Do People Spend More Time on Instagram or TikTok?


When contemplating which social networks your brand should be on, you may wonder, where are users spending their time? You don’t want to invest time, energy and money into a sinking ship, but is it right to hop on the latest social network, just because it’s new and shiny?

In the battle for attention, which social network is king?


TikTok’s Meteoric Rise in User Engagement

According to a recent report by Insider Intelligence, TikTok has surpassed Instagram in terms of daily minutes spent by US adults on the platform. With projections indicating that TikTok users aged 18 and up are expected to spend a cumulative 4.43 billion minutes per day in 2023, TikTok is outpacing Instagram’s estimated 3.91 billion daily minutes.


Fewer Users, More Engagement

Despite having fewer users than Instagram—82.3 million monthly adult users for TikTok compared to Instagram’s 118.4 million—TikTok leads in engagement levels. This surge is particularly impressive, given TikTok’s shorter life span and smaller overall user base.

But why is TikTok winning when it comes to user engagement? For starters, it’s all about the fun, creative vibe the platform radiates, drawing in folks from every age group and walk of life. Users get to express themselves freely and authentically–something that is missing from Instagram’s heavily curated aesthetically pleasing feeds. 

TikTok serves up videos that users are likely to enjoy, thanks to its sharp algorithm that personalizes content to individual tastes. Plus, with features like in-app shopping and live streams, TikTok isn’t just for mindless scrolling, it’s also a space where brands can form genuine connections with their audience. It’s a mix of entertaining, relatable content and handy features that keep users coming back for more.


The Advertising Divide

Although TikTok has robust user engagement, Instagram continues to reign supreme in advertising spend, due in part to its integration with Facebook and other Meta-owned applications. This integration allows Instagram to generate approximately six times more advertising dollars per adult user per hour compared to TikTok—for now.


TikTok’s Future Trajectory

The Insider Intelligence forecast reveals that TikTok, which already surpassed Instagram in total daily minutes in 2022, is on track to outpace Facebook by 2025. This prediction underscores TikTok’s substantial growth and its increasing significance in the social media landscape.


Rapid Growth and Ad Spend

As TikTok continues to expand its user base and enhance offerings, the platform is poised to secure a larger slice of advertising spend. Its daily engagement among US adults has skyrocketed by approximately 547% between 2019 and 2023, in contrast to Instagram’s 57% growth during the same period.


Reels: Instagram’s Counter-Attack

Instagram, not standing idle, launched Reels to counter TikTok’s surge. However, while Reels has certainly gained traction with both advertisers and users, it still lags behind TikTok in terms of popularity and user engagement.


The Pandemic Effect

COVID acted as a catalyst for increased social media use, with platforms like TikTok capitalizing on this trend by offering unique, engaging content, attracting and retaining users longing for connection while social distancing or in lockdown.


Time Spent Across Platforms: A Rising Tide

Social media engagement is universally rising. TikTok leads the pack with a 547% projected increase in daily time spent from 2019 to 2023, while other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, X (formerly Twitter) and Reddit also experienced growth. Facebook is the only platform projected to see a decline in time spent in the coming years.


Meta’s Dominance in Ad Spending

Despite TikTok’s engagement metrics, Instagram and Facebook continue to be the preferred platforms for advertisers in the US, thanks to Meta’s user-friendly and effective advertising tools and large user bases.


YouTube: The Silent Contender

While the spotlight is on TikTok and Meta’s platforms, YouTube consistently outperforms all in terms of total minutes spent, making it a vital platform for advertisers and content creators alike.


An Evolving Digital Landscape

The ongoing battle for user attention between Instagram and TikTok highlights the dynamic and competitive nature of the social media space. With TikTok rapidly gaining ground due to its high engagement levels, and Instagram countering with innovations like Reels, the landscape is continually evolving, offering brands new and exciting opportunities for customer engagement and advertising.


Stay Ahead with Legendary Social Media

In today’s digital environment, having a knowledgeable partner is crucial. Legendary Social Media is here to help you navigate through the complex social media terrain – including TikTok – offering expert advice and services tailored to your brand’s unique needs and objectives. Ready to take your social media marketing to the next level? Get in touch with us today!


Related Articles 

How to get verified on Tiktok

7 tips to going viral on Tiktok 

How does the TikTok algorithm work


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