their name for their TikTok username. And if their username is different than their name, it's usually because it's a joke. Compared Instagram creators, top TikTok didn’t start with a blog. If TikTok creators were to have any other presence besides TikTok it would be YouTube. For example, Emma Chamberlain started out make YouTube vlogs and then got on TikTok. But for most creators, TikTok is their very first channel into the creator industry. TikTok creators with large following, joined Instagram after TikTok. Much of their Instagram followers are people who already follow them on TikTok, which differs from Instagram creators. They're not necessarily expanding their audience but using Instagram as a platform for launching other business ventures.
How TikTok and Instagram Creators Can Help Your Brand
Even with TikTok and Instagram creators having different strengths, you can learn from both creator strategies and platform best practices for your brand's content strategy.
- Instagram creators are well-versed in Instagram content strategy. They don't limit themselves to one content format, which allows them more opportunities to be creative. No matter what they create whether it be for IG Stories, Reels or static content for their grid, or starting a IG Live series. The one thing that shines through in their content strategy is their strong sense of brand identity.
- TikTok creators are masters in video content. Getting on TikTok you can expand your audience and increase reach. TikTok is also full of video inspiration, you can use TikTok ideas for Reels and vice versa. Also, watching TikTok creators create video content will show brands how to create video content with ease and no pressure.