TikTok vs. YouTube: The Video Platform Showdown

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There’s no doubt video marketing is a proven winner. Marketing teams in every industry know that creating the right video content for the right platform can substantially improve brand awareness and drive conversions. But with limited time, budget and resources, most marketers have to prioritize content creation.

If you’re choosing between a robust TikTok presence and jumping into YouTube with both feet, it’s worth taking a big step back before making a move.

YouTube and TikTok Go Head-to-Head

Understanding the differences between TikTok and YouTube will help you decide where to direct your efforts. Let’s take a quick look at our contenders, shall we?

TikTok – The New Kid on the Block

Born in 2017 in the motherboards of Chinese tech giant ByteDance, TikTok exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and now has more than 1 billion monthly active users. It’s the fifth-largest social media platform in the world and built its following with short, quippy and humorous content.

The app grew at an astronomical rate. TikTok had 1 million users within a year of launch and became the fastest-growing platform of all time when it flew past the 1 billion user mark in less than 4 years.

Read More: 2023 Social Media Trends You Can’t Ignore

YouTube – The Wily Video Veteran

YouTube is a thriving survivor. The video-sharing behemoth was born around the same time as Myspace and predates Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other social apps that have come and gone since 2005. With 2.1 billion monthly active users, YouTube is more than twice the size of TikTok, making it the second-largest social media platform behind Facebook.

It’s worth noting that YouTube is also the second-largest search engine globally and taps into Google’s massive ad network.

TikTok vs. YouTube by the Numbers

Choosing between these platforms is about finding the right fit. From demographics to formats to style, know what you’re getting into.


Brands rely on video marketing to position their content in front of the right people. So, who’s using each platform?

  • TikTok’s U.S. audience is young. About 50% of monthly active users (MAU) are between 18 and 24 years old, with a further 17.7% 12-17.
  • YouTube’s demographics are even more focused, although it never gets the same headlines as TikTok’s youthful skew. 95% of YouTubers are aged 18-29, including the (in)famous Millennial generation.

Average Time on Platform

Social platforms get plenty of time – more than we’d like to admit. Average daily usage varies seasonally and by demographic, but both platforms get plenty of quality time with users.

  • TikTok users spend an average of 45.8 minutes per day on the platform.
  • YouTube users spend an average of 45.6 minutes per day on the platform.

It couldn’t get any more identical, could it?

Traffic (Paid and Organic)

TikTok has more than a billion users and provides substantial brand exposure – but YouTube is in a different league.

  • TikTok generates about 318.2 million impressions per day. Paid advertisers can tap into about 643,600 impressions per day – but that metric changes based on your ad parameters.
  • YouTube’s integration with Google search gives creators a shot at 626 billion organic impressions. It’s just as valuable for paid media impressions, helping marketers access more than 65.1 million daily impressions worldwide.

Video Lengths

TikTok and YouTube lend themselves to different types of content, especially the length of clips and videos.

  • The average TikTok video is between 15 and 60 seconds.
  • YouTube videos tend to be much longer, around 11.7 minutes.

Types of Content

As you’d expect, each platform caters to specific niches and trends. You can post just about anything on TikTok and YouTube, but the top-performing videos tend to fit into a few categories.

TikTok’s bread and butter videos:

  • Dance/trends
  • Humor
  • Make-up and fashion
  • First-person storytelling/explanations
  • In-depth product reviews
  • DIY and how-to videos
  • Podcasts and news
  • Sports highlights and discussion
  • Live events

What Are YouTube Shorts?

In 2021 and 2022, nearly every social media platform rushed to create its own version of TikTok. Instagram went big on Reels, while YouTube rolled out YouTube Shorts.

Like TikTok and Reels, YouTube Shorts use a vertical aspect ratio (9:16 if you’re taking notes) and are meant to be short, quippy and entertaining. They tend to be bite-sized versions of long-form videos; some even link to the longer video so users can easily access the full-length version.

Can I Upload TikTok Videos on YouTube Shorts?

Absolutely! TikTok’s meteoric growth is partly due to its willingness to let users share content across most social platforms, including YouTube. You can share directly from within the app, plus post to Reels and other platforms as well. 

Finding the Right Fit for Your Brand

In the showdown between TikTok and YouTube, the winner is the platform that best suits your goals and demographics, and those may change as your organization grows. You don’t have to guess; you can give both platforms a shot.

Like any marketing effort, start with a plan and test. Measure the results on-platform and track the time it takes your team to create and implement content – if you’re finding success but lack the bandwidth, reach out to a digital marketing agency with a proven track record on YouTube and TikTok.

All Eyes on You (With a Little Help from Us)

Position your brand in front of the right audience with engaging, informative and entertaining content designed for the platform that works for you. We’ll help you prioritize, ideate and create videos that support your long-term success, one clip at a time. Get in touch or call 231-922-9977 today to get started.

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