The Battle of Views – TikTok vs Instagram Reels

TikTok and Instagram Reels are the Kings of short form video content at the moment and if you aren’t utilising them, chances are you’re missing out on engaging your audience where they spend most of their time. It’s safe to say both of these platforms blew up during the Covid19 lockdowns last year. While TikTok initially appealed to a younger audience with 62% of the user base being aged 10 to 29, a growing number of older people have adopted the use of TikTok. On the other hand, using Instagram Reels allows you to benefit from the 1 Billion Instagram user base and support from Instagram parent company, Facebook.


From a marketing perspective, both platforms offer new ways and opportunities to reach your audience through engaging video content. First, you’ll need to evaluate each platform and decide whether either are best suited to your brand and whether they reach your target audience. Both Reels and TikTok are trending right now and there’s no better time than the present to hop on board and make your mark on them.


What is TikTok?

This trendy, Chinese owned, video sharing social media platform that’s taken the world by storm with its 800 million active users isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. To sum up TikTok, think viral videos such as lip-syncing clips, dance routines and challenges, all on one platform. Content aside, the algorithm is TikTok’s real secret weapon. It floods your “For You” (Essentially, your feed) with similar, relevant content, which is why users spend on average 52 minutes on the app per day. As you can tell, TikTok is pretty addictive. The platform makes it easy to hop on trends by using the same soundtrack. TikTok has a simple user interface that allows you to record video directly on the app, edit it, add stickers, filters and music, thereby giving everyone the tools to be a successful creator.


What are Reels?

Instagram launched Reels in 2020, after the success of TikTok made it obvious that people liked short form video content in an infinite scrolling format – so Instagram conveniently had to capitalise on the craze. With the obvious head start of an already established Instagram user base, it wasn’t long before Reels became the new in thing among Instagram users. Users create Reels directly on the Instagram app which populates a dedicated Reels section on their profile as well as can be viewed in a user’s feed as well as the Reels feed. To access the Reels feed, users have to go to their Explore page and click on the first Instagram Reel clip to access popular and trending videos.


Key Differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok

Even after those descriptions, the differentiating lines between the 2 platforms may still be a bit hazy. Here are some key differences that are relevant to businesses and marketers for choosing which platform is best suited to reach their audience.

  • With Instagram Reels being the newer platform, it isn’t yet as crowded with content as TikTok may be. This means your videos may not have to compete with as much content for views.
  • Instagram Reels can form part of your overall Instagram strategy. Reels are a great way to grow and engage the Instagram audience you already have, and you can promote your reels within the platform.
  • If you want to reach a Gen Z audience between 16 to 24, TikTok is definitely the way to go, however, if you want to reach a slightly older audience above 25, Instagram Reels will be your best bet.
  • TikTok allows you to run TikTok ad campaigns while you can’t as yet promote an Instagram Reel the same way you can promote a post or IGTV.
  • TikTok can be a way more interactive co-creation platform. Users can ‘duet’ each other and post response videos.
  • Due to licensing restrictions, business accounts are unable to add music to thie Instagram Reels. This means that your business Instagram account won’t have access to the built-in music feature in Instagram Reels, making it difficult to jump on trends.


These are some of the things you need to consider when choosing which platform to incorporate into your marketing strategy. However, if you want to maximise your reach, you can always make use of both and even repurpose your TikTok content for Reels and vice versa. See which suits your brand and marketing goals and start creating.


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