Knowing Your Audience: How to Attract Viewers for Live Video on YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok

6 min read

Social media and video have virtually become synonymous. In the beginning of 2023, YouTube became the second most popular social network, after Facebook, with over 2.5 million monthly active users. YouTube’s popularity makes it clear: people want to consume more video. 

The introduction of new platforms and features that promote video content has made it much easier for brands to provide consumers with their daily dose of video. TikTok and Instagram Reels are two notable emerging channels.

Diverse social media platforms appeal to different audiences in the same way that different restaurants do, variety. Here are the types of audiences that three of the biggest social media video channels— TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube — attract, and what yields the most success with each platform.


TikTok is the social media video wunderkind. It has proven that there’s a place for short-form vertical video content and that often all that’s needed is a bite-sized clip.

It also supports online selling with 58% of users being high-intent shoppers, making it a popular tool for brands looking to explore social commerce. Brands can use TikTok selling by creating a business account and using the TikTok Shopping feature.

Who Watches TikTok?

TikTok is most popular among young female users. Nearly 40% of the platform’s global audience are women between the ages of 18 and 34 years. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 years make up about a third of TikTok’s global audience.

Another key takeaway is that the older you are, the less likely you are to use TikTok. 

According to Statista, here’s how TikTok’s global audience breaks down in age and gender as of the beginning of 2023:

  • 21.5% are women aged 18 to 24 
  • 17.4% are men aged 18 to 24
  • 17.3% are women between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 15.1% are men between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 8.2% are women between the ages of 35 and 44 
  • 7.4% are men between the ages of 35 and 44 

TikTok Best Practices

  • Most of the content shared on TikTok is informal. To fit in with its style, you can experiment with its various filters and effects to match your live selling audience.  
  • Video challenges and trends are extremely popular on TikTok. Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest video crazes and from time to time, join the fun. 
  • User-friendliness is also key. Use the closed or auto-generated captions feature to ensure your content is accessible to all. TikTok users value brands that embrace diversity and inclusiveness in their marketing.
  • TikTok offers a massive library with music and self-made sounds. Use this feature to your advantage by incorporating some of the more popular sounds and music into your video. Remember, on TikTok, it’s all about keeping it lighthearted and fun.

Instagram Reels

There’s not much difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok, at least according to their Gen Z users. According to data shared by Marketing Brew, a massive 87% of Gen Z TikTok users feel that Instagram Reels and TikTok are basically the same thing. TikTok and Instagram Reels both allow users to create short-form vertical videos, with Instagram emphasizing visual aesthetics even more.

Who Watches Instagram Reels?

It might come as a surprise, but according to data shared by Meta, 54.7% of the Instagram Reels ad audience is male. Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels is also the most popular among users between the ages of 18 and 24. However, users in their late 20s or early 30s make up the second biggest audience, unlike with TikTok. 

Here’s a closer look at the demographic profile of the audience on Instagram Reels:

  • 18.1% are men between the ages of 18 and 24 
  • 17.7% are men between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 13.9% are women between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 13.4% are women between the ages of 18 and 24 
  • 7.6% are men between the ages of 35 and 44 
  • 7.4% are women between the ages of 35 and 44

Social media users might feel that TikTok and Instagram are basically the same thing, but they don’t quite attract the same crowd. If your target audience or customers are mostly men or older women, your videos will most likely achieve better engagement rates if you use Instagram Reels over TikTok.

Instagram Reels Best Practices

  • Instagram Reels aren’t as casual and loud as TikTok. It has found its appeal among older social media users who are more mature and calmer. Your video content, style, and Instagram Reels strategies should reflect that. 
  • Instagram is all about visuals. All the elements should be aesthetically pleasing. Even small details like the appearance of your grid should be considered when you’re uploading your next video.
  • Compared to TikTok, content shared via Instagram Reels is more professional. This means that you should give more attention to production and editing. Make sure that where you shoot your video has enough natural light and that the background is organized.You can add backdrop components that accent your content to provide a personal touch.

YouTube Shorts

Launched globally in 2021, YouTube Shorts is the leading video sharing platform’s answer to Instagram Reels and TikTok. The feature can be accessed via the YouTube app and lets video content creators record and share short videos of up to one minute. 

What makes it such a popular platform is that it also includes a number of tools. Creators can edit the playback speed and include a track from the music library to mention only two tools. Thanks to countdown and timer tools, it’s also super user-friendly.

Who Watches YouTube Shorts?

YouTube Shorts is more popular among younger viewers, similarly to TikTok and Instagram Reels. That said, as it boasts a huge audience of people from various backgrounds and age groups your videos will be able to reach a more diverse crowd, compared to TikTok and Instagram Reels. With the right YouTube Shorts selling strategy in place, you’ll be better able to reach your ideal customers via live video regardless of industry or niche.  

The numbers reflect this. A breakdown of YouTube’s ad audience by age group and gender shows that it’s nearly equally popular among all age groups. Here’s what We Are Social’s Digital 2023 report found:

  • 11.9% are men between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 9.1% are men between the ages of 35 and 44 
  • 8.8% are women between the ages of 25 and 34 
  • 8.8% are men between the ages of 18 and 24 
  • 7.6% are women between the ages of 35 and 44 
  • 6.2% are women between the ages of 18 and 24 

If your target audience is diverse and your product appeals virtually to everyone, creating a YouTube Shorts strategies is a must. YouTube might offer you an advantage over TikTok or Instagram if you mostly target older men, but the advantage is marginal.

YouTube Shorts Best Practices

  • DIY and how-to videos are among the most popular content categories on YouTube. You can use its feature that allows you to string clips together to create exciting product demos. This way you can highlight your product’s capabilities in an entertaining way. 
  • Similar to TikTok and Instagram, it’s ideal to shoot in vertical format when you’re planning to upload it to YouTube. This will create the best user experience for mobile users. 
  • YouTube Shorts will loop. In other words, after the video ends it will automatically start from the beginning again. Keep this in mind when you’re creating your video and try to link the beginning and end of your video.

Adopt a Multichannel Live Selling Approach

YouTube appeals to virtually every demographic segment, making it a good place to start. If your product is mostly aimed at Gen Z audiences, TikTok is a must. As for Instagram, considering that 90% of users follow a business on the platform and over 80% use it to research products and services, tapping into its slightly older demographic can work in your favor too. 

Choosing between these three channels is hard, but who said that you should limit your selling to only one? Selling on more channels means more exposure, which translates to more sales and selling opportunities. So, why not?

With a tool like CommentSold, selling on multiple channels comes without any extra effort. You can use it to expand your target audience by selling live on TikTok and Instagram. Then, to help you drive conversions, it offers proprietary live selling features like itemized waitlists, cart countdown timers, and rewards programs. Find out more about CommentSold’s unique live selling features and how it can help you expand your audience on today’s most popular video platforms.

(Koba Molenaar: is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Influencer Marketing Hub. She has helped several SaaS companies, eCommerce companies, and web design firms enhance their social media marketing efforts.)

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