TikTok and YouTube are the dominant platforms for videos and social media, but which tool is better in marketing?

While YouTube and TikTok both operate in the visual medium of videos, they are different and have different marketing uses. While some marketing plans are better suited for one, others work better on the other.


Why Should I Choose One Platform?

You could easily say, “I’ll just do both.” That would be a mistake.

Content creation as a whole is an immense time suck. It’s challenging, and if you’re just starting, it is hard enough to focus on any one social media platform, let alone two.

Most marketing experts will tell you to choose one social media platform to focus on first. Whichever it is, it doesn’t matter. Choose one and make it great.

Once you establish that social media platform, you can start building on another social media platform.


Which is Better, YouTube or TikTok?

But how do you choose which one to start first? Below, I’ll look at some of the things you should consider when deciding between YouTube and TikTok.


Monthly Active Users

Millions of people log into TikTok and YouTube every day, but who has the most views?

According to Hootsuite, TikTok has over a billion active monthly users worldwide, and that number is growing every day. In fact, approximately 650,000 people join TikTok daily.

That growth is partly due to the fact that TikTok is playing catchup. 

YouTube is better established. Hootsuite says YouTube has more than 2.56 billion active monthly users worldwide (Source).

In other words, YouTube is 2.5 times larger than TikTok.


Average Age of Users

But are those users in your target demographic?

According to Wallaroo Media, TikTok has approximately 80 million monthly active users in the United States alone. About 60% of those users are between the ages of 16-24, while 26% are between 25-44.

By comparison, the Omnicore Agency reports that 81% of U.S. adults (approximately 222 million) use YouTube. Approximately 95% of Americans between 18-29 access YouTube. The same goes for 91% of Americans between the ages of 30-49.

Amazingly, nearly half the people 65 and older in the United States access YouTube.

Again, TikTok is popular, but it’s still playing catchup to YouTube.


Length of Videos

One of the things that used to make the sites different was the length of videos, but in recent years, the two sites have moved toward one another. TikTok appears to be trying to be more like YouTube, and YouTube is trying to become more like TikTok.

When TikTok launched, the maximum video length was just 15 seconds. As the company grew, the maximum video length jumped to 60 seconds and then 3 minutes. Today, the company allows users to post videos up to 10 minutes long.

On the other side, YouTube has always allowed users to post longer videos. Unverified users can currently post videos up to 15 minutes in length. Verified users can post videos as long as they like.

As TikTok gained a following, YouTube decided to try and compete in the short video arena. It launched YouTube Shorts in mid-March of 2021. In the YouTube Shorts format, the maximum length of a video is 60 seconds.


Live Video on YouTube and TikTok

Both platforms allow you to stream live video, but how long you can stream differs.

TikTok’s maximum live stream time is 60 minutes, though the platform recommends that you don’t go longer than 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, YouTube has no ceiling on how long you can live stream.

However, the site will only store the first 12 hours of the live stream and convert it to video. If you go beyond the 12 hours, the rest of the live stream is lost.


How Do You Make Money on TikTok?

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two platforms is monetization. How do you make money?

According to Nerd Wallet, there are three ways to make money on TikTok. You can use it to sell your products. You can get sponsorships for your videos. Or, you can apply to the Creator Fund.

TikTok users must have at least 10,000 followers and receive 100,000 video views in the last 30 days to join the Creator Fund.

Think of the Creator Fund as the pool of money that TikTok earns from advertising. Each creator receives a portion of that pool depending on how large their following is.

The only problem with the Creator Fund is that TikTok’s advertising is in its infant stage. It does not generate as much revenue from ads as YouTube does, so the cut for TikTok creators is smaller.


How Do You Make Money on YouTube?

Meanwhile, making money on YouTube is a little more certain. Like TikTok, you can use the site to sell your products or get sponsorships.

The big difference is how you can make money off of advertising. YouTube has established its advertising plan, so it makes more money from advertising than TikTok. That money gets shared with the YouTube creators.

According to the site, you can join the YouTube Partner Program if you have more than 4,000 public watch hours in the last 12 months and more than 1,000 subscribers.

Once you join, you receive advertising revenue for every ad watched during one of your videos.



Overall, YouTube has a slight edge in most categories because it’s a more established platform. It’s had time to build up its base of users and perfect its processes.

That said, TikTok may be advantageous to marketers if your target demographic skews to the younger generations who have adopted the platform. Think Gen Z and Millennials.

The good news for all marketers is there is no wrong answer. Many users overlap, which means they watch both platforms daily.

For some great SEO Tips for YouTube, check out this previous post.


Written by Erika Towne