#121 TikTok vs Instagram for talent marketing 


TikTok vs Instagram for talent marketing?

TikTok’s global growth has been massive; there is no way to deny that. 

Currently, TikTok has 1 billion users globally while Instagram has 1,3 billion. 

And my Finnish audience should know that apparently, already 1,2 million people use TikTok in Finland. That’s about 1/6 of our nation’s population, so it’s pretty massive here too!

Its growth has been spectacular, so it’s fair to say TikTok is a hit. 

But is TikTok something we should consider in talent marketing?

Is it replacing Instagram?

In this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, I talk about TikTok vs Instagram for talent marketing professionals. What are the key differences between these two platforms, and what does this mean for employer branding and recruitment marketing?

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TikTok vs Instagram: Facts and figures

If you are unfamiliar with TikTok or don’t hire young people, it is easy to think TikTok is not a useful social media for talent marketing purposes. 

However, this belief is nearing its end as TikTok has become a massive hit, and its popularity is starting to follow Instagram’s path.

It’s time for us to talk about TikTok and compare this social media with Instagram in the context of talent marketing. Or HR marketing, if you prefer that term.

Let’s start with the basics and make a little comparison between these two platforms and their functions.

  • Instagram, as we know, is a free photo and video-sharing app that functions on iOS and Android and offers a host of features for creating and sharing photos and videos.
  • TikTok is a free short-form video-sharing app to watch, create, edit, and share 15 sec to 3 min videos. The Hootsuite blog states TikTok in three words as “Real short videos”.
  • Both apps have a desktop version with limited functionality compared to the app.
  • Instagram Reels and TikTok videos are similar products, albeit these platforms differ in how their users prefer using these two products.
  • Instagram is owned by Meta (formerly known as the Facebook company), while TikTok is owned by a Chinese firm called ByteDance.

TikTok vs Instagram: Users

  • Instagram currently has 1,3 billion users as opposed to the 1 billion users on TikTok.
  • According to Omnicore Agency:
    • Roughly 43% of TikTok’s global audience in 2022 is between 18 to 24 years old
    • 32% are between 25-34 years old
    • 57% are female
    • 90% visit the app more than once per day, spending an average of 52 minutes on the app.
  • About Instagram, the same source states:
    • 49% of Instagram users are female
    • And funnily enough, 31% of the users are between 25-34 years of age, which is the same as on TikTok.
    • 31% are 18-24 years old (meaning if your target audience is youngsters, more of them are on TikTok these days than Instagram)
    • Instagram users spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform (but this data is from 2021)

Content marketing on TikTok vs Instagram

Instagram users are more used to seeing promotional content on Instagram than TikTok users on TikTok.

When Instagram is considered an established marketing platform, I would call TikTok an Indie platform where business content is an interruption and kind of like a commercial break as opposed to business content on Instagram.

According to the Hootsuite blog post, as mentioned above, TikTok is the world’s 7th most popular social platform and the app of choice for the “hyper-influential Gen Z”.

  • TikTok is to blame for many culinary trends, the new wave of famous dogs and Addison Rae’s acting career. 
  • And let’s not forget that a very recent hype topic for HR, “quiet quitting”, became infamous from this TikTok video

Summary of the Facts and Figures

  1. Instagram is more established and has a wider user base than TikTok, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that TikTok is likely to fight position number one with Instagram in the next couple of years. 
  2. Instagram also reaches middle-aged users, whereas this group, my group, is significantly smaller on TikTok.
  3. Instagram is easier for talent marketing because it’s not just video content. Having to create TikTok-styled video content can be hard for talent marketing professionals. TikTok vibe differs from the Instagram vibe, and the golden rule of social media thumb is always to adopt the style and vibe of the platform when creating content.
  4. I see a lot of new opportunities for employer branding and recruitment marketing on TikTok, especially if your target audience is between 18 to 24.

Content creation styles on TikTok and Instagram

Which is a better platform to promote your business as a workplace? 

TikTok or Instagram?

Both platforms are based on entertaining the audience with short-form content. 

Even though we can post photos and other images on Instagram, we also know the algorithm favours Reels big time and Reels is equivalent to TikTok video content.

There are essential differences between the content creation options, styles and expectations regarding these two platforms and which is better for your talent marketing needs.

#1 TikTok content is way more entertaining in nature

The entire vibe on TikTok is an entertainment platform, and this time, I mean the kind of making you laugh or gag. 

I don’t see Instagram users watching people squeezing blackheads on Instagram, whereas this type of content is very popular on TikTok. 

TikTok videos that take on are extremely addictive.

This same expectation doesn’t quite exist on Instagram. I would say Instagram users make it easier for us than TikTok users.

Humour very much exists on TikTok when it is not expected on Instagram.

#2 Instagram is about storytelling 

At the core of Instagram is storytelling. 

Instagram is an app where brands can connect with their audiences emotionally, leading to private conversations on the app’s direct messaging function, public comments on the posts and sharing content on your Stories for your audiences to see and explore.

That’s exactly why Instagram is natively better for building brands and connecting on the required emotional level with your audience members.

TikTok isn’t like that. You consume videos like you were on a drive-in lane in a hurry to fill your appetite with a fast remedy.

I don’t see TikTok “personal” at all. There just isn’t that vibe at all. It’s more like a drive-through stand-up comedy show where you go entertain yourself for a while and then leave without exchanging a word with anyone. 

I think this makes TikTok better for talent marketers because too many talent marketers simply post content and never engage with their audience as they should. On TikTok, you don’t have to! 

#3 Both platforms can get you a lot of visibility

I think both platforms are equal in getting visibility for your content. Although because TikTok is still such a novelty, it is probably easier to get visibility there now.

While TikTok requires a specific vibe from your content, Instagram gives you more formats to offer your content.

Here, I think it’s good to mention that TikTok is no longer about dance videos. I’m quite new to TikTok and have started to post content there, and I’ve never made a dance video. 

#4 The content styles are very different

Even though both share a similar video format: Instagram has Reels and, well, TikTok videos, the content styles and vibes are significantly different, as mentioned.

TikTok is very much about entertaining your viewers. Even if you provided brand content, still, it’s better to be more on the fun side than on the corporate jargon side.

When you look at the videos on TikTok, the app has multiple ways to edit your videos. Some [editing options] are cool and different, and the [general trend is that] videos are not that polished. 

If you were to ask marketing to create a TikTok video and they came up with a highly polished brand video, it would fail on TikTok. That’s not the kind of content people want to see on TikTok.

I think this is great because it is easier to create content that does not have the requirement for perfection!

On the other hand, Instagram has always been a more polished and aesthetic platform. People want to see beautiful and aesthetically pleasing content on Instagram. 

While TikTok is entertaining on the fun side, Instagram is entertaining on the inspirational, self-aspiration side. If that’s even a word, I will say it anyway.

TikTok tickles your fancy for a laugh or a curiosity to watch a close-up of someone pulling a bug from your nostril. 

Instagram tickles your fancy for a better life and an inspiration for feeling good.

Conclusion: TikTok vs Instagram

Overall, Instagram is a better platform for employer branding, but TikTok might be a better platform for recruitment marketing and employee ambassadors sharing about their work.

However, because TikTok is so novel, it’s probably easier to grow an audience on TikTok if you are just starting and don’t have a talent marketing presence on either platform.

What are your thoughts about TikTok?

Also, I am on TikTok – a newbie – but I’ve recently included TikTok in my social media strategy as a modern employer branding coach and consultant. So, I’m determined to work through the TikTok jungle, learn the vibes and build my audience there.

You can find me on TikTok as @rantanensusanna. The same as my Instagram and Twitter handles.

Hey, listen! If you are using Instagram or TikTok for talent marketing already, connect with me on either or both platforms and send me a DM to say hello!

And if you’d like me to check out your talent marketing profile or content, let me know through DM. I think I can fit in a few free checks and tailored tips.

That’s @rantanensusanna on both Instagram and TikTok.

Next week, I plan to continue with this topic and talk about TikTok for employer branding and recruitment marketing. 

Ok, that’s all for this week my friends!

Come back next week for more modern employer branding juice to keep you going!

My name is Susanna Rantanen. I teach you all you need to know about mastering modern employer branding and building your own brand as a recruiter and employer branding expert to help YOU to build the career you dream of!

Moi moi!

Fancy some more? Check out this episode & blog post about Talent Marketing on Instagram 2022. I checked, and those tips are very valid still as we move over to 2023!

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