The way we use social media rapidly evolves every time a new update, app, or trend comes along – just think of how most millennials swore they would never use TikTok, but many made the shift to downloading the app in 2020 at the peak of the pandemic. The way we spend time on apps has changed so much that it seems like every major social media platform is in competition with one another. After polling our audiences via Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s understandable why they are all rivals.
Since 2020, we’ve seen Instagram and TikTok specifically go head to head in what seems like an annoying competition to come out on top. Most users of the apps complain about this senseless competition, arguing that Instagram should stop trying so hard to be like TikTok. Instagram doesn’t agree with this, though. As we all know by now, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, declared that the OG app was no longer just a photo-sharing app, and the weekly updates have been rolling in ever since.
With this noise coming from the displeased parties about the rivalry between the apps, it seems as though one would assume TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to user preferences and screen time. Which is why we were so shocked to see the disparities in how our followers voted about their favorite apps.
Through Instagram and LinkedIn, we asked our followers about their general social media usage; what apps they spent the most time on, which ones they enjoyed the most, and how they felt about new updates to the platforms. One thing is very clear – age and occupation is a major factor in who spends time on what platform. Our Instagram audience consists mainly of creators, who are 90% women, and are between the ages of 25-34. Our LinkedIn audience consists mostly of folks in the Marketing and Advertising Industry at a seniority level, so we can assume they are over 30.
79% of our Instagram followers spend more time on Instagram over TikTok, but our LinkedIn audience was split evenly, both at 44% and Facebook and Twitter less than 10%. These results were also backed by us polling our audience about which algorithm they preferred, and again, most chose Instagram. We believe the reasoning comes down to where someone feels the best after visiting, which will be personal to every user’s in-app experience.
A creator who has a strong presence on Instagram, but not on TikTok, may feel more drawn to using Instagram more frequently because they have a positive in-app experience more often. Whereas individuals working within the industry, who are not a creator, might enjoy TikTok more because their experiences are more positive over there.
We asked our Instagram audience more extensive questions about their preferences and 52% of users said their TikTok FYP (For You Page) is perfectly curated for them the majority of the time. We imagine this almost even split is due to the majority of users not spending most of their screen-time on TikTok, therefore not maximizing or tailoring the FYP algorithm to their preferences. In fact, 54% of users said they enjoy seeing Reels in their Instagram feed, which would explain why users prefer to spend more time in the Instagram app – it has photo, video, and stories, fully encompassing TikTok’s capabilities but with even more options.
When it comes to influencers, the results also showed that Instagram is preferred when it comes to connecting and engaging with followers. 88% of creators preferred Instagram to TikTok in this aspect, and 78% of users felt the same way about where they prefer to connect with their favorite influencers.
We see lots of users complain about what seems like Instagram’s quest to be more like TokTok, but the data speaks – despite these changes, the majority rules that Instagram still hosts more users who enjoy their in-app time over TikTok. So why does Instagram continue to roll out all of these updates that inch them closer and closer to TikTok? Is Instagram jealous of TikTok’s newfound success? Just kidding….but are they, really?
We found these results so fascinating that we’re going to continue speaking with our audience about their time on social media and get down to the specifics. We have many theories about why this data looks the way it does, so we’re going to put those to the test over the next few weeks. You can follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up with this series and cast your vote.