Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: What Influencers Need to Know

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: What Influencers Need to Know

The popularity of short and fun social media videos has created a whirling storm and there is no end in sight. At first, people assumed it was a trend and only tweens and teens are into such content. However, that is contrary to the truth, everyone is joining in on the craze TikTok influencers popularized with catchy tunes, phrases, songs and audio recordings with moves to match or a video is what social media users are into today.

Instagram before the dawn of TikTok did not cater to the short video format with an audio of your choosing. Instagram reels were introduced for that very purpose after social media users shared many videos from the TikTok app on their platform. Consumers gain the most with such competition as now you have options that will make it easier for you to create the content you desire in a format that looks good and catches people’s attention.

About the Instagram Reels and TikTok Debate in Brief

TikTok is not the first app to create a platform for short videos as Snapchat had such features, though, TikTok gained popularity because it adopted a different strategy and layout for the app that makes someone continuously scroll looking forward to seeing more content. Considering videos can be as short as 15 seconds is what gave the app an edge in the beginning. As of today, you can post a full presentation of up to ten minutes.

Instagram reels have allowed creators to boost their engagements because these reels are only up to 90 seconds long and can be easily discovered across newsfeeds or stories and explorer pages. The explorer page allows more people to be exposed to your content even those who don't follow you but like similar content.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Statistics to Know

Numbers don’t lie and the statistics for both platforms show similarities and differences that are crucial and the key to understanding your audience.

According to Statista, TikTok has a much younger audience and caters more to Gen-z, that is, up to 25% of their users are between the age of 10-19 years, and 22% representing 20-29 years while 30-39 years are at 21%. These account for the majority of users on TikTok. Instagram on the other hand leans more toward the millennials with the majority of users being 25-34 years at 32% and 18-24 years at 30% making them the majority of audiences on the platform.

If looking for engagement TikTok has proven to be very effective. For example, a post-Kylie Jenner published on TikTok got 23.5 million views and an 89% impressions rate and only received 1 million views and a 0.5% impression rate on Instagram reels. However, Instagram reels receive much more engagement compared to IGTV. Reels receive 200-600 more likes than a video post or IGTV.

Key Differences and Similarities between Instagram Reels and TikTok

At first blush, Instagram Reels and TikTok have a lot in common. These short yet engaging video formats entertain audiences and keep them engaged. Plus, both platforms offer music and visual effects.

However, there are some differences you can mention when you start experimenting with Instagram Reels and TikTok. Long story short, take a look at a handy infographic below:

Now, you're welcome to read about differences and similarities between Instagram Reels and TikTok in details:

  • Video Length. There are a few key differences between the two apps even though they serve a similar purpose. One, the video length for TikTok was increased from its initial 15 seconds to 10 minutes, while Instagram reels increased from 60 seconds to 90 seconds. Two, both apps have native editing tools, though their functions and abilities differ.
  • Editing Tools. TikTok features such as GIPHY in green screen, one-tap visual enhancement, and various effects for audio give a much superior application of editing compared to Instagram. Instagram makes use of tools like stickers, filters, and AR effects but is not as sophisticated as those TikTok.
  • Type of Content. Three, with Instagram it's all about the looks and how aesthetically pleasing the entire production looks. TikTok on the other hand has a more raw and experimental look that feels authentic and more down to earth and grounded in reality.
  • Engagement. Four, the algorithms for both apps work differently. TikTok is very much focused on user-generated content, the content pushed is about your likes and interests rather than the accounts you follow. It's a very ‘for you’ based type of algorithm. Instagram reels help with creating higher impressions and visibility. The issue is that reels to be found on the explore page are not catered to your interest per se.

How to Choose The Best Platform: Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

Having a social media presence doesn't mean making the most out of platforms. For most influencers and brands, it's daunting to use both platforms–Instagram and TikTok–so the logical question appears: how to choose the best platform that suits your needs?

Here are five actionable tips on how to make the final choice.

1. Experiment with Video Creation

You cannot determine which platform will give you your desired outcome by just researching and reading such articles. Yes, that is a starting point to have a basic understanding, but experience is the best teacher, and experimenting on both platforms is encouraged and needed.

Try different formats and editing styles on both platforms and observe your analytics for engagement to understand where your audience is at and what content they prefer. This will allow you to tailor-make content that is similar but with a few different formats that will give the best results on both platforms.

Check out an example from Sephora. The company uploaded an Instagram Reel:

To experiment with video format and content, the company also  took the users behind the scenes when creating a TikTok video for its TikTok profile:

2. Analyze Content Performance

Analytics is your key tool for understanding the performance of your content. Use the native analytics built into the app as well as third-party content analysis platforms like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and many more.

This will allow you a 'behind the curtain' look as to what exactly you're doing right, and wrong and what can be improved or adjusted.

Here's how Instagram Reel analytics can look like:

You may be trying to improve your TikTok video views, analyzing the content will give you better insight and you won't move blind. Check out how in-built TikTok analytics look like below:

3. Know Your Audience Well

When creating content, before you begin, you must understand the people you are cheating this content for. This means from general demographics such as age and location to the times their online presence is at the peak. This will allow you to tailor content that will have the best chance to perform well.

The simplest way to understand your audience is to ask questions or pay close attention to their comments as the comment section can be a valuable source of information for your content creation:

4. Find Out What Works Best for You

You may like the content but it doesn't receive the reaction you wanted or expected. Continuously adjust and change accordingly to your observations until you hit that sweet spot. What works for the creator won’t always work for you, figure out your way by trial and error and adjusting based on analytics and what your audience suggests. Maybe your Instagram reels don’t have a set mood that can be done with the feature add music to create more interest.

5. Poll Other Influencers

The best thing about social media is the quick access to people and analytics of their pages using analytic tools. You can use such tools to get general information about other influencers' engagement and to observe and understand the current trends and what formats are most popular. Observing other content creators who have good analytics can help you have a deeper understanding of what content is moving fastest.

Let's take a look at one content creator who has a presence on Instagram and TikTok. Here's how her Instagram Reels look like. Take a closer look at the number of views she gets…

And here's how TikTok accounts. First, she creates different videos for both platforms. Second, TikTok doesn't bring high engagement.

The Bottom Line

Instagram Reels and TikTok both offer great opportunities for businesses and influencers. These platforms allow you to create, edit and monitor your content and that of others to an extent. They are both a win-win especially if you can create content for both platforms as their similarities in formats allow for content to be shareable both ways.

They are both different and similar, it is important to take advantage of this and use all their advantages to serve your content. If you are a business or influencer beginner entering the social media marketing world it is best to use both and experiment and see what works best, it may be one or both platforms, you just have to first try.