It is a fundamental principle that businesses should be present where their customers are. Social media platforms such as X (formerly known as Twitter) have consistently dominated the digital landscape, and marketing agencies like Snyder Group have consistently advocated for a strong and consistent presence on these platforms.
However, the rise of TikTok—with its meteoric increase in popularity among Millennial and GenZ customers—is making us rethink our strategies. If you are a business owner or marketing manager trying to decide where to allocate your time and marketing efforts, this article is for you. We’ll compare TikTok and X and show you why we’re making the switch.
Key Factors for Social Media Recommendations
As a full-service marketing agency, we make recommendations for social media platform participation and usage based on an organization’s business goals, the organization’s target audience, and that audience’s buyer's journey.
We look at five key factors for each platform to determine how it will fit in with the overall inbound marketing strategy:
- Audience and Reach
- Engagement and User Expectations
- Advertising Opportunities
- Platform Trends
- Data and Analytics
Using these five checkpoints, we determine if a social media platform is an effective lead-generation tool or merely a vanity platform.
Audience and Reach
When it comes to social media, it's crucial to go where your audience is instead of trying to bring them to you. When developing social media strategies for our clients, we carefully analyze the primary audience demographics of each platform and identify growth opportunities to expand their reach to influence the right people.
TikTok's user base is younger than Twitter's, with 44% of Tiktok users being between the ages of 20-39. This group is either making the primary purchase decisions for their household or on the cusp of stepping into that role.
Par for the course, individuals on the older end of the TikTok age range are now taking on leadership positions in their companies or venturing into entrepreneurship. This grants them both purchasing power and authority. Even though these user demographics may not perfectly align with target audiences in terms of age or job seniority, we recognize the importance of establishing brand awareness among these emerging decision-makers.
TikTok boasts a global audience, granting businesses entry to a worldwide market. Surprisingly, 80% of TikTok users exclusively utilize this platform, without active engagement on other social media channels. This signifies not only the immense potential for reaching new audiences but also the unlikelihood of engaging with these users via alternative platforms.
X's user base is diverse, but the platform has been struggling to attract younger users, which could limit its future growth potential. Currently, 38.5% of X’s audience is 25-34 years old, but it’s rank has dropped to the 14th most popular social media platform globally. It’s not a good sign for the potential to reach new audiences. Ultimately, TikTok's massive user base and global reach are an enticing proposition for businesses looking to expand their customer base.
Engagement and User Expectations
Building awareness by being on the platform where our client’s audience spends the majority of their time is important. But, we want to make sure the audience is going to engage with the company’s content and that our client’s offerings align with user expectations.
TikTok’s unique algorithm promotes video content—short and long—and makes recommendations based on what is likely to be popular. This means that videos can gain traction quickly, videos can achieve “virality” and businesses can reach more potential customers sooner.
X, on the other hand, relies on content that is already popular to gain engagement, making it harder to get discovered. Regarding engagement, TikTok is well above its competitors at 4.25%. Its next closest competitor, Instagram, holds an engagement rate of 0.60% and Twitter is dead last with an average engagement rate of 0.05%.
On TikTok, users expect and appreciate creative, fun, and genuine content. Businesses can leverage this by crafting their own entertaining or educational content like product demonstrations, behind-the-scenes looks, or user-generated content.
Conversely, on X, users expect more serious, news-like content, along with quick customer service responses. While X is an effective platform for company announcements, issue resolutions, and industry news, it might not be the best platform for playful, positive brand personality displays. Thus, for our clients aiming to connect with audiences on a personal, human level, we find TikTok a more suitable platform.
It’s also worth noting that ByteDance—the company behind TikTok—is making strides for the social platform to become the next Everything App. If achieved, this would take TikTok from being just a place to watch videos to an app that would allow users to order food for delivery, book travel, and more.
Already, the platform is transforming the eCommerce industry with new shopping features, and more users are utilizing the app to find local businesses. Read The Value of TikTok as a Search Engine to learn more.
It’s always important for us to consider opportunities for paid ad placements on social media for our clients who want to promote their organic content, upcoming events, or new offers.
TikTok offers a range of ad formats, including in-feed videos, brand takeovers, and branded lenses. Unlike X, TikTok offers the opportunity for businesses to create branded content that feels native to the platform. TikTok also allows businesses to target specific audience segments, making ads more effective, and in a survey done earlier this year by New York-based media agency VaynerMedia, the cost for their ads (per 1,000 impressions) on TikTok was half or even a third compared to X, Instagram, or Facebook.
X's ad placements are more limited, with Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends being the main formats. While X's ad formats can be effective, they don't provide the same level of creativity, targeting, or cost-effectiveness as TikTok.
When we are considering social platforms for our clients, we are very interested in trends - either drilling down into the platform to see what content is “trending” or pulling back and looking at the overall platform sentiment and business projections. Content trends allow us to align and build on our Engagement and User Expectation analysis. Considering the sentiment and business projections for a platform also allows us to tap into the overall effectiveness of a social media platform while ensuring our recommendations align with our client’s values and priorities.
TikTok's unique challenge and trend formats have made it a hub for creativity and originality. Businesses can join in on popular challenges or create their own, giving them a unique opportunity to engage with a younger audience. X has also adopted some trend formats, like hashtags, but the platform lacks the same level of creativity and originality as TikTok. TikTok makes it easier for businesses to create unique content that stands out from the crowd.
Platform Sentiment & Business Projections
The public’s opinion of social media platforms can be a murky area rife with negativity and grief. Overall, X has had a major downswing in not only the public’s sentiment and trust but also the sentiment of major brands advertising on the platform due to long-term and recent volatility.
TikTok hasn’t had it much better, however, with almost half of the US voting population polling favorably for a nationwide ban of the app back in the spring of 2023. Things might be looking up in the court of public opinion for TikTok, though.
As of November 2023, the Pew Research Center found that “more Americans are getting news on TikTok, bucking the trend seen on most other social media sites.” This YOY increase (21% from 2020 to 2023) compared to YOY decreases on all other social platforms could signal an increased trust and comfortability among the U.S. adult population in a still-new global app.
Looking ahead at the projections for both social platforms, the future seems bright for TikTok with X facing uncertainty. From examining popular 2024 marketing predictions to scrutinizing past annual ad revenue reports, TikTok is positioned to increase offerings, users, and ad revenue. X will see a continued decline in new users and ad revenue (with rumors of impending bankruptcy).
Data & Analytics
Finally, the Snyder Group team considers the data and analytics tools available in the native platform and the ease of integration with third-party reporting tools.
TikTok has robust in-app analytics tools that allow businesses to track the performance of their content. These tools provide insights into audience demographics, engagement metrics, popular trends, and other valuable data sets. Businesses can even go through a registration process with TikTok for Business Account access—an exclusive feature designed for businesses looking to commercialize their TikTok account.
X also provides standard reporting tools that show metrics for business accounts like followers, impressions, and other high-level statistics. Companies that run ads will have additional campaign dashboards and conversion tracking tools similar to those on other social media platforms. And X integrates with many third-party software platforms like HubSpot or Hootsuite to pull in some, but not all, reporting metrics.
Of the two platforms, TikTok's analytics tools make it easier for businesses to gain insights into how their content is performing and make data-driven decisions, and with new APIs being developed, those insights will seamlessly integrate with third-party analytics software.
While X remains a standard platform for businesses to claim a profile on, the rise of TikTok has disrupted the social media landscape. At Snyder Group, we’re refocusing our social media efforts from X to TikTok to capitalize on the benefits found with the platform.
Tiktok's massive user base, engagement levels, and innovative ad formats make it an enticing proposition for our clients looking to expand their customer base. TikTok also provides unique opportunities for creativity and originality, making it easier for organizations to create standout content. If you're a business owner or marketing manager looking to allocate your marketing budget, we recommend considering TikTok as part of your social media strategy.