Instagram vs. TikTok: Which Delivers Better Business ROI in 2024?

instagram vs tiktok for business banner

In 2019, Calvin Klein took its #mycalvins campaign to TikTok. The brand was in rocky waters; it had lost $21 million in revenue in the third quarter of 2018, and its famed creative director, Raf Simons, had resigned. Rumors of layoffs were rife, and the closing of the Milan office was like a final nail in the coffin.

But the TikTok campaign turned out to be a hit. It became CK’s most-viewed digital campaign within 24 hours of its launch. It generated huge buzz, exponentially increasing brand interactions and engagement. 

Later, the same campaign was repurposed for Instagram, Facebook ads, and other platforms. CK dubbed it as a move to digital-first marketing, with the CEO expressing the brand’s desire to create “culturally relevant experiences.”

Moral of the story: you need to make your presence felt on the correct social media channels to stay relevant and afloat. 

But social media is not homogenous. Should you choose TikTok like CK did or go for something more traditional, like Instagram? 

Instagram vs TikTok, which is better for your business? Let’s find out. 

What’s in TikTok and Instagram for You?  

woman usinng social media on her phone

Audience and money. 

To meet your buyers where they are, you have to be on social media, especially if you’re a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand. Social media marketing is essential to the reputation management and survival of brands. 

Why? 

Let the numbers do the talking. TikTok currently has nearly two billion monthly active users (MAUs) on a global scale and continues to be the most downloaded app in over 40 countries. Instagram has a whopping 2.4 billion MAUs. 

You likely already know that your target audience, or at least a part of it, is on either—likely both—of these two platforms. Studies show that 43% of internet users browse their social media feeds for new products or services, with Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook being the most popular choices.

Not surprisingly, marketers are also espousing the benefits of social media for business. 

If you’re a B2C or D2C brand, you need to take social media for business very seriously because it can help with the following:

Branding and Marketing 

    By default, social media platforms are low-cost launch pads for businesses. 

    You could be a global consumer brand like L’Oreal or a small Etsy shop. Irrespective of the revenue and size of your business, you can create an Instagram page for your brand or launch a TikTok account for free. 

    The best part? 

    It does not require money to create a social media profile. Think about it: Instagram and TikTok have the potential to become critical enablers for your business if you know how to use them correctly. 

    Both platforms have dedicated built-in tools to help corporations and solopreneurs with branding and marketing. 

    Let’s examine how these social media giants can help you. 

    Instagram for Business 

    Instagram has ad, video, direct messaging, and branded content tools that you can leverage to your benefit. 

    For example, if you have a business account or a creator profile on Instagram, you can use the platform’s Branded Content Tools to create and/or share branded content. You can also collaborate with influencers for paid partnerships. 

    These features are subject to Instagram’s Community Guidelines and other terms and conditions, but they’re valuable solutions for your business needs. 

    You can build and boost brand awareness through paid partnerships. Instagram’s monthly user base accounts for 28% of global internet users overall. There is tremendous potential for brand outreach if you play your cards right. 

    Partnering with an influencer in your niche will also help you gain credibility with your target audience because they trust social media personalities more than brands. Research has shown that a phenomenon called trust transfer makes consumers believe in brands that their favorite influencers recommend or use. 

    The cost of sponsoring a post varies widely depending on the influencer you’re working with and other factors, but the returns are surely worth the investment. There’s a good reason why Instagram is the most used influencer marketing platform in the U.S. 

    TikTok for Business

    TikTok introduced its dedicated business solutions at the end of 2020 with the goal of helping brands “to be creative storytellers and meaningfully engage with the TikTok community.” 

    Like Instagram, TikTok for Business offers tools to help you run ad campaigns on the platform, including the following: 

    • Ads Manager 
    • TikTok Analytics 
    • TikTok Pixel 
    • Budgeting tools 
    • Audience targeting and engagement tools 
    • Driving traffic to your TikTok page
    • And more 

    Brands also have access to TikTok Tactics, an e-learning suite that can help you become a pro at advertising on the platform. 

    Key Takeaway

    TikTok and Instagram similarities are many. Both offer resources to help you with branded marketing, and you don’t need to invest in additional third-party solutions to get started. 

    The difference lies in the kind of audience you can reach and the type of branded content you want to create and promote. TikTok is favored by Gen Z the most, followed by millennials, whereas millennials love Instagram. 

    You can still target Gen Z on Instagram, but you’re less likely to see impressive results. 

    TikTok also has a largely female-leaning audience, whereas Instagram is more equal in terms of its user base’s gender. 

    This demographic data affects the kind of products you want to market on either platform. 

    TikTok is great for affordable fashion brands, cosmetics, video games, perfumes, home decor, and novelty e-commerce products. Mid-range to premium lifestyle, healthcare, beauty, and e-commerce products sell better on Instagram. 

    That said, you should certainly experiment on TikTok if you want to showcase authenticity and build a reputation as a brand of the people. Instagram’s sophisticated business tools are excellent for traditional-leaning online advertising. 

    In fact, a comparative study between TikTok and Instagram ads revealed that the latter has outstanding reach while the former drives more engagement. As far as maximizing your ad spend on social media, you can perform well on both platforms when you know how to use them. 

    Sales 

      There’s no doubt you can utilize TikTok or Instagram for money and boost your sales. Whether it’s TikTok Shop or Instagram Shopping, you can create an interactive and immersive experience for your followers and page visitors. 

      Apart from creating a storefront for your business with product details, you can embed shopping/product tags in your live streams, posts, videos, or even ads to further drive sales. 

      The biggest difference between Instagram and TikTok is in the shop tab. While Instagram had one and then removed it from the navigation bar, TikTok has retained this feature. So, customers can shop for products with one click from their homepage on TikTok, but Instagram users can no longer do so.

      Instagram claims it removed the shop tab from the navigation menu to improve the UX. However, insiders say the feature wasn’t as successful as expected, thus the removal.

      TikTok provides a smooth end-to-end in-app shopping experience, which makes it a better bet for your business. Customers are further encouraged to purchase with TikTok’s secure in-app checkout, logistics, order management, post-sale management, and more. 

      So, TikTok wins brownie points for providing these valuable sales features. 

      Key Takeway

      Though more users tend to shop on Instagram compared to TikTok, these purchasing patterns are expected to change in the future. You can gain immensely from TikTok Shop, especially if you’re a fashion, lifestyle, or beauty brand. 

      TikTok and Instagram Business Trends to Follow in 2024

      group of people shooting a trending video

      These are the hottest social media trends that should drive your TikTok business strategy: 

      Invest in TikTok Ads 

        After a stellar performance in 2023, TikTok ads are projected to rake in $18.5 billion in revenue in 2024. There’s no reason not to leverage TikTok ads to increase your sales. 

        TikTok has a dynamic auction and bidding model for ads, so you can control how much you want to spend for views, impressions, or clicks. 

        There is a minimum cap for campaigns ($50/day) and ad groups ($20/day), and you can choose one of these goals: 

        • Generating leads 
        • Increasing views on your videos 
        • Redirecting traffic to your website/app 
        • Growing your community

        So you can streamline your ads to achieve pre-defined targets to increase your brand outreach and sales. 

        Singer Rihanna’s cosmetic brand Fenty Beauty launched a TikTok ad campaign for a new foundation. It led to a 100% increase in website traffic and translated into a 50% increase in sales. 

        The only thing you need to be careful about is the content of your ads. Those who buy on TikTok do not prioritize aesthetics—the glamor and filters of Instagram do not appeal to them. Nor can a run-of-the-mill ad impress most discerning users on TikTok nowadays. 

        To maximize your marketing ROI on TikTok, your ads must be raw, relatable, and unusual. Your videos should be playful and entertaining—worth pausing the scroll for. Ads that perform well are immersive, interactive, and optimized for mobile viewing. 

        Fenty Beauty’s TikTok marketing strategy is an excellent amalgamation of everything we discussed. Fenty Beauty works with a diverse base of influencers, encouraging them to create authentic and inclusive content using the brand’s makeup products. The brand also utilizes User Generated Content (UGC) to drive authenticity home. 

        Through a combination of strategic influencer marketing, UGC, and trustworthy content, Fenty Beauty has been able to crack the TikTok advertising code. It has resulted in the brand’s excellent outreach and grand success on the platform and beyond. 

        Leverage TikTok SEO 

          Move over Google—TikTok is what younger internet users are turning to for research. From generic queries to product searches, TikTok is becoming the go-to “search engine” for Gen Z and Gen Alpha. 

          Turn your attention to TikTik SEO to make your video ads and posts turn up on your customers’ For You pages, generic search results, and even on Google. 

          TikTok does not take follower count into consideration for SEO rankings. Instead, SERPs are based on a customer’s interaction with your videos or related content, geographic location, language settings, hashtags, music, closed captions, and more. 

          As long as you can create good quality branded content, you can grab the attention of potential shoppers, drive brand awareness, and capture leads. 

          Focus on Interactive Livestreams 

            Live shopping is a rising trend that brands and solopreneurs use to directly engage with customers and sell their products. You should consider doing it, too. 

            Here’s why. 

            On live streams, you directly engage with customers. They can feature in the stream, ask questions, and purchase on the spot. Research shows that live streams boost audience engagement by a whopping 150%, which you cannot hope to do with pre-recorded video ads. 

            Include this highly interactive and immersive method of interacting with your customers in our TikTok strategy. Open a poll or a Q&A to get started. You can also rope in influencers to do a live stream of your products—the options are many. 

            While Instagram disabled its live shopping feature in March 2023, you can still use Instagram Live to launch a product or a campaign for enhanced outreach. 

            If you want to sell, turn to TikTok—creators and brands can sell directly on the app during a live stream. 

            Prioritize Authenticity and Real People 

              Selling successfully on social media, irrespective of the platform, is all about being authentic and connecting with your target audience. The most definitive way of doing this is by keeping real people at the front and center of your TikTok and Instagram marketing. 

              Choose your influencers wisely because trust plays a massive role in how your audience engages with your brand. You should also pursue collabs with other brands or creators whose work aligns with your vision. 

              Strategize Based on Macro Trends 

                Social media is fickle. Things are changing even as you read this article. It may seem impossible to keep up with the micro-trends on TikTok and Instagram, but it is vital to match the changing colors of social media. 

                The best method to do so is putting macro trends at the front and center of your social media for business strategy. 

                Fashion brand collaborations on TikTok often pay rich dividends, as is evident in Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins campaign. 

                Another example to take a cue from is Amazon. The global e-commerce giant took over the #tiktokmademebuyit macro trend and partnered with Cyd Simone, an LA-based fashion influencer, to create relatable content. The videos were made to look like Simone filmed them using her mobile phone. It has helped Amazon Fashion connect with its target audience and bring #amazonfinds to the limelight, ultimately driving sales.

                The Verdict: Instagram vs TikTok, Which is Better for Your Business? 

                woman writing on a board

                As of 2023, Instagram edged past TikTok by a considerable margin in delivering better ROI for brands investing in social media marketing. But if current trends indicate what’s to come, we would place our bets on TikTok in 2024 and beyond. 

                The times, they are a’changing. Your brand should too, especially if you want to leverage disruptive marketing. Don’t shy away from TikTok because you risk irrelevance and pass up on an excellent opportunity to boost your bottom line. 

                But do not underestimate Instagram just because we’re favoring TikTok. To make the most of social media for business, look at what you sell and to whom. This should help you decide which of these two frontrunners can deliver better business ROI in 2024. 

                Did you like this post? Follow the Epic Owl blog for more. 

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