If this piece were to be written in 2016, the focus would instead be on Instagram versus Pinterest in terms of channel section. Notably, Pinterest has since moved well past its fashion roots. However, in the several years that have passed since the majority of their head-to-head competition, Instagram has outpaced in feature-set adoption and user-base growth.
This is 2021, though, so the decision on which social channel to test first comes with new considerations. Take for instance the Intellifluence Social Channel Usefulness Matrix developed in 2016.
In this matrix, Instagram would lose out on perception of professional tone and the ability to provide a detailed review for a brand. Five years later, internal campaign data shows that this is no longer the case, as channel maturation has led Instagram to be sought after as the more professional and prudent business decision. This is especially true when compared against TikTok, as the average age of TikTok skews towards median Generation Z (13 to 15 years of age).
To complete that comparison, according to Statista the dominant user base on Instagram is comprised of the youngest Millennials (25-34 years of age); the next largest group is older Generation Z, which helps to explain some of the content and audience crossover between the networks.
On the basis of age, and therefore disposable income, Instagram is the clear winner. This is not to say that the sheer growth of networks like TikTok is forgotten by brands utilising influencer platforms like Intellifluence. Instead, large brands with ecommerce divisions and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands alike are choosing to build out initial campaigns with more predictable outcomes, prior to navigating the minefield of TikTok fails.
No ghosting on Instagram
Take for example a leader in the sleep space, GhostBed, owned by Nature’s Sleep. In a recent interview with Intellifluence, its director of digital marketing Rich Bernstein had the following to say regarding Instagram’s maturation in product extensibility and inclusion: “We do this for most of our products… I like Instagram for integrating the posts [directly] into our product pages.”
These are the types of later-stage development features that come through product maturation, by recognising the conversion optimisation benefits of influencer card embeds.
On whether the integrations and consistent Instragrammer postings were truly leading to funnel conclusions and not just acting as a vanity metric via a bolus of traffic, Bernstein explained “on our survey checkout we do get ‘saw an influencer on Instagram liked your product and that’s why I ordered’”, putting to rest the notion of Instagram not being capable of driving actual sales.
None of this is to claim that TikTok is incapable of consistently driving similar sales figures in the future. Provided TikTok continues to execute on its product roadmap and its audience matures alongside it, in another five years’ time brands will assuredly be spending far more of their paid social budget on the channel. Until that time, we anticipate they’ll continue searching for top Instagram Influencers.