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Will the Rise of TikTok Signal the End of Instagram Influencers?

Written by Greta Cunningham, Account Executive

The year is 2018: the Philadelphia Eagles have just won their first Super Bowl; "God's Plan" is the most popular song in the world; Everyone is on Instagram.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has skyrocketed in popularity, reaching 1 billion users in June 2018. With the rise of the popular social media platform came an increase in influencer marketing on Instagram. Marketers and influencers saw the opportunity Instagram presented for branded content. The value of visual posts on Instagram made it one of the first social media platforms to create links between influencers and brands.

Influencer marketing has become the norm amongst marketing professionals in the last decade, and Instagram is a long-time favorite. In a 2016 influencer marketing survey, 87% of marketing professionals claimed to use Facebook and Instagram as platforms for branded content. This trend has continued, with 80% of brands that use influencers using Instagram in 2022. There seems to be no stop to the power of influencer marketing, but the question is whether Instagram will continue to be a giant in the social media industry.

It’s no secret that TikTok has taken over the internet (and the world) since its global launch in 2018. As with most other social media platforms, TikTok has become a hub of influencer marketing. Given that TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform in the world at the moment, brands are starting to wonder if marketing on TikTok can be even more valuable than Instagram.

A significant distinction between Instagram and TikTok is the unfiltered nature of TikTok. There are several routes to achieving Instagram fame, but the norm is curated filtered content. TikTok’s algorithm is far more random, making it possible for virtually anyone to go viral on the platform. TikTok, at the moment, is the newer, more exciting platform, and brands are adapting their marketing strategies to the TikTok format.

One of these strategies that brands have utilized is focusing more on micro-influencers. A micro-influencer is a user whose following is smaller than a celebrity but larger than the average user. On TikTok, a micro-influencer is anyone who has between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. The TikTok algorithm opens fame to a broader range of users; because of this, brands have more influencers and niche audiences to use for advertising.

One could argue that the current interest in TikTok is simply exploring a new marketing opportunity. However, it is important to note that TikTok engagement far outperforms Instagram. Regarding micro-influencers, TikTok has an engagement rate of 17.96%, compared to 3.86% on Instagram. The same is true for traditional "mega influencers," where TikTok has a 3.75% higher engagement rate than Instagram.

Instagram has noticed the focus shifting to TikTok and has tried to evolve the platform to keep up. The addition of Instagram reels, arguably a TikTok-style feature, shows that Instagram is attempting to adapt to the new approach to social media.

Despite faltering behind TikTok in a few areas, Instagram has proven itself as a consistent platform for brands to advertise. There is no indication that marketing professionals are jumping ship to focus on TikTok entirely. Still, the shift is a factor in how Instagram will evolve over the next few years.

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