Instagram vs TikTok vs Snapchat vs YouTube: which platform is for you?

September 6, 2021
Kyra Goodman

Not sure where you should be posting your amazing social video content? Here's how to choose the best channel for your brand.

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably logged into a social media platform recently. You might have noticed that the amount of video content has increased significantly over the past few years. This is because video content typically performs best with most social media algorithms - it captures viewers’ attention for longer and keeps them on the apps. And with so many mobile-first apps, you can create video content cheaply and easily using nothing but your phone. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. As video continues to evolve as the primary storytelling medium for brands and creators, more and more traffic is coming from social video platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. These platforms are all conceptually similar in that they allow users some video capabilities. But the strength of each platform lies in their differences. This article is here to help you decide which platform should be home to your video content. We break down each platform to help you understand where your content will thrive.

What is video marketing?

Video marketing is a strategy designed to create, curate, and utilize video to sell your products or services to your target audience. Video content keeps your audience engaged with your brand in a way that’s visually appealing and easy to digest. Not only does video content typically get more engagement than other content types, but it also tends to stick around for longer. For example, a TikTok video can crop up in users’ For You Pages long after it’s published, or a YouTube video could remain on your channel for years to come. Video content is also great for making sales. This is because there’s value in showing your audience how great your product or service is rather than telling. The numbers don’t lie: 93% of marketers say they’ve landed a new customer thanks to a video on social media.

Choosing the right platform for your content

In recent years, platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been on the rise. But don’t put all your eggs in one basket just yet. HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report shows that when consumers were asked which social media platform they most commonly watched videos on, 35% of respondents said YouTube.

hubspot stats on which platform is used most regularly for video viewing

Another surprising finding from the report was that 20% of respondents primarily use TikTok for video viewing. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you should shift your entire strategy to TikTok, it does show that the platform has a promising future for video marketers. Though some social media platforms may work better than others, we strongly suggest that you create video content that is organic to different networks. This is the best way to extend your reach and target your customers across platforms.

Pro-tip: you can use Sked Social’s social media scheduler to schedule video content to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, & more!

Go where your audience is

No matter where you choose to focus your digital marketing strategy, make sure you’re following your audience. After all, your customers should be at the heart of everything you do. Ultimately, you’re creating content for them, so if they aren’t using a particular platform, don’t waste your time creating content there. Research the demographics of each platform. While demographics shouldn’t completely inform your choice, it helps to familiarize yourself with the major demographics for each platform (more on this below!). If your target customer is nowhere to be found, you might want to consider a different platform. As with any social media strategy, some content will perform better on some platforms than others. If your brand is more consumer-facing, it might perform better on YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok’s large consumer audiences. Not sure which platform to choose? Test out different video formats to see what resonates with your audience.

Choosing the right platform for your social media video marketing

Check out our detailed breakdown of which platform should be home to your social media video marketing:

You should try Instagram if…

You’re looking for somewhere to house several different types of video content along with other forms of content like photos and carousels. With over 1 billion users, there’s no denying that Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there. When it comes to content, Instagram is the jack of all trades. It offers Instagram stories, Reels, IGTVs, and lets you livestream to your audience directly using Instagram Live. The ability to create different types of content gives you an edge since all your content can live in one place. If your business has an ecommerce component, Instagram also has a ton of eCommerce features that allow users to shop your video content.

Instagram Demographics

How to make video content for Instagram

Instagram Reels

In terms of video content, Reels are king right now on Instagram. Reels allows you to create short, entertaining videos that you can share with your audience. The app has been heavily promoting them, making it one of the best growth hacks on Instagram right now.

Instagram video content

Currently, your Reels can be between 15 to 60 seconds long. There’s a series of soundbites and effects that you can choose from to make your Reel stand out. Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery. If you have a Public Account, your Reels can be shared with your followers and can be discovered by Instagram’s massive community on the Reels Explore page.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are one of the best ways to show off your brand’s personality. They offer a quick, easy way to share moments and experiences. You can add text, music, stickers and GIFs to bring them to life. As a bonus, you can now add direct links to your stories using Instagram’s new Link Stickers. In the past, Instagram has limited who can post “swipe-up” links to their stories, but with the linking stickers, anyone will be able to add links directly to their Story content.

Instagram video stickers

Image courtesy of Instagram

Instagram Live

Instagram Live allows you to interact with your audience using a live virtual broadcast. It’s a great way to connect with your audience in real-time and show off a less curated, more human side of your brand. During the broadcast, viewers can type questions or comments into a chat box that you can respond to. You can even go live with a friend or collaborator by inviting them to join your Live video. Once you’ve started your Instagram Live video, followers who have their app open will automatically receive a notification that you’ve started broadcasting. This is a great way to attract more views and keep your brand top of mind. After you’ve completed your broadcast, you can save your Live video to your camera roll, upload and share it to your Feed (for videos under 1 minute), or upload it directly to IGTV.

Image courtesy of Facebook


Instagram TV, or IGTV, is the closest thing that Instagram has to long-form video content. You can upload videos up to 15 minutes long that are created for mobile and are designed to fit users’ phone screens. IGTV is a great opportunity to reuse your popular video content from other platforms. For example, you can repurpose videos from YouTube or Facebook, as well as live-stream recordings or webinars. A great example of someone using IGTV well is entrepreneur and owner of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Gary Vee. His IGTV channel adapts existing content from his popular YouTube videos for the IGTV format.

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You should try TikTok if…

You’re looking to create bite-sized videos that will entertain, educate, or inform people with the potential to go viral. TikTok is Gen-Z’s favourite social video platform. With over 1 billion projected users worldwide, social media marketers all over the world are adding TikTok to their digital strategy. Right now, products and brands have the potential to blow up on TikTok, which is part of what makes it such an attractive platform for growing brands. Check out our full guide on how to create a winning TikTok marketing strategy for your business here.

TikTok Demographics

  • TikTok users are 55% male and 44% female. (App Ape Lab)
  • The most popular age group of TikTok is teens, with 21% male teenagers and 18% female teenagers. (Business of Apps)
  • Half of TikTok users are under the age of 34. (MarketingCharts)
  • 37% of adult TikTok users have a median income over $100,000. (MarketingCharts)

How to make video content for TikTok

Feed or ‘For You Page’ Content

TikTok has lots of sounds, effects, filters, and transitions that you can use to create awesome videos – and they all live right within the app! TikTok videos can be up to three minutes long, though most creators favour shorter form videos between 15 and 30 seconds. While some of the content is education-focused, most of it has a humorous spin or creative take on various topics.

@ byte dance's tiktok content

Creators usually find success on TikTok by a) jumping on trends and b) having a specific niche that they create content for. Participating in trends can be a great way to demonstrate your brand personality. To see what’s trending with your audience, hop onto the app and see what trends your followers are taking part in. It could be a certain sound, visual effect or another type of meme or joke. You can also check out TikTok’s Discover Page to see what’s trending. For more ideas on how to create video content for TikTok that grows your brand’s following, click here.

TikTok Live Video

Did you know that your business can go live on TikTok? Like Instagram, going live on TikTok is a great way to connect and engage with your audience in real-time. Once you have at least 1,000 TikTok followers, you automatically unlock the ability to stream live video.

@ guy who cooks TikTok content

Before you jump into TikTok Live Video, have a goal or topic in mind. For example, if you’re going live to tease a new product launch, come prepared with talking points about the product's features and share a call-to-action to tell people where they can purchase the product. Live videos are also a great opportunity to host Q&As about your business. Viewers can submit questions directly in the comments that you can answer in real-time.

You should try Snapchat if…

You want to create quick, temporary content that grabs peoples’ attention and is made for a primarily Millennial and Gen Z audience. A few years ago, Snapchat users were watching 10 billion videos per day on the platform. At the pinnacle of their success, Snapchat doubled their acquisition with innovative companies like augmented reality startup Cimagine Media, 3D & VR company Obvious Engineering, and the mobile discovery app Vurb. Soon after, Snapchat dipped a bit in popularity (thanks to the rise of platforms like TikTok). While their future didn’t seem so bright, they’ve bounced back with popular features like Stickers, Geofilters, Lenses, Snap Map, and the Discover page. Nowadays, it continues to be used as a chatting platform and works best for brands with smaller, more engaged audiences.

Snapchat Demographics

How to make video content for Snapchat


Snapchat is best known for its disappearing photos and videos, otherwise known as “snaps.” A Snap video can be up to 60 seconds long, but you can record and send as many as you like in sequence. For someone to see your snaps, they must be on your friends list. You can find friends by searching people by their username or from your phone’s contact list. You can also add users by using their specific QR code (which can be found inside the app).It’s common to see people jazz up their snaps using text, filters, or stickers. Recently, Snapchat also added music that can be easily added to your pictures and videos.

Photo courtesy of Game Revolution

Snapchat Stories

Snapchat Stories are pieces or series of content that last 24 hours. When you post a story, you can see which and how many users viewed your story. Similar to Instagram Stories, Snap Stories are a great way to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business or brand. In addition to capturing Stories in real-time, you can also upload videos from your camera roll (provided they’re under 60 seconds in length).

Snapchat Spotlight

Snapchat’s Spotlight promotes short viral videos from the Snapchat community. The videos – or Spotlight snaps – that surface in this section can be up to 60 seconds long. Like TikTok, Spotlight’s algorithm operates on similar engagement metrics – including watch time, likes and shares – to determine video reach.

Snapchat's Spotlight feature of recommended content

Image courtesy of Snapchat

You should try YouTube if…

You want to create long-form, evergreen content that provides value or education to your audience. Founded in 2005, YouTube has been around the block. But when it comes to video content, YouTube still holds the crown. It’s one of the longest-lasting social media platforms out there and is now the second-largest search engine worldwide, just after Google. Today, YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly users. You probably know of at least a few stars or influencers who got their start on YouTube. YouTubers like Smosh, PewDiePie, and Patrick Starrr have all built successful careers on the platform.

Creating a YouTube channel for your business offers a centralized platform for your video content to live. YouTube content also makes a great base for content repurposing. You can break your longer videos into several small clips, or microcontent, for Instagram and TikTok or use shorter-form video content from other apps as “teasers” for the full-length video on YouTube.

YouTube Demographics

  • 81% of US internet users aged 18-25 watch YouTube videos. (Statista)
  • 15% of YouTube's traffic comes from the U.S. (Alexa)
  • 73% of adults watch YouTube videos. (Pew Research Center)

YouTube Videos

Unlike Instagram Reels, TikTok and Snapchat, YouTube has a much longer time limit. By default, you can upload videos to YouTube that are 15 minutes in length, but if you verify your Google Account, you can upload and publish videos that are up to 12 hours long (and no more than 128 GB in size).Like TikTok, your video content can live on YouTube for long periods of time. Their algorithm recommends videos to users based on what they consume, so there’s always a chance for one of your older videos to pick up traction long after publishing. As with all social media platforms, you should create YouTube content based on your audience’s interests and demographics. For example, if you’re making content for a Gen Z audience, keep in mind that they’re more likely to seek out short-form content. If you create tutorials or longer-form educational material like courses, your videos will probably fall on the longer side.

YouTube Live

Thought it was only Instagram and TikTok that offered livestreaming options? Think again. Like Instagram, YouTube has its own livestreaming feature. Keep in mind that your account must be verified to access this feature. To get verified, your channel must have at least 100,000 subscribers, which limits the use of this feature for many. Broadcasts are typically oriented around news or sports, but you can also find live music channels, educational seminars, and film screenings.


The options for social media video marketing platforms nowadays are endless. While it can be overwhelming to decide what content should go where, the best advice we can offer you is don’t limit yourself (or your content) to a single platform.

At the end of the day, you’re creating content for your audience or ideal customer. Your audience members are likely using more than one video platform, so try out different content forms to see what works. Additionally, save time and resources by turning your longer-form video content, such as YouTube or IGTV videos, into bite-sized entertaining content for platforms like TikTok or Snapchat.

Save even more time by using a tool that allows you to schedule and automatically post your video content everywhere.

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