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Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have taken over the social media world as we are so used to consuming content from it. Instagram stories and images, digital billboards, Facebook and YouTube videos with subtitles have consumed people around the world. Today we will touch on Tik Tok and Instagram specifically, and account for their rise to fame, thanks to audio marketing.

The Rising Popularity Of TikTok

In the social media world, TikTok stands out from the rest by being a musical social media platform. It has been downloaded 2 billion times globally, dominating the younger audience aged 24 and below.

Started as a music/dance app, audio had been core to Tik Tok’s development and this arguably the key difference between the social media platforms in their origins. The innovative use of audio is one of the unique factors that contribute to Tiktok’s success. Scrolling content without sound is the default mode for Facebook and Instagram’s users. But Tiktok does it the opposite way. It is 100% sound on, well at least – without sound, Tik Tok just isn’t as powerful. On TikTok, audio is central to the experience and capturing additional access point to users’ attention. This focus on audio makes TikTok’s content to stand out and resonate with a broader range of audiences, resulting in higher levels of emotional engagement.

TikTok invites users to be completely captivated for a few seconds at a time instead of doing several things at once. Furthermore, while the memes associated with Facebook and Instagram lies in the visuals, it’s in the sounds to which TikTok gives its user unparalleled access.

A report by research agency Neuro-Insight found that savvy uses of sound highlight and reinforce parts of a message. A pause in a soundtrack can create tension, which makes the brain more receptive to what follows, while music which rises to a crescendo can increase the brains’ emotional response and build anticipation.

Why Tik Tok? | Audio Marketing As A Branding Strategy

Now you might ask why is TikTok so popular then? Well, if you think about it, the popularity of the Tiktok should come as no surprise. After all, traditional social platforms were designed for discrete surfing. The default setting on social media is one without sound. More often than not, social media users will have to manually click on content for the audio clips.

Therefore, the focus of sound on Tik Tok has differentiated it from its competitors. The power of audio cannot be trivialised.

Although we are so used to visual content – be it in the written or video form, audio is still important in content consumption and establishing a brand’s presence. Audio marketing has been used by some brands in the past. We are familiar with McDonald’s logo and products. The gold arches might have already surfaced in your mind. The taste of the burgers and fries is lingering on your taste bud. What about sound? How does McDonald’s sound like? Does a familiar jingle start to play in your mind?

Audio has actually been an important puzzle in contributing to a strong branding strategy. Research by agency Neuro-Insight concludes that “brands that overlook sound as a creative tool are missing out on a crucial dimension of branding.” Sound artist Yuki Suzuki takes it even further, insisting that “sound in branding leaves a strong impression and really sticks to your brain – it’s stronger than visuals even.”

The Rise Of Audio Platform & Content

You might have seen or heard about podcasts and search functions that are voice-activated. Over the years, these content forms have seen an increase in usage. Recently, Google has also announced a new range of audio advertising options in order to help businesses tap into the rising consumption of podcasts, digital radio and other digital audio forms.

The image below shows the percentage of people listening to podcasts and using voice search in Singapore.

instagram reels

The reason why audio marketing is so effective is that it’s connected in the same way the way sounds directly impact our reactions. The emotional connection to sound is something that marketers cannot ignore.

Brands are finding that the use of sound can not only shape experience, but it can also shape behaviour. Customer experience is enhanced by sound as sound gives rise to feelings of relaxation. But, they can also drive people away.

More importantly, audio helps to strengthen brand recall and create a memorable identity. People remember signature music or tones. Sound is key to memory recall. Therefore, brands that place importance on unique audio branding have a greater chance of creating a memorable identity.

What Is Instagram Reels?

Now that we have talked about the rise of Tik Tok and the importance of audio. Let us look at Instagram’s newest feature, Instagram reels, that could possibly emulate TikTok’s audio marketing strategy. It is similar to TikTok, allowing users to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools.

differences between Tiktok and Instagram reelsInstagram Reels’ Features

According to Instagram, these are the editing tools that we can expect to find:

  1. Audio: Search for a song from the Instagram music library. You can also use your own original audio by simply recording a reel with it.
  2. AR Effects: Select one of the many effects in their effect gallery, created both by Instagram and creators all over the world.
  3. Timer and Countdown: Set the timer to record any of your clips hands-free.
  4. Align: Line up objects from your previous clip before recording your next to help create seamless transitions for moments like outfit changes or adding new friends into your reel.
  5. SpeedChoose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected.

The differences between Tiktok and Instagram Reels

There are 3 differences during this point of writing.

  1. The first difference is the time limit. TikTok allows users to record up to 60 seconds while Instagram Reels are limited to 15 seconds. While avid Instagram users are used to 15 seconds of stories content, the additional 45 seconds that TikTok offers would be an added bonus to creative content.
  2. The second difference is the choice of music. As mentioned, audio and music is a big factor to TikTok’s success. On the other hand, Instagram has no news about the choice of music. However, it has confirmed that it will be launching licensed music soon.
  3. The third difference would be the integration of different placements. Marketers are able to show organic or branded content ads on both platforms. And this is where Instagram will have the advantage over TikTok because of its offerings. Our guess is that the content created on Instagram Reels will be able to seamlessly repurpose on the different ad placement the platform has to offer. The placements include Facebook feed, Facebook Stories, Instagram feed, Stories, IGTV, and even for the Instagram shop. This would make more sense to marketers in terms of ROI and the time spent on creating the content.

How Can Instagram Stand Against TikTok?

Even though the Instagram Reel function is new to the market, it certainly can tap on its active millions-strong user base who might find TikTok unfamiliar or have completely resisted TikTok. Brands can access to this group of users immediately who are already consuming Instagram content on a daily basis.

In addition, many brands already have longstanding relationships and strategies on Instagram, and Instagram Reels could create opportunities for new and creative forms of campaigns. Hence, brands can partner with creators to reach a new kind of audience: those who prefer short, engaging videos over other forms of content.

Usually, Instagram will also put more emphasis on new features with increased reach and engagement. This early adoption would incentivise brands to partner with creators on Instagram Reels right away, maximising the ROI.

Content Creators’ Thoughts On TikTok & Instagram Reels

According to the article published on, many content creators are willing to give Instagram Reels a try. They understand the fact that a social media platform will come and go. Hence, they should not “put all their eggs in one basket”. Content creators have put in the effort and time to command that level of following. It is only wise to diversify the followings to other platforms while it is still available.

Be it TikTok or Instagram Reels, content creators focus on understanding the platforms’ requirement and make relevant content that works. Different platforms will command a different group of users, and it is necessary to create the right content for each of the platform.


Now that you have understood the importance of audio marketing, would you be trying it out? We are waiting eagerly for its launch in Singapore. If you are interested to know more about how you can create content on Instagram and Tiktok, let us know here!