Platform-wide Perspectives

Using Infegy Starscape to monitor entire platforms like TikTok and Instagram

Henry Chapman, Research and Insights Analyst

Social listening to monitor entire social platforms

Within the social media analytics space, there's a lot of differentiation (and tools) between "social listening" and "brand monitoring." Analysts typically turn to brand monitoring tools when tracking owned content (i.e., a Coca-Cola analyst tracking how well their most recent campaign performed). At the same time, researchers use social listening tools if they want to find trends in an audience or industry (i.e., a brand strategist trying to figure out how 24-year-olds think about soda).

Today, we show you a new use case - using our new product, Infegy Starscape, to monitor an entire platform simultaneously. Companies typically can't do this because of the massive infrastructure requirements to review a platform in total. They rely on targeted queries and sampled posts to give you an "illusion" of listening to your requested audience.

Infegy Starscape does things differently. We'll look at a dataset with an enormous size (1.52 billion posts across TikTok and Instagram) to show you how the conversation and audience on TikTok are inherently different from Instagram.

Figure 1: TikTok platform-wide volume metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.
Figure 2: Instagram platform-wide volume metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.

This type of platform-level understanding is unique within social listening (and social media space in general). Platforms loathe providing usage numbers themselves lest they show declining usage, which translates to poor stock performance. By relying on third-party datasets like Infegy’s, you can gain data-driven insights into how people themselves are using social media platforms: this allows you to make advertising purchasing decisions, instead of blindly dumping money into Meta or TikTok ads.

Comparing engagement across platforms

First, we'll look at how users engage with content across platforms. Engagement is a crucial metric for any advertising agency or brand strategist who wants to see content resonate with an audience. Audiences show their emotion by liking, sharing, or commenting on content pieces.

Our comparison set is from the last six months(n = 1.5 billion posts), we conclude that Instagram and TikTok have disparate average engagement metrics. Instagram posts have almost twice the average number of likes and many more average numbers of comments per post than TikTok videos. We explain this via Instagram's larger Influence average. Lower influence scores are often independent authors posting to personal pages, while high influence scores are often major news outlets with a large audience and increased connectivity.

Next, we'll take a look at the topics themselves that are rising to the top of the pile on both platforms. Content from Bangladesh and Nepal dominate TikTok's top topics, even with an English filter applied. These types of wacky topic distributions sometimes happen on social networks. For example, in Twitter's early days, Brazilian Justin Bieber fans often took over the trending topics pages. Instagram, on the other hand, has a much more diverse topic set and is better for an ad buy.

Image 3 - TikTok Engagement
Figure 3: TikTok platform-wide engagement metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.
Image 4 - Instagram Engagement
Figure 4: Instagram platform-wide engagement metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.

These disparate scores, engagement metrics, and content show that if you're looking for smaller communities, TikTok is your best bet. On the other hand, if you're looking for a broader reach, Instagram could be the better platform to invest your ad budget.

Comparing audiences across platforms

Now that we've looked at how audiences engage with content let's look at who is specifically engaging. Here, we'll use Infegy Starscape to build an audience analysis to look at the baseline TikTok and Instagram users. Our results were surprising.

Image 5 - TikTok Audience
Figure 5: TikTok platform-wide engagement metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.
Image 6 - Instagram Audience
Figure 6: Instagram platform-wide engagement metrics; (June 2023 through October 2023); Infegy Starscape data.

First, let's look at age. Our age histogram followed the stereotype - TikTok's audience tended to be much younger, on average, than Instagram's. This discrepancy makes sense - TikTok is a younger, more video-centric platform that early twenties people tend to flock to (Snapchat is another example of a more video-centric platform).

Finally, let's take a look at source interests. Interests are the most valuable audience-building insight we offer. We generate these by looking at the entire post history of every account that we've collected on the platform, running content analysis on the types of content that they've posted, and aggregating those results. Within these aggregated source interests, we see some similarities but exciting differences. Fashion tends to rank higher on Instagram versus TikTok. On the other hand, TikTok tends to be a place for more pop culture. You can use these insights to ensure your content is going to the right place to connect with the correct audience.

Takeaways for your brand

The distinction between "social listening" and "brand monitoring" has been a defining factor for analysts and researchers. Using Infegy Starscape as a revolutionary tool, Infegy can simultaneously monitor entire platforms, TikTok and Instagram. Departing from the conventional limitations of targeted queries and sampled posts, we present a vast dataset of 1.52 billion posts, shedding light on the intrinsic differences between the conversations and audiences on these platforms. The discernible differences in engagement metrics, content themes, and audience demographics signal distinct brand opportunities. TikTok is a hub for smaller, niche communities, and Instagram is a platform for broader reach. These insights empower advertisers and brand strategists to effectively tailor content and advertising approaches, ensuring they resonate with the intended audience.

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