Why TikTok hit #1 in no time at all.

why is tiktok so popular?

We compared 3 apps, here’s what happened.

TikTok is in the news.

On repeat. Like a 90s song that you just can’t get out of your head, the media can’t stop talking about this app. So, other than the involvement of the President, and the press that’s now surrounding the China-born TikTok—what makes this app so popular—and how can you leverage it?

Let’s dig into the data. 

We looked at three apps: Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. All are popular. Each for their own reasons. So, we asked the nation’s largest, highest-rated consumer panel: Surveys On The Go® to rate each app for our research efforts. Let’s take a look at what they had to say. 

Instagram is a brand favorite.

This is where your consumers want to connect. 

Why? Well, 58% say Instagram is the best place to check in with their favorite brands. When given the choice, consumers prefer to connect with you on Instagram. See their feedback below.

Which app is best at connecting you to your favorite brands?

That connection to your brand is what makes them more likely to buy from you. In fact, 36% say they’re more likely to buy from an ad on Instagram. So, if you’re looking to advertise your brand, start with Instagram. It’s where you’ll get the best engagement. And a strong connection equals a solid ROI.

They’re ready to hear from you. 80% of Instagram users are on the app every single day. They use Instagram to engage with friends, which 54% say is the main reason they’re so active on the app. Users like to stay in touch. Connect with them the way they want you to and you’ll capture the 54% buying on Instagram right now.1

Snapchat is social.

They don’t call it social media for nothing.

When it comes to Snapchat, 61% use it because their friends are on the app. That’s quite a bit higher than Instagram—8% more to be exact. So, for making friendly connections, Snapchat’s where it’s at. The only drawback is your ad fund. With only 18% likely to buy from you based on an ad in Snapchat, you may be wasting precious funds on this channel. 

But, TikTok’s in the lead.

Okay, so here’s why TikTok is so popular.

To start with, 87% of its users admit to using the app frequently. That means they see the app as an important part of their day, or week. But, there’s more to it than that. When we dug into the data, we found three solid reasons why TikTok takes out the competition. And here they are.

#1: It’s fun to use.

Yup, 74% say it’s just fun to use. 

So, while they may have the lowest numbers for in-app use—72% compared to Instagram (80%) and Snapchat (73%)—that’s sure not holding back users. TikTok’s got entertaining on lockdown. And, with people stuck at home, and sick of standard social media2…entertainment sounds nice right about now.

#2: It’s a time suck.

That’s actually a good thing, in this case.

Most TikTok users are looking for an app to keep their minds occupied. They’ve got time on their hands and this app promises to take if off. In fact, when we asked the people who didn’t use TikTok all that often, why they chose not to, 29% said they just didn’t have the time. That means the consumers who are using TikTok don’t mind the time it takes; they welcome it.

So, how much time is spent on TikTok?

Well, 72% spend 30 or more minutes on the app—compared to Instagram (61%) and Snapchat (52%). But, what may be most surprising, is that TikTok doubles both Instagram and Snapchat for the number of people who spend more than two hours on the app. It’s 17% with TikTok, versus 9% and 8%, with Instagram and Snapchat.

This app gets in deep with engagement. Which is great for advertisers, because people are willing to spend—34% say they’ll buy from an ad on TikTok. Sure, that’s less than Instagram’s 35%, but not much less. And talk about a captive audience… you’re pretty committed to an app at more than two hours’ screen time.

#3: It’s just easy.

So, what about Reels?

You may be curious about Instagram’s effort to take over TikTok with Reels. Is it working? No. For starters, it’s a different audience. Tik Tok users want entertainment and Instagrammers want connection: 42% aren’t likely to use Instagram for its Reels function. They’re on Instagram for their friends. Not to be entertained for hours.

But, here’s the real kicker: 82% prefer TikTok to Instagram Reels.

You said you prefer TikTok to Instagram Reels what's the main reason?


You guessed it, 44% say TikTok’s easier to use.

That’s quite a strong number given there were five options to choose from, as you can see. There’s certainly something to be said for simplicity.

So, now what?

That’s the beauty in research…applying the data.

Now that you have insights, you can adjust your social media strategy accordingly. If you’re spending a lot on Snapchat, consider dialing it back and run test campaigns on Instagram or TikTok. And, if you’re curious about how to best allocate those funds, run a social ad test. It’s worth the time to research—45% say they spend more money with brands who are on social media.

We help the biggest brands to gain app + web insights so they can make adjustments when they need to. Reach your own target audience to find out what they want. Then use quick, accurate market research to create confidence in every single ad choice.

Need help? Send us an email.


  1. https://mfour.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Coronavirus-infographic-wave-6-part-1.pdf 
  2. https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/covid-fatigue-is-hitting-hard-fighting-it-is-hard-too-says-uc-davis-health-psychologist/2020/07 

By Sydney Lewis

Reviewed by Urielle Corcuera

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