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By Sara Huffman

Savvy business owners know that to best reach potential customers, they need to create content on the social media platforms where those customers are most likely to be. So, when a buzzy new social media platform becomes popular, seemingly overnight (like TikTok), or an older platform gets a breath of fresh air (like Snapchat), business owners may feel compelled to adopt those platforms or risk the potential of losing out on reaching new customers.

After all, as of February 2021, it’s estimated that TikTok had an average of 1.1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) monthly active users worldwide, and Snapchat had over 500 million.

All those users could potentially turn into new customers for your business. But TikTok and Snapchat are not the same, and both require some skill and time commitment.

Here’s how to determine which platform is right for your business, which one might not be, or whether you need to avoid both of them.


According to recent data from Statista, 22.4 percent of all U.S. TikTok users are between 20-29, and 25 percent are aged 10-19. As such, if your business is going after the notoriously hard-to-market-to teen and young adult set, you’ll want to consider starting an account.

But first, you must ask yourself: Is my product or service easily promoted via video? Am I willing to let my hair down a little, have fun, be experimental, and laugh at myself? Videos that do well on TikTok tend to be entertaining, irreverent, educational (but not in a boring way), or creative. Or they’re a mix of all those attributes. To make content that gets noticed on TikTok, you can’t just upload a still picture and call it a day – you must think like a professional content creator.

Also, do you have the time to learn TikTok’s unique (and sometimes frustrating) video editing functions? For many new users, there’s an initial learning curve that can be steep.

What if you’re going after Millennials? Statista also reports that 21.7 percent of TikTok users are between the ages of 30-39. And that number is growing every day, along with the numbers of Gen Xers and even Baby Boomers. (The over-40 set isn’t quite as addicted to TikTok as younger users are, but they’re slowly getting there.)

If you answered “yes” to those questions, your business is probably a great candidate for a TikTok account – and you probably could even skip using Snapchat. Unlike Snapchat, your content lives forever on TikTok, which means if users like your videos, they can go to your account and watch other TikToks you have uploaded, and they can Duet or Stitch with your older content, which helps push your reach even further.

Used wisely, you could find yourself gaining new customers from TikTok in unexpected ways. For example, last Christmas, a small antique store in Akron, Ohio, found itself with an influx of teenage customers. When shop owner Kevin Royer investigated, he discovered new fans of the shop had made some TikToks extolling the virtues of the store and all its funky merchandise. Royer told the Akron Beacon Journal, “It was a better punch than Instagram, and the interesting thing was you could see the results.”


Launched in 2011, Snapchat is still a sentimental favorite among younger Millennials (people ages 25 to 34) who were early adopters of the app and never really let go.

While younger Millennials are still very active on Snapchat, Gen Z is fast becoming fans of the app. Snapchat reaches 75% of Millennials and Gen Z, and 34% of U.S. teens say Snapchat is their “preferred social platform.” This means if the customer base you’re going after is 35 and younger, Snapchat is probably a good place to find them.

Said to be inspired by “real-life communication,” posts on Snapchat disappear after a short amount of time (from a few seconds to 24 hours, based on what the user chooses), which makes for a much more informal, casual, fun, and often silly presence on the platform. This means your content doesn’t have to be overly produced or finely polished. Of course, you should aim to post creative content, but Snapchat is a place where you can get away with less professional-looking photos and graphics.

Snapchat also works a lot like Instagram Stories (where do you think Instagram got it from?), so if you’re familiar with that platform, Snapchat should be easy to use.

One thing Snapchat has over TikTok is in the realm of advertising.  Snapchat makes it easy for businesses to buy ads and allows for in-app purchases (unlike TikTok, which is still experimenting with advertising). According to Hootsuite, Snapchat users are 60 percent more likely to make an impulse purchase while using the app.

This is likely due to Snapchat’s ephemeral style, where users know content can disappear within seconds, so they must act quickly.

The perks for business owners are likely to keep growing on Snapchat, too. According to Finances Online, “[I]t is noteworthy that Snapchat marketing trends are leaning toward the expansion of the platform where businesses can thrive. The company has partnered with big brands like Ralph Lauren, the New York Times, and NYX Professional Makeup to launch A.R. advertising experiences targeted at their markets (Snap Inc., 2021), especially with the growing online shopping market due to COVID-19.”

So, like TikTok, if your product or service is easily promotable via video and you’re aiming to capture a customer base that’s 35 years old and younger, Snapchat is probably a good place to create content. Just be prepared to make looser, less polished content, and don’t be afraid to take creative risks.

Pro Tip: If you’re uncomfortable creating this kind of “loose, casual” content on either TikTok or Snapchat, investigate partnering with local influencers who are. Even if you hope to sell your product or service nationwide, see if there is a TikTok or Snapchat account in your area that creates quality content about local attractions and businesses (and has a lot of followers, of course). Partnering with local influencers can offer business exposure to people in your city and potentially outside of it, if those influencers’ content goes viral.

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