The Reels vs. TikTok debate has been the talk of the town ever since Instagram debuted Reels in 2020. And while both may be similar, there are stark differences between them.
Since its inception in the social media sphere, TikTok has been celebrated as an uber-influential video content platform for youngsters. The TikTok algorithm can make you go viral overnight, adding to its charm.
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On the contrary, Instagram is all in on boosting Reels on its Explore page to promote its video content capabilities.
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But which of the two is better for your content marketing strategy? Let’s discuss Reels vs. TikTok features and content in today’s piece. We’ll start with the role both play in content marketing and conclude with which short-form video model you should focus on.
What is content marketing?
Before we dive deeper, here’s a quick recap of what content marketing is:
Content marketing includes creating and sharing digital resources such as social copy, pictures, videos, and blogs online.
Content marketing targets a specific audience to promote a business or person’s online presence. This marketing type covers blogging and social media posting for creating brand and product or service awareness.
Like any other type of marketing, content marketing is not selling itself but educating and persuading a niche audience to buy from you by sharing how you can help them.
What is the role of Instagram and TikTok in content marketing?
If you’re new in the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok territory, here’s some clarification: Instagram Reels are one of many post types/features Instagram offers. On the other hand, TikTok is a social media platform that is based solely on short-form video content.
Instagram is a photo-sharing app with full-screen, vertical-view videos called Reels to compete against the fast-growing TikTok. While Instagram has 1.22 billion monthly active users, TikTok is catching up quickly with a monthly user base of 1 billion.
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Whether you plan on making TikTok videos or Instagram Reels, both are helpful in content marketing. Because you can effectively use bite-sized videos to promote your website and brand.
Look at how Huda Beauty does it on both platforms. It shows how you can use its products in its TikTok videos and Instagram Reels.
Besides brand awareness, your videos can also improve brand reputation. For instance, you can create Reels or TikToks giving a behind-the-scenes tour of your business. Frank and Oak does this very well. Here’s a BTS Reel the clothing store shared on Instagram:
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Moreover, TikTok and Instagram Reels can be used to directly sell to your audience as they become more shopping-friendly. In fact, 44% of users shop on Instagram weekly. To this end, tag products in your Instagram Reels and provide a seamless buying (and paying) experience on your Instagram shop.
Here’s more on how you can use TikTok and Instagram Reels for content marketing:
- Share informative or entertaining videos that attract people to your business
- Give a behind-the-scenes tour to show off your positive company culture
- Create videos that announce offers and discounts to encourage people to buy
- Direct people to your website by mentioning you’ve shared your site link in the bio
- Post explanatory or apologetic videos in case of a brand crisis
Also Read: Instagram for Business: 14 Tips to Grow Your Audience
Instagram Reels vs. Tiktok Features
Now that we’re past the basics, here’s a look at the difference between Instagram and TikTok features:
Initially, TikTok had a video duration of just a minute. However, you can create longer videos of up to 10 minutes on the video-first app. In contrast, Instagram Reels max out at 90 seconds, meaning you must deliver your message rather speedily.
The difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok video length makes you question if you can post the same content on both platforms? Yes, you can. Unsure about the video size and dimensions? Worry not; here is A Complete Guide to Instagram Video Size for 2023!
As per a new feature, any video of under 15 minutes that you post to Instagram will be shown as a Reel. So if you post a pre-recorded video to IG, you can post a much longer Reel. If you’d like to create a Reel on the app, you’ll have to keep it short and catchy.
Find out How to Schedule Instagram Posts, Reels & Stories in 2023!
But while you can post the same content on both apps, it doesn’t mean you should. Why? Simple: if people see the same video on both platforms, they’ll only engage with it on one.
Moreover, the same type of content doesn’t work for both platforms in terms of performance. So, for the sake of maintaining high engagement, it’s best to at least modify your content before posting your TikTok video on Instagram or vice versa.
Both Instagram and TikTok offer a slew of effects, filters, and stickers. However, both have distinct features as well.
You see, with TikTok, you can create Duets or Stitch videos. These video features enable creators to interact with one another. For instance, creators can use Stitch and Duet to recreate other’s content with a unique twist.
In the case of Duet, users can create their own video side by side with another TikTok video. This TikTok from Milk Bar is a good example of a duet video it created to show its reaction to influencer @lilypcrumbs’ video.
On the other hand, Stitch enables you to add bits of other videos in your own TikTok post.
Then there is Instagram which has a unique feature of its own in the form of ‘Collab’ posts. Such a post is co-authored by two accounts and hence, appears in the feeds of both.
To create a Collab post, the original poster invites an account as a collaborator while posting. Once the request is accepted, the post shows in both feeds, which results in better engagement as it is shown to two different audiences.
Also, we have 15 Tips to Grow Your Instagram Engagement Rate!
You can distinguish a Collab Reel by spotting the names of two accounts mentioned instead of just one of the original posters. Below is an example:
Music and sounds
Music is an integral part of both Instagram Reels and TikTok videos. TikTok has a Creative Center and an Audio Library, while Instagram has its own Music Library.
TikTok, however, is the clear winner when it comes to audio. Why? For one, TikTok has a wider sound library. Secondly, Instagram lags behind because brands cannot use copyrighted music without explicit permission from the audio owner.
You may also have noticed a slight glitch when saving your Reels — many Reels are saved without the audio. Hopefully, Instagram will come up with a solution for this issue if it wants to continue competing against TikTok head-on.
Captions and hashtags
Like regular posts on Instagram, Reel captions allow up to 2,200 characters and 30 hashtags. This means you can easily write longer captions which allows you to engage with your audience better. P.S. you can easily write social captions with the help of an AI caption generator.
On the other hand, TikTok’s caption length was restricted to just 300 characters. But last year, it increased its caption length to 2,200 characters — the same as Instagram. This definitely came as good news for creators as they can now use more hashtags and keywords in their captions along with describing their point of view better.
Clearly, brands like Ulta Beauty use this extra caption space wisely to explain their latest launches.
Find Out: How to Find TikTok Hashtags and Go Viral
TikTok is clear about how creators can make money directly through the platform. Its Creator Next program includes a Creator Fund that pays creators based on the success of their TikTok videos.
Creator Next also covers the TikTok Creator Marketplace, where creators can find brand deals and Live + Video Gifts, a feature that enables users to give monetary gifts to creators.
In contrast, Instagram is vague on how marketers can monetize Reels. It does have an Instagram Reels Play Bonus program, but this plan has some shortcomings.
For example, only business and creator accounts can access this program. The program is also only available in limited languages. Lastly, the Reels Play Bonus plan has unclear and strict requirements, which makes it difficult to monetize Reels.
Related Read: Instagram Monetization: Make Money with Instagram in 2023
Hopefully, Instagram is working on closing this gap between its monetization capabilities and those of TikTok.
Moving on to advertising your products in your TikTok videos, there are 5 different kinds of TikTok ads marketers can try out. Here’s a quick rundown:
- In-feed ads: These ads appear between TikTok videos, much like the ads you see when scrolling through Instagram stories.
- Brand takeover ads: These full-screen ads appear when a user opens their TikTok app, giving marketers a chance to directly advertise their business to their target audience.
- TopView ads: TopView ads are in-feed apps that appear at the top of the For You feed, so they’re less in the face but still at the top of other content.
- Branded hashtag challenge: A Branded Hashtag Challenge ad has a specific hashtag that a brand sponsors. This way, the brand pushes people on TikTok to participate in following a challenge to create awareness about itself.
Also Read: TikTok Advertising: A Complete Guide to Use TikTok Ads in 2022
As you can see, TikTok is a great place for advertising your brand. So how does Instagram stand against these many ad formats?
Instagram has Reels ads that appear between Reel content, whether a user is viewing Reels content in their Feed, on the Explore page, or in the Reels tab.
You can recognize the ad between Reels as it comes with the ‘sponsored’ label.
You can also create shoppable ads on Instagram, which enable you to tag products. This allows users to buy, view, save, and learn more about your product directly via Instagram.
Every marketer wants to know if what they’re doing with their social media efforts is working. This is where social media analytics come into the picture. Fortunately, both TikTok and Instagram have in-built analytics that gives insights into your short-form videos’ performance.
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Let’s talk about Reels analytics first: Instagram shows you analytics specific to the performance of your Reels. These include the comments, views, saves, reach, interactions, and play counts your Reels have received.
You can always use a third-party tool for more detailed Instagram insights. One such app is ContentStudio which gives you in-depth Instagram analytics for you. It gives you data about your audience, reaches, impressions, and even the best times to post. Here’s how it shows all your analytics in one screen!
As for TikTok, since it is a fully video-based app, you get more detailed insights within the app itself. This means that along with covering overall account performance, TikTok’s inbuilt analytics show you metrics related to each video too.
In addition to basic metrics such as views, likes, shares, and more, TikTok Analytics also shows you which videos are your top performers, where your audience is coming from, as well as the average watch time and watched full video rate.
Instagram Reels vs. TikTok Content
Apart from having some different features, you must have also noticed some differences between Instagram and TikTok content. To put it in the open for you, here are 4 differences between the content you see on both social media applications:
Despite both being short-form video supporters, there’s a difference in the type of content you see on TikTok and in Instagram Reels.
TikTok mostly centers around entertaining or explanatory videos. You typically see skits, challenges, quick tutorials, how-to content, and product reviews and recommendations on the app.
When it comes to Instagram Reels, though, you’ll see more collaborative content there. Instagram Reels also feature more lifestyle, product launches, and use-case videos.
Another thing to consider regarding the difference in the type of content: TikTok has unedited, organic, non-serious content. Instagram, on the flip side, features more polished and properly edited content.
So, one thing that counts when trying to figure out which bandwagon to jump on is the type of content you aim to create.
Since TikTok is a video-first app and Instagram is basically a photo-first app, you can’t follow the same content strategy for both.
Instead of just planning what videos to create for Instagram, you must also plan what photos to share. Moreover, the user base at IG values aesthetics, so it’s important for your photo grid to be well-planned.
Related Read: How To Ace Instagram Aesthetics For Businesses
In short, when making a TikTok content strategy, you only have to focus on video quality and the type of videos you’ll make. For Instagram, you’ll need a mix of graphics, photos, and stories to post in addition to video content for Reels.
There’s a slight difference in user demographics between the two competitors too.
TikTok is favored by a younger audience — the largest age group that uses the app is Gen Z. About 25% of TikTok users are 10 – 19 years old.
Instagram is not as popular among teenagers, though. However, it still has 31% of users in the 18 to 24 age bracket, closely following its largest age group of 25 to 32-year-olds (millennials).
Another point to note is that a bigger majority of TikTok users are females — about 61%. In comparison, Instagram has a more equal distribution with approx. 48% of females and 52% of males use the app.
The final thing to discuss in the Reels vs. TikTok debate: which platform has a more supportive algorithm?
Both apps look at how users interact with accounts and their interests when deciding what to show them in their feeds. Yet TikTok is a master at making videos (and creators) go viral. But you can’t say the same about Instagram.
This is because the TikTok algorithm is pretty fair in allowing new and old users to grow. But where TikTok doesn’t consider the likes and comments of your previous posts and your follower count, Instagram does.
This means your TikTok videos have a higher chance of going viral than your Reels. Even though Instagram is pushing Reels to get better engagement to popularize the feature, Instagram’s algorithm relies heavily on how popular an account is when boosting its posts.
Instagram Reels Vs. TikTok — Which Should You Pick?
You need to consider a few factors when deciding whether you should direct your content marketing efforts toward Reels or TikTok videos. For one, see where your target audience lies. If you’re targeting a younger generation, TikTok would be a better place for you.
Similarly, the type of videos you create also matters. If your content type is humorous, TikTok should be your go-to choice. But if you’re more into product showcasing videos and partnering up with influencers, Instagram could be a better pick for you.
At the end of the day, you need to evaluate which platform’s features would be more suitable for your brand. You may even take to both apps, one at a time.
Just remember one thing: post frequently to push your videos toward the virality zone and analyze your performance to make better content. For this, ContentStudio can help by helping you schedule posts and by giving you detailed analytics regardless of who wins the Reels vs. TikTok battle for you.
Should I post on TikTok or Instagram?
Both Instagram and TikTok serve similar business goals. However, if you want to increase brand awareness by going viral and showing off your brand personality, TikTok is the place for you. On the contrary, Instagram is for those who want to increase conversions and direct people to their website.
Should I post the same content on TikTok and Instagram reels?
You can post similar content on both TikTok and Instagram Reels. However, it’s best to not post the exact same content on both platforms. You can repurpose content to make it more suitable for the platform you plan to post to.
Reels vs. TikTok which has more engagement?
TikTok videos have a 6x higher engagement rate than Reels, as per the latest SocialInsider study. This is owing to the viral potential of TikTok, which also has a bigger audience of Gen Z users than Instagram.
Alafiya Memon is a freelance content writer and an ardent lover of fries. She creates value-packed, conversational blog posts. When she's not working, you'll find her doodling or reading.