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Instagram vs TikTok Social Media Marketing

Published on 06.07.2024 by Tracey Chizoba Fletcher

Social media has revolutionized advertising. Unlike when brands had to rely on traditional advertising methods like radio and TV, they are now turning to social media marketing methods. When considering social media marketing, two of the most popular advertising methods are TikTok and Instagram.

This has often raised questions about digital marketing on TikTok vs. Instagram. Many brands wonder which of these social media marketing methods is better. This article will compare the two and help you make the right choice.

What are TikTok Ads?

TikTok ads refer to brands promoting their videos to reach a bigger or more specific audience. TikTok allows brands to create video ads that are 5 to 60 seconds long. These ads are placed among other organic videos and look like organic posts.

TikTok offers a wide range of ad formats, such as Top-view ads, in-feed ads, branded effects, and brand takeovers. These ad formats are designed to improve user engagement. For instance, brands can use in-feed ads to increase the number of likes, comments, and shares of their TikTok videos, increasing their visibility on the platform.

Most of the ads on TikTok are infeed ads, appearing on the FYP just like other TikTok organic posts but with the label Sponsored and a CTA, leading users to the product’s landing page. Top view ads, which allow users to see the ad the moment they open the app, are also popular on TikTok. With the TikTok ad manager, you can choose your ad goal, budget, and target audience.

What are Instagram Ads?

Instagram ads are boosted posts that users pay for to reach a specific audience, whether on the scrolling feed, stories feature, or IGTV. The ads usually appear like organic posts, stories, reels, and the Instagram advertising Explore page.

Instagram ads allow users to add a link to their products or services, which isn’t possible with organic posts. There are different kinds of Instagram ads, such as videos, images, stories, reels, and carousels.

TikTok Ads vs. Instagram Ads: A Comparison

TikTok and Instagram offer unique ad formats for different target audiences and marketing goals. Here is a comparison between the two ad formats and their effects:

Target Audience

One key consideration when choosing between the two is the audience you will likely reach on both platforms. 

TikTok audience demographics

TikTok is a home for young demographics and is, therefore, best suited for Gen Zs and Millennials. This audience loves funny content with elements of playfulness. The majority of users are aged between 16 and 24. This user demographic is highly engaged on the platform and often dictates the type of content and trends. Therefore, if you have a brand targeting the youths, TikTok can be a great advertising platform.

Despite its young demographic, TikTok also caters to various niches and interests. The platform has users creating content in various niches, such as dance, cooking, motivation, competition, and football reviews. With such diverse content, it's easy for brands to create targeted ads targeted to users with particular skills.

Social media users have a short attention span, so TikTok specializes in short-form content, with videos lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. While TikTok is very popular in Western countries, it has an even higher audience demographic in Asian countries, such as China and India. 

Instagram audience demographics

Instagram is a platform whose audience transcends different age groups. From millennials who use it to share their life milestones to Gen X and Boomers who use it for storytelling, TikTok is great for brands whose stories cut across different age groups. The audience demographic makes it a great platform for targeting different audience demographics.

Recent data shows that Instagram also has a young audience demographic, with most users aged between 18 and 34. However, compared to TikTok, Instagram still has a bigger audience in the millennial and Gen Z age groups. Instagram users relate with a wide range of content such as videos, photos, stories, IGTV, and Reels. 

The platform's diverse audience means advertisers can tailor their content to user behaviors and preferences. With this content diversity, advertisers can tailor their ads to reach different user behaviors and preferences. Instagram also has high engagement levels, with users spending considerable time watching stories, scrolling news feeds, and interacting with other forms of content.

Verdict on TikTok vs. Instagram user demographic

Therefore, while TikTok is considered the hub of youthfulness and short-form videos, Instagram is known for its more diverse content and audience demographic. Therefore, your choice of an advertising platform should depend on your target audience and marketing objectives.

Cost and Possible ROI

One of the key considerations when considering a social media marketing platform is cost. You need to check the cost and ROI of TikTok and Instagram ads to see if they offer real value for money. Here is a comparison of the two platforms:

TikTok cost and ROI

When you compare the two, you will realize that TikTok ads are usually cheaper. This can be attributed to the fact that TikTok is a growing platform, and therefore, the ad cost is lower than that of a more established platform like Instagram. The minimum campaign budget you can set for TikTok ads at the campaign level is $50 per day. That means this is the amount you will spend each day your ad is running. You can set a minimum budget of $20 per day at the ad-group level.

To consider the ROI of TikTok advertising, you need to consider different factors such as:

  • Engagement: TikTok has a highly engaged user base. You can, therefore, increase your engagement on TikTok with your ads, leading to a potentially higher return on investment.
  • Brand awareness. One reason TikTok is popular with advertisers is its ability to make content go viral. Therefore, if you have a well-designed ad, you can easily reach a large audience, increasing your brand awareness and visibility.
  • Targeting options. Recently, we have seen improvements with the TikTok targeting options. However, it is still not as granular as Instagram's, affecting your brand’s ability to reach the right target audience.

Instagram cost and ROI

Instagram costs can be more expensive, especially for brands in more expensive industries and those targeting a broader audience. Because of the platform's high popularity and broader user base, Instagram's CPM (Cost Per Click) and CPM (Cost Per Impression) are higher than TikTok's.

Instagram ad costs depend on the bid level you use, either CPM or CPC. On average, companies usually pay $0.5 to $1 for every click on their links. However, if you are in a highly competitive industry such as apparel, you can pay as high as $3.

When considering the ROI of Instagram advertising, you may need to consider different factors such as:

  • Competitive landscape. TikTok advertising is more expensive because the platform has higher conversions and sales. However, you can use Instagram to increase sales, brand visibility, and differentiation.
  • Visual appeal. Instagram is a platform that focuses on visual appeal. The ads on the platform can easily blend into the user feed and explore pages and stories. With compelling stories and high-quality visuals, you can enhance the effectiveness of Instagram ads and improve the ROI.
  • Advanced targeting. With Instagram ads' advanced targeting, you can reach specific audiences, demographics, audience interests, and behaviors. Instagram also makes it possible to retarget users depending on how they interact with your app or website. Precise retargeting can improve your ROI and increase engagement and ROI.

Verdict on Instagram vs. TikTok Cost and ROI

Therefore, when it comes to cost and ROI, TikTok has a lower upfront cost. In contrast, Instagram has a higher ROI because of its higher targeting and retargeting options and its focus on visual appeal. Instagram is a particularly great platform for brands looking to reach specific audiences and increase conversions.

Content Engagement and Virality

TikTok is a platform where users showcase their creativity using short, quick, and catchy videos. With most users posting video content that is less than 60 seconds long, TikTok suits brands that want to share their messages in short videos. If your ad is well executed, it can quickly gain traction and go viral.

Instagram allows users to post different content formats, such as photo carousels or IGTV, stories, reels, and posts. Instagram ads can also be great for ads that are visually appealing content or use storytelling.

Tracking and Analytics

Both Instagram and TikTok have robust tools you can use to track your analytics. They show many metrics, such as clicks, installs, views, and impressions. To optimize your ad campaigns, be sure to track these metrics.

Tips for Creating Highly Converting TikTok Ads

You should use some tips to ensure the best results on your TikTok ads. These are:

Capture Attention Under 3 Seconds

The first three seconds of the ads will determine whether your audience will watch it to the end or not. Studies show that most TikTok users have short attention spans, so you need to grab their interest quickly. According to TikTok, the first three seconds of the ad are very vital. You should, therefore, make them very interesting to prevent users from scrolling past your videos.

The 3-second rule is also crucial to the batch theory, which claims that TikTok tests the popularity of videos in clusters. The platform pushes your video ad to the first 1% it thinks will find it relevant. If your content proves popular with this audience, TikTok pushes the video to another 1%. The platform will use the same formula to determine if they will continue showing your content.

Use the Recommended Video Specifications

If you create an ad that is blurry or doesn't fit the TikTok specifications, not only will it look unprofessional, but users will also ignore it. If you want to see results with your TikTok ad, ensure it has the correct specifications.

Since TikTok is designed to be accessed on mobile phones, the app's default video format is vertical. When you post a horizontal video, you are not taking advantage of the complete screen space, so your video might not be recommended as much as the vertical video formats.

The recommended size dimensions of TikTok videos are 1080 X 1920 Pixels and an aspect ratio of 9:16. While you can still post a horizontal video with a 16:9 aspect ratio, it will not take up the whole space. Rather, it will result in black borders around the video. If the video is not optimized for the TikTok format, it will struggle to appear on the For You Page.

Take Advantage of the TikTok Ad Library

To get inspiration for your TikTok ad, visit the TikTok Creative Center, a resource for creators who want to advertise on TikTok. This is the home of the TikTok ad library and will show you important details about your ad, such as the top trends, keyword insights, hashtag performance, etc. 

Here are several tips to make good use of the TikTok ad library:

  • Get inspiration. The TikTok ad library will inspire you from the top-performing ads. The ad library allows you to filter the top-performing ads according to details such as the library, country, and objectives. You can also save the most inspiring ads to a collection.
  • Competitor analysis. By viewing the ads that are getting the right results, you can see what the competitors are doing and probably use the same strategy to improve your ads. The successful ads in your niche are your competitors, and you can learn from them to see results. However, instead of copying them, you can use the ads for inspiration.
  • Compare your ad stats to competitors. Comparing your stats to competitors' is one way to measure your ad's effectiveness.
  • Get commercial use sounds. It's important to note that TikTok only has a sound library for brands. Instead of wasting time designing an ad sound, you can use the sounds in the commercial library.

Put Important Information in the Middle

TikTok users can easily get overwhelmed by the amount of information on the Following and For You pages. They are shown details such as the account name, caption of the video, likes, follows, captions, and saves of the video. That also means that some of the information on your videos might not be shown, especially if it's around the borders of the videos. Therefore, put this information at the center to ensure your followers see all the key information on the video.

Localize the Ad Language

You might have a very good ad. But if the people watching it don’t understand the language, it will serve no purpose. Therefore, use a language that people in the target location can understand.

A/B Test to Find What Works

A/B testing is a powerful tool that can help improve your ads' performance. It involves creating two similar ads and comparing their results. Fortunately, TikTok supports A/B testing in targeting, bidding, and optimization. With A/B testing, you can test each element at a time. This will ensure that if there is an improvement, you will know which elements brought the improvement. To get a clear picture of the result, ensure you run the campaign for at least seven days.

Tips for Creating High-Converting Instagram Ads

To ensure that your ads on Instagram convert, here are a few tips you should remember:

Select the Right Goal

When setting up an Instagram ad, you need to define your goal. Your choice of a goal will determine the right targeting method as well as the advertising format. Depending on your needs, you can select goals like:

  • Driving website traffic.
  • Converting target audience.
  • Increasing customer loyalty.
  • Product education.

Marketing experts also suggest focusing on a single goal, topic, or central theme. If your video focuses on many goals, it will look like a sales pitch. 

Choose Your Target Audience

Before setting up your Instagram ad, you must select your campaign objective. Fortunately, IG analytics will provide insights into key information, such as audience behavior, interests, and demographics. For instance, the Ads Manager allows you to select whether to target a broad or a specific target. Therefore, ensure that you target your customer base and create videos that are best suited for them.

Use Storytelling in Ads

Storytelling is one of the most popular content formats on social media and is, therefore, something you should experiment with in your Instagram ads. When creating an Instagram story, ensure it addresses people’s pain points. People like buying products or services that solve their problems.

Therefore, your ad should provide peace if the problem makes them annoyed or agitated. Ensure the video has infectious energy, as it is easy to keep people hooked until the last minute.

Use Trending Videos and Audio

If an audio or a video is trending, people already love it. That means when you use such sounds or video clips in your ad, you draw interest in your ad. However, don't just copy another video. Instead, give it your unique voice. It's also important to choose a sound or video clip that aligns with your brand’s voice.

Add Text

Instagram videos are usually muted by default, so brands should lead with texts or visuals. Instead of just using captions, you can capture your audience’s attention using text in your ads. You can use apps like Apple Clips to highlight key points you wouldn't want your viewers to miss.

Make it Look Less Like an Ad

Video ads must blend naturally in the Instagram feed without being overly promotional. This will ensure that when viewers scroll through their feeds, you capture their attention as much as possible. Remember that users search for organic posts, not ads when they scroll through the Instagram feed. That means if your ad doesn't look like an ad, they are more likely to click on it. Similarly, posting video content that adds value to your customers will likely increase engagement on Instagram.

Use the Correct Video Dimensions

As we noted in TikTok video ads, one factor affecting the effectiveness of ads is their dimensions. This is particularly true for infeed ads because they cannot be enlarged, as is the case with Facebook advertising. 

The in-stories videos usually fill an entire screen even though they should be designed vertically. You should, therefore, avoid vertical videos and format your videos to 600 x 600. This can provide a new look and catch the viewer’s attention.

Have a Well-optimized Landing Page

If you have a call to action that leads users to a landing page, you should ensure the page is mobile-optimized. This is important as many people access Instagram from a mobile device. You will quickly lose them if they tap on Learn More and are directed to a non-optimized page. Therefore, consumers can easily take the desired action with their mobile devices.

As part of optimizing your landing page, it should have the same theme as the Instagram ad. This can be in color, video style, and music. By ensuring that the video's message aligns with your brand identity, your brand will appear authentic, and viewers are more likely to take action.


In the battle of Instagram vs. TikTok social media marketing, none is the clear winner. Each platform has unique features that suit specific audiences and marketing goals. Therefore, you should consider your individual needs when choosing between the two. TikTok offers the benefits of lower cost, increased chances of your videos going viral, and higher engagement with your ads. Therefore, it's a great choice for brands searching for more visibility and awareness, especially if their products target a younger demographic.

On the other hand, Instagram has the benefits of better targeting options, a beautiful platform, and a more extensive user base from a broader demographic. While Instagram ads are more expensive, they are better for increasing conversions and sales. Whether you use Instagram or TikTok marketing, you must optimize your ad for better conversion using the above tips. We recommend you also read our guide on how to make money on TikTok watching videos.