Behavioral Differences Between Instagram, TikTok & Snapchat

TikTok is used to share video apps comprising short clips with music, while Snapchat usage revolves around a photo and video messaging app for sharing “stories” and other brief contents. Across the United States, Snapchat usage is highest among millennials, and 78% of those aged 18-24 using the internet frequently access the platform to typically follow friends, celebrities, and publishers, while those using TikTok primarily follow content creators, celebrities, and brands. One of the most popular features when using Instagram is hashtags (an average post on Instagram contains 10.7 hashtags). TikTok has differentiated itself by making it easy for anyone to become a content creator, and the most popular feature or effect among its users is face zoom.

Purpose of Usage Or User Need

  • TikTok users share video apps comprising short clips with music, while Snapchat users revolve around a photo and video messaging app to exchange “stories” and other brief contents. TikTok is beating several apps (like Vine’s) across the United States because it meets the needs of several users who desire video recording and editing functionalities. Tiktok has a mobile-first and excellent recommendation algorithm with robust social features.
  • Some actions popular among TikTok users when they utilize the platform include comedy sketches, lip-syncing, dancing, “and cats.”
  • Families are switching to the internet platform known as TikTok to stay informed, entertained, and connected. That happened before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has accelerated the use of TikTok as social distancing has brought local families closer together.
  • TikTok provides families with collaborative tools to display their creativity, share stories, and support their communities. Simultaneously, family members often learn to navigate the digital media together as they safely use TikTok.
  • Most American teens use Instagram to research new products and brands. 73% of United States teens reveal that Instagram is the best platform for brands to communicate about new promotions or products. Instagram is one of the platforms that trended during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • One reason Instagram recently trended is that it gives room for user-generated content. User-generated content is authentic and creates trust among customers, a process that increases both sales and engagement. 85% of consumers feel user-generated content is more influential when compared to brand content.
  • About 130 million Instagram accounts click on shopping posts to research more on products every month. With 18.47% of Instagram’s daily traffic, the United States has the most significant traffic to Instagram’s website.
  • TikTok users often engage in Challenges that are popular among users. These challenges are memes that typically involve the use of a popular hashtag or song. Some trending songs and tags associated with TikTok challenges include #ButHaveYouSeen and #HowToAdult. Both songs and tags act as prompts for users who create their variation on a theme or attempt dance moves.
  • TikTok is becoming popular among Americans because it makes it easy for anyone to become a content creator (this gives TikTok a significant advantage over other platforms). 83% of TikTok users are content creators (they have created and posted a video on TikTok).


  • Americans often use Snapchat on mobile devices. 56.4% of individuals using mobile devices in the United States use Snapchat.
  • One in three users of Instagram has purchased via the platform on mobile. 70% of Instagram users are more likely to make a purchase using a mobile device than non-users.
  • TikTok has both mobile and desktop users spread across the United States.

Duration of Daily or Monthly Usage

  • Going by average user behavior, TikTok users spend about 52 minutes daily on the app.
  • Instagram users spend an average of 53 minutes every day on the platform.
  • TikTok users in the United States spend 498.09 minutes every month on the app. Instagram users spend 202.95 minutes, while Snapchat users spend 199.95 minutes every month on the apps, respectively.

Frequency of Usage

  • 63% of individuals using Instagram login on the platform at least once every day.
  • An average active user on Snapchat opens his or her camera over 20 times every day. 49% of Snapchat users use the platform’s app multiple times a day.


  • Snapchat users primarily follow their friends, celebrities, and publishers, while TikTok users mainly follow content creators, celebrities, and brands.
  • Americans often follow celebrities and brands on Instagram. Some Instagram accounts with the most significant number of followers belong to American stars (like Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian-West, Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, Dwayne Douglas Johnson, among other celebrities). American brands (like Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, and other American brands) also have some of the most significant followers on Instagram.

Popular Features

  • Snapchat users often use the platform for text and video chat, video and image capture, story creation, camera filtering, and lightweight editing. Other features accessed by Snapchat users are AR “Lenses,” and Discover tab (Snapchat’s native content which covers user interests and information on subscriptions), and Snap Maps.
  • TikTok users often use the platform to implement video capture and filter effects. They often use its robust editing tools, create prompts (reactions, hashtag challenges), and utilize TikTok’s sound library and “For You” page (this page allows them to access TikTok’s algorithm-based discovery feed). The most popular effect on TikTok is face zoom
  • One of the most utilized features on Instagram is hashtags. An average post on Instagram contains 10.7 hashtags. Engagement with the Instagram audience decreases when posts have six or more hashtags. Experts suggest the use of five or fewer hashtags per Instagram post for optimal user engagement.
  • One popular hashtag among Instagram users is #love. The hashtag usage on Instagram occurs more than two million times. Although it resonates among viewers, a post could get drowned out by the two million posts using the same hashtag.
  • The #photography, #instagood, #fashion, and #art hashtags are among the next four most resonating (popular) Instagram hashtags. Between February 2018 and February 2019, the number of Instagram influencers that used the #ad hashtag increased by 133%.
  • Instagram recently (in August 2016) launched Instagram stories. “Instagram stories” is a game-changing feature that allows users to take photos or videos that disappear after 24-hours. After launching the feature, people shared way more on Instagram. About 500 million Instagram users utilize Instagram Stories daily, and one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories originate from business organizations.
  • One of Snapchat’s most prominent feature is streaks (known as Snapstreak). Snapchat users create Snapstreaks when they create and exchange at least one snap daily for consecutive days.
  • The Snapstreak feature encourages users to continually develop “snaps,” boosting engagement, Snapchat user interaction, and retention. The longest Snapstreak has 1,756 “snaps.”
  • Lenses are also trendy among Snapchat users. One in every three Snaps sent by users is created using a lens. Besides having fun in creating lenses, Snapchat users are also enjoying seeing them. The top-performing lenses on Snapchat have received billions of views.
  • Snapchat lenses were trendy during the recent coronavirus lockdown. The company reveals that the download of Snap Camera downloads (the desktop app which allows users to access lenses for their video conference calls) increased 30 times during the lockdown period.
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