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The Battle Of The Platforms: Instagram Reels Vs. TikTok

Aug 04, 2023

Marketing News

The Battle Of The Platforms: Instagram Reels Vs. TikTok

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok is a hotly debated topic. 

Harnessing the power of short-form video is a skill essential to all marketers looking to make a mark on the online world, but which platform offers them the best tools to be able to do so?

Today, vertical videos in bite-size lengths are essential for keeping audiences engaged. Both TikTok and Instagram are able to offer this format – for free, might we add – but when it comes to choosing your fighter there are lots of other factors to consider besides engagement. 

The Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate is more deeply rooted in what you want to achieve through leveraging this content format, rather than Reels being “better” than TikTok or vice versa. Are you looking for quick growth? To expand your presence? Targeting a particular demographic? These answers will determine which platform you opt for. 

So, enter our Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate readily-armed with your business goals and an open mind and let’s find out which will best improve your marketing strategy. 

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are full-screen vertical videos which can be anywhere from 15 seconds – if shot in-app – to 15 minutes – if pre-filmed – in length. Instagram offers a whole host of editing tools, such as filters, captions, interactive backgrounds, stickers and more to those who choose to film and edit in-app. 

Where Instagram Stories disappear 24 hours after publication, Reels remain on your account indefinitely. This improves their discoverability and makes Reels content evergreen. 

The best part is that Instagram’s algorithm currently favours Reels, pushing them out to people who may not follow you yet. This is hugely beneficial to social media marketers! For more on the Reels algorithm, check out our blog on how to decode it.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

What is TikTok?

Though we’re certain everyone and their mothers know what TikTok is at this point, for the extremely small minority who don’t, TikTok is the social media platform that propelled short-form video to new heights. 

This video-sharing platform allows users to both create and consume videos running anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Like Instagram Reels, TikTok videos can be filmed and edited in-app – with multiple filters, stickers, voiceovers, effects and more available to create engaging content. 

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(AD) Can your pans do this?! They need to! ? #Tefal #Pans #KitchenHacks #Ingenio

♬ original sound – Poppy O’Toole

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok 

Features

Before getting started, it’s only natural to want to know exactly what each platform can do. 

Video length: Both platforms began by supporting 15 second-long videos. Today Reels now support 60 seconds while TikTok now supports anywhere up to 10 minutes. 

Text-to-speech/closed captions: Both platforms promote their inclusivity by accommodating the needs of people with disabilities; particularly those who are hard of hearing. Instagram rolled out its text-to-speech feature in 2021, while TikTok offers this plus auto-generated captions.

Remix vs. Duet: Instagram Remix allows users to create a Reel involving someone else’s video/photo. Similarly, TikTok’s Duet feature offers users the chance to publish a video alongside another’s original upload. 

Sound: originally known for its music and sound effect capabilities, TikTok’s audio library is huge. Users can add their original sounds to the library for others to use. Audio on Instagram Reels is similar, but much smaller. 

Content

Explore Page vs. For You Page: the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate would not be complete without a nod to these noteworthy features. 

TikTok’s algorithm is complex. It does a great job of showing users videos they could potentially be interested in by monitoring likes, comments, saves, shares etc. This constant outpour of content gives marketers a greater opportunity of being shown on multiple FYPs. 

On the other hand, marketers don’t have as much assurance that their content is going to reach the Explore tab. The Instagram algorithm isn’t as structured as TikTok’s yet, but there are multiple ways users can increase their chances of being featured

Unlike TikTok, Instagram’s Explore Page hosts multiple content types – Reels, Carousels and photos. For marketers looking to publish different types of content, the Explore Page is a lot more accommodating. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

Analytics 

An important area for marketers exploring the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate, easy-to-use, detailed analytics are key for successful strategies. 

Reels analytics give you insights into the performance of your published Reels – comments, saves, reach, views, interactions etc. You can use a third party tool for more detailed insights. 

TikTok offers detailed insights in-app. Not only does it give specific insights into the performance of individual videos, but also overall account performance, allowing marketers to constantly improve their strategies.

Click here for a detailed overview of TikTok’s analytics.

Audience reach and engagement

The Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate proves the latter to be triumphant when it comes to engagement rates. 

In 2023, Instagram Reels scored an average engagement rate of 1.23%, making them the best performing content type on the platform. However, TikTok videos come in at a lot higher. Accounts with fewer than 50k followers often see an average engagement rate of 5.7%. Larger accounts with 1M+ followers come in a little lower with 2.5%. 

If your goal is to increase engagement, TikTok is the way to go. 

Target demographics are also important to note here. Where TikTok is massively popular among Gen Zers, Instagram still remains a more appealing platform for Millennials. Who are you looking to reach?

Advertising 

The reason for the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate is to decide which is most beneficial to your marketing efforts. Here’s what’s TikTok advertising has to offer:

In-feed ads

Brand takeover ads

TopView ads

Branded hashtag challenge ads

Instagram also has ads that appear between Reels, whether the Reels are being viewed through the Reels tab, Explore page or in-Feed. Adorning the ‘Sponsored’ label, users will know that this isn’t just regular content. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

Instagram also offers the ability to create shoppable ads. Here, you can tag products, allowing users to buy, view, save and learn more about your products directly through Instagram. This creates a more seamless shopping experience. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok – which should you pick?

Both platforms offer you short-form, vertical video opportunities, so your choice should boil down to which will best suit the goals you’re looking to achieve. 

If you’re after quick growth and trendy content, TikTok is the place to go. However, if you’re looking to expand your brand’s online presence, tapping into Instagram Reels’ less-saturated marketplace is great for accessing a wider community. 

Deciding which side of the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok fence you sit on is also greatly determined by your target audience. As previously mentioned, Gen Z tend to gravitate towards TikTok while Millennials are well-accustomed to navigating Instagram. 

Many marketers utilise both platforms to leverage their engagement. As long as you tailor your content strategy goals to adhere to what each of them can offer, there is no downside to this idea. 

Whichever you choose, remember to post frequently, as this will push you towards the virality zone and improve your analytics for creating more refined future strategies.

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@ Socially Powerful

Author

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James Hacking

Writer

Socially Powerful, founded in 2017, stood as pioneers of the influencer marketing industry. Today we are a global social marketing agency and technology company.

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