Which should you use: Instagram Reels vs TikTok?


Discover the distinctions between Reels vs TikTok.

Reels vs Tiktok is a relatively new battleground. Since TikTok’s success has spread from Gen Z to a wide range of age groups, Instagram has launched Reels in an attempt to reclaim the audience it lost to its competitor, which is still growing in popularity.

Now that Reels has been growing for a few months, Instagram has had time to flesh out its interface and tools to compete with or outperform TikTok. Is it close, or is it just a carbon copy of the concept? And has TikTok made any changes to combat this new competitor? All of this is covered in greater detail in our guide to the two video platforms.

More Instagram tips and tricks can be found in our guides on how to change the font in your Instagram bio and how to make money on Instagram. Also see our TikTok beginner’s guide and how to use green screen on TikTok.

1. Reels vs TikTok: Video length

Although TikTok and Reels are both based on the same concept, the 30 second limit on Reels gives it a very different premise. It restricts users to short, simple messages and how-tos, whereas TikTok’s 60-second limit allows for mini-series that span multiple parts. This is an important strategy for increasing engagement and profile views. A one-minute video is already a small amount of time to condense a creative idea into, but it provides just enough room to adapt and experiment.

2. Reels vs TikTok: Audio

Spot the difference (Image credit: itsjustnife on Instagram and ampwrld on TikTok)

TikTok’s sound library is not limited to chart music. Its users are constantly creating new sounds, which sometimes become part of new trends, and it has even given indie music artists early success. Gen Z frequently tries to ‘join’ these fast-paced trends as soon as possible in order to expand their views and become one of the success stories rewarded fame via a viral TikTok audio.

Make no mistake, Reels has a diverse range of audio options, but it lacks the depth of TikTok’s library. Much of the audio on Reels is taken from TikTok videos. This system works well, but it still requires Reels and its audience to rely on TikTok to create a video that will perform well in the algorithm.

Instagram is not a platform for music. Because it is based on artists sharing their original work, it has tighter copyright restrictions by nature, whereas TikTok was built on the premise of using copyrighted music. Instagram’s attempt to merge two very different business models results in a clash.

TikTok is more about a generation sharing ideas to create entertainment and uniting in jokes, whereas Reels is simply Instagram’s way of competing with TikTok and attempting to reclaim some of their audience.

Reels vs TikTok: Video editing

Instagram (left) vs TikTok (right) (Image credit: Instagram and TikTok)

TikTok’s trends are frequently influenced by specific video effects. Reels only has the Instagram Stories filters and does not have as many effects as TikTok. Specific effects are sometimes required for users who are attempting to keep up with trends. For some, the touch up button, which softens your face, is one of TikTok’s most valuable features.

The Reels equivalent is not quite as powerful, but it does include filters with improved touch-up features. The disadvantage is that filters and effects are not separated on Reels; they are combined, which means you can only select one and thus have less versatility in the final look of your video.

TikTok occasionally offers the option to save videos to your camera roll, which may be off-putting to creatives. The videos are saved with a watermark and a credit to the user at the end, which protects the content to some extent. Because there is no option to save a Reel, that work is arguably more protected, which is consistent with Instagram’s original business model. Because Instagram has always been about image and presentation, a benefit of Reels is that a thumbnail for a video can be selected from your camera roll, whereas TikTok requires a frame from the video itself.

Reels vs TikTok: Analytics

Instagram has always had a difficult to navigate and changing algorithm, and Reels has yet to develop one that is as clear or effective for this type of content as TikTok’s. TikTok’s appeal to Gen Z and Millenials stems in part from its ease of becoming a monetised influencer. TikTok also provides more in-depth insights into your audience, whereas Reels adds nothing to Instagram’s standard analytics.

Reels vs TikTok: Paid advertising

TikTok includes advertisements as well as sponsored content. Sponsored content is typically provided by larger corporations and thus exists to help influencers grow rather than companies. TikTok advertisements are tailored to feeds, whereas Reels does not feature advertisements, which is a significant advantage for its audience.

Influencers can still add a tag to a post that informs the audience that the content is sponsored. This is much more user friendly, and was most likely made possible by Instagram’s advertising capabilities in other areas.

Which should you use: Reels or TikTok?

TikTok is unquestionably the best platform for short video content. Reels is a clear attempt by Instagram to reclaim its audience, but it is also a useful feature of the platform that should be utilised to its full potential.

Engaging moving image is the future of entertainment, and TikTok is the place to explore it right now. However, if you’re looking for new ways to grow your Instagram account, Reels is a great way to add depth to your brand presentation in the form of a short video. Remember that if you’re new to TikTok, you can direct your existing Instagram following to your account by reposting watermarked versions of your videos on Reels.

Don’t be afraid to branch out and make use of both platforms. They can definitely bounce ideas off each other in ways that are extremely beneficial to your business or personal brand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *