Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

When it comes to getting better engagement from social media, video is the format that’s going to get you the best results, both now and in the future.

The people behind the world’s biggest social platforms know this, which is why many of them have started incorporating more video-driven features into their sites in recent years.

Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter – they’ve all started featuring video more prominently. Even Pinterest has launched a Promoted Videos option to help marketers and publishers reach their audiences in a more visually compelling way.

But the tools that are by far the most talked about in the social media space at the moment – and the tools that I also use the most! – are TikTok and Instagram Reels.

Here, I’m going to talk you through the pros and cons of each, so you can decide how to incorporate them into your own social media strategy, if you want to.

Tik Tok: is it worth it?

Last year, I put together a blog that talks about TikTok in more detail.

To recap, TikTok originally started as a lip-sync app way back in 2017, before exploding into the short form video tool we now know and love.

TikTok’s key features:

  • The app allows you to create 15 second videos quickly and easily.
  • You can experiment with timers, speed settings, filters, beauty effects and more.
  • You can also apply a piece of music to really make your video pop.
  • Once you have finished your recording, you can edit your video by replacing its music, adjusting the volume, adding a voiceover, and playing around with overlays and special effects. The in-app editing features are quite limited, so the best way to do this is to use a third party video editor like FlexClip.

What else do you need to know?

  • TikTok doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s full of fun, creative, off-the-cuff content – not carefully directed promotional videos – which makes it seriously addictive!
  • TikTok’s users tend to be at the younger end of the scale, between 16 and 24 years old. So, if you’re targeting Gen Z, it’s the best place to be; if you’re aiming for an older audience, you may not get the same levels of engagement.
  • It’s packed full of celebrity users and emerging influencers… so there are lots of opportunities for collaborations!
  • As a platform, it focuses much more on promoting organic, user-generated content than paid-for ads.

Instagram Reels: a better alternative?

Reels is Instagram’s answer to the TikTok trend. Instagram has billed this feature – which was launched in August 2020 – as ‘a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos’.

Instagram Reels’ key features:

  • Like TikTok, Instagram Reels are only 15 seconds long.
  • There are lots of in-app editing tools and settings to try, including timers, countdowns, speed features and AR effects.
  • You can search for a song in Instagram’s music library and apply it to your creation. You can also upload an original soundtrack, which will be attributed to you and can be used by other Instagram users (as long as you have a public account).

What else do you need to know?

  • TikTok’s audience might be growing – but Instagram already has a huge, and very loyal, user base that are very receptive to its new features, including Reels.
  • Reels take centre stage in Instagram’s main navigation bar – so there’s a good chance your content will be seen by your followers!
  • The Reels algorithm favours video content that is entertaining, inspiring, and more than a little experimental. It’s not a fan of content that’s been recycled from other apps and contains their logos or watermarks, so you need to remove these if you want the best chance of showing up.

In summary…

TikTok and Instagram Reels boast very similar features. They both restrict the length of your videos, but they do allow you to get really creative with lots of cool sounds, effects and overlays.

The key thing to remember here is that TikTok and Instagram talk to very different audiences. So, instead of focusing on the features and functions that are on offer from each video generation tool, you should be considering what kind of people you want to target with your video content, and whether these people are more likely to hang out on relative newbie Tiktok (which gets more attention from Gen Z and Millennials), or the much more established Instagram (which definitely has an older and more business-minded community).

Still not sure whether you should jump on the TikTok bandwagon or stick with trusty Instagram and make the most of Reels? Drop me a message and I’ll help you decide which tool will work best for you and your business!