Undeniably, the internet and the speedy digitization of the economy have put into effect some great changes in how we discover products, how we decide on what to purchase, and our methods of buying and paying for our chosen items. As a matter of fact, in the past decade, there has been swift development in our overall shopping experience and the increasing use of social media has warranted its integration with our favorite e-commerce platforms. Our social media accounts and online stores are continually being more integrated as time goes by.
In recent years, and amid the pandemic, online shopping has been a favorite option of shoppers who value convenience, and safety. And quite frankly, online shopping delivers on its promise to do just that. More people are relying on their social media platforms to find the greatest deals on the plethora of online marketplaces currently available.
Of the many social media platforms which have been favorite and go-to marketplaces for online shoppers, TikTok Shop and Instagram are just some of the few that stand out. Instagram is most famous for premium items such as clothing, and Apple products, while TikTok, as a video platform, is an obvious choice for sellers who want to showcase the novelty of their products.
In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of both Instagram Shopping and TikTok Shop. We compare and contrast the two shopping platforms and provide you with information to guide you on where to buy and where to sell, according to your own needs and preferences.
Let’s start with the audience base. This just means the number of people you can reach within the app. As of 2022, Instagram has 2 billion monthly active users worldwide making it the second largest social media platform, just behind social media giant Facebook. Meanwhile, TikTok ranks third worldwide with 1 billion active users monthly.
By the looks of it, if you plan to make your online store popular with millions of followers, you can do just that with both platforms, with Instagram having a little bit more of an edge over TikTok. However, TikTok is just new to the social media arena so it is expected to garner more users in the years to come with the innovations that it is expected to put in place in the coming years. Instagram also is on a steady rise in terms of new users, with most of them coming from millennials and Gen Z members.
Instagram has a relatively strong user base among people between the ages of 18 to 34. Compared to the number one social media platform, Facebook, this is a somewhat limited audience. On the other hand, TikTok tends to have an increase of users that belong to the 13-to-24 age bracket, a clearly younger generation than what Instagram caters to.
According to data from Socialbee, there are more women (57%) who use Instagram than men (43%). Meanwhile, TikTok users are composed of slightly more men (50.7%) compared to women (49.3%). So that could mean that if you want to target a larger base of women for your cosmetic products online store, or fashion clothing line, you might want to check out how to put out a store on Instagram. And if you are starting with products that are not gender-specific, there is a good chance it can be popular on TikTok, which has a more balanced audience when we are speaking about gender.
There are also some insights from social media experts about what kind of content works for TikTok or Instagram. For example, TikTok users are said to prefer content that is taken in casual settings, and TikTok content is more reproducible, making space for trends and challenges where the users can participate. Meanwhile, on Instagram, the users are more used to content that is carefully edited, with stunning visuals, curated, and look more premium.
Knowing these simple differences in the characteristics of your users can help you plan your social media content and calendar more carefully and effectively.
Instagram relies on visuals. Primarily, it lets you post photos and videos with which you can use their in-app filters to enhance the quality and aesthetic of your product’s photos. Instagram also lets you post a set of up to 10 photos and videos, which could work if you are presenting a collection of products that are related or could be bought in a bundle. Aside from the curated Instagram feed which could give your online store a more premium, professional feel, you could also make use of Instagram Stories, and Instagram reels. Instagram also has a live stream option, which you can maximize if you want to strengthen engagement with your followers. Instagram, however, might not suit your needs if you plan to advertise through writing, because the interface is not necessarily text-friendly.
TikTok, on the other hand, is a video-only platform. But recent additions to the features include an option where you can choose an audio clip to accompany a slideshow you can make from a set of photos. TikTok has a smartphone-friendly interface wherein you can see a lot of content in just a short time by scrolling from your screen. TikTok has a short-form video limit which encourages advertisers to be direct-to-the-point, while at the same time, entertaining and engaging.
Another advantage of Instagram, because of its affinity with Meta, is a more advanced content creation hub that lets you schedule your posts ahead of time, whenever you deem most effective. TikTok currently does not have this option which can necessitate additional effort from creators as they have to be online and upload their content in the best possible time they have inferred from their profile’s analytics.
When running paid ad campaigns on either TikTok or Instagram, we have to keep in mind a few things. One of these would be the costs. Right at the moment, being the newbie in the market, TikTok offers lower costs for running an ad campaign compared to the more established Instagram. However, Instagram’s platform can offer you a multitude of ways to advertise – it may be in the form of Instagram Stories, an in-feed sponsored promotion, or the platform’s response to TikTok’s short-form video phenomenon, Instagram Reels.
Since TikTok relies heavily on user-generated content, and it also benefits your business if an ad looks natural, it is easier to run ads on TikTok when we speak in this aspect. This is especially beneficial for small businesses that do not have much budget for production expenses, as you can produce ads with your trusty camera, or even your smartphone. In TikTok, it’s not so much about being polished or perfect, what’s important is that the content is relatable and entertaining. Although it is easier to run ads on this platform, you have to make sure your content is optimized and can adapt to the fast-changing trends to get your spot on the user’s algorithms.
Instagram, on the other hand, works if you want to keep your brand premium-looking. While the users are checking their friend’s stunning outfits, it would make sense to run an ad for the best dresses your store has to offer and include where they can go to get them. Since Instagram is owned by Meta, arguably the largest social media company today, the effectiveness of running ad campaigns on the platform goes through a more sophisticated process and delivers better results.
In an experimental ad campaign comparison, a social media metrics agency ran the same 15-second ad, with the same content, and with the same budget in both TikTok and Instagram Reels and compared the results. The findings returned with the result favoring Instagram Reels which had double the reach, and triple the impressions when compared to the TikTok version of the same ad.
Instagram has a set of analytics tools developed by its parent company, Meta. The Instagram analytics can also be viewed alongside and integrated with the counterpart Facebook page for your store. You also have the option to look at Instagram-specific metrics. These metrics are pretty straightforward, allowing the newbie seller to evaluate and draw out conclusions easily from the set of data and information the tools provide.
It allows the seller also to measure the success of their previous ad campaigns, to guide them on which areas to improve on the next time they run a campaign. With the Instagram Analytics tool, you can track follower growth, top locations, age range, gender, and most active times of your users. The good news is that you can look at your numbers with a wider perspective because Instagram stores the aforementioned data for up to 90 days.
On the other side, TikTok also provides you with its own analytics tool when you activate the Business Account option on your TikTok account. TikTok’s analytics are divided into two: Content and Followers. The content tab provides you with data on video views, profile views, which region viewed your videos the most, and the like. Meanwhile, the Followers tab provides you insight into the characteristics of your followers such as gender, location, and user activity. However, TikTok only keeps this data for 28 days, so you might want to transfer them to an excel sheet monthly, just so you can monitor the trends within a longer timeframe.
Both Instagram and TikTok have rolled out their option to “check out” your customers’ preferred items from the platforms themselves. Through the Instagram Shopping add-on, you can link your online store to your Instagram profile or reels to highlight the products featured in your posts and advertisements. This allows for an option for users to quickly purchase the said products by clicking on the links, which will direct them to your online shop.
TikTok Shop, meanwhile, lets buyers directly buy from the TikTok Shop platform itself. This can also be synchronized with your store’s website which is based on another online marketplace platform such as Shopify or WooCommerce. In its initial offering, TikTok hopes to jumpstart e-commerce activities on the platform by providing a free shipping option that buyers and sellers can avail of.
Integration with other platforms
Integrated is more solid. Integrated is the way to go. With the multitude of social media platforms, creators and sellers are caught between the need to maintain a presence on as many platforms as possible and the extra work you have to put in to effectively manage all platforms at the same time. That’s why our favorite social media platforms, which are also constantly evolving to be lucrative marketplaces, have offered us options to integrate your accounts, synchronize your listings and products, and just overall optimize your store’s presence with more streamlined content.
Instagram, being a part of the assets owned by social media giant Meta, can easily be integrated with a counterpart Facebook page, allowing for synchronized content across channels. Meta-owned WhatsApp can also be integrated into your Instagram and Facebook channels to allow your buyers to directly contact you through the messaging app should they have questions and concerns.
Just recently also, TikTok Shop has partnered with popular online marketplace hosting sites like Shopify and WooCommerce, among others, which lets your whole catalog of products be reflected onto your TikTok Shop. Not only is your TikTok account a venue for advertisement and promotion, but now can also serve as a satellite online marketplace of your Shopify or WooCommerce store.
Play with their strengths
Honestly, both TikTok and Instagram can be very good in boosting awareness about your brand. And each of them has its strong points that you can maximize and adapt your social media plan to. Come to think of it, if you have the time and the energy to manage both marketplaces, then why not? While maintaining a curated selection of your best items on Instagram, you can couple it with some interactive, demonstrative, and entertaining videos to promote your products on TikTok. Ultimately, it is up to you to try and test, mix and match, and find the perfect blend of marketing tools to use to get that record-sales month that you aspire to!