Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: Which is better for your business?
Updated: Jul 14, 2022
Short-form video content has exploded in popularity ever since TikTok launched in 2016. TikTok was actually the most-downloaded app in 2019 and 2020, hitting 850 million downloads by the latter year.
Now Instagram is entering the same space by introducing Reels. It’s truly easier than ever for small businesses and creators to shoot, edit, and post straight from their mobile devices!
But if you’re new to all this, you probably have questions. What’s the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok videos? And how can you leverage these videos to promote and grow your business?
We’ll answer those questions right here so we can help you get started on short-form video marketing.
Evaluating Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
There are a lot of differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok’s videos. Here are the basics:
TikTok has a more barebones interface, as the focus is fast and easy production as well as consumption of content.
Instagram’s interface is fairly straightforward too, with a design many find intuitive.
TikTok lets you edit on timeline and offers the usual raft of editing tools: touch-up, effects, speed, transitions, text, voiceover, etc. There are more editing and effect options than on Reels.
Reels also has most of the usual editing tools, but most of them are carried over from regular Instagram (like the filters).
Audio in a TikTok video can be anywhere 15, 30, or 60 seconds long. It’s typically taken from popular songs, but can actually feature audio from just about anywhere. Audio can be volume-adjusted too.
As with TikTok, Reels allows audio from the video recording itself and the app’s (Instagram’s) music library. You can also get audio from another creator’s public Reel. Overall, the choices are more limited than on TikTok, as Instagram tries to protect artist rights.
You can share videos on TikTok and through other platforms (WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook). As with Instagram, videos can be private or public. They can be recommended to people via the for-you page and their “Following” tabs.
Videos can be private or public and can be posted on both your Reels Tab, your main Instagram feed, and even your stories. The app’s algorithm takes care of recommending your Reels to others.
150 characters. It’s encouraged to use hashtags and keywords.
There’s no character limit on Reels captions. It’s also encouraged to use hashtags and keywords for relevance and added description.
Videos you produce that others save will have a TikTok watermark. This is visible even when shared on other platforms.
The only way to save another’s Instagram Reel to your camera roll is to do so without its audio, which offers a little more protection for creators.
Includes view count (video and profile), likes, comments, shares, and follows. For an even more in-depth analysis of figures, you can switch to TikTok Pro.
Shows estimated accounts reached and video plays (exclusive of replays), as well as comments, likes, and shares.
There are other differences worth considering, of course. For instance, it’s generally accepted that TikTok’s demographics are younger, with the biggest chunk (25%) of its users being 10-19 years old.
For comparison, Instagram’s biggest user group (at 31.2%) is made up of people 25-34 years old.
Two-thirds of Instagram’s userbase is made up of millennials and Gen Z. However, more and more Gen Z users seem to be migrating to TikTok, where they also seem to spend more time on average than on Instagram.
Instagram is still the bigger platform at 2 billion monthly active users and may still have wider reach in terms of age ranges. TikTok is far from insignificant, though, with 1 billion monthly active users of its own.
Choosing One for Your Business
So which one of the two should you use? It depends.
To start with, consider your audience. Do more of them belong to younger generations like Gen Z?
You’re probably better off with TikTok, in that case, as there are more young users on TikTok than Instagram. 40% of Gen Z even say their shopping habits are influenced by TikTok.
This isn’t to say that Instagram falls behind here, of course. It’s long been a haven for certain retail industries, and it even allows you to track website clicks (great for following conversions).
This just suggests that if you’re selling to a predominantly Gen Z audience, TikTok may be better. The opposite could be true if you’re selling to an older audience – that’s why brand goals, target customers, and platform demographics are important.
You should also consider whether or not the platform’s style matches with the content and purpose of your videos. There are differences between the two, even if you can’t see them at first glance.
For instance, many content creators agree that TikTok encourages experimental and rough content more readily than Instagram, where there’s a bigger expectation for polished and “grid-worthy” work.
Does that factor into your decision? It may or may not. If you have limited content production resources, for example, it may mean you would be better off with a more forgiving platform.
In the same vein, many creators describe TikTok as a place ideal for casual engagement and content. Instagram tends to be more about educating viewers on something or even showing off aesthetics.
Interestingly, some also suggest that Instagram is preferable if you already have a following while TikTok is better if you’re starting from scratch. There have been a few (admittedly uncontrolled, but still suggestive) experiments showing that.
What We Think
As we more or less suggested above, the ideal platform may ultimately depend on what type of business you have and a raft of changing circumstances.
That said, here’s our current advice if you really can’t decide between the two: if in doubt, use both. The capital and effort required for it isn’t prohibitive, anyway.
In fact, this sort of thing is already being done by a lot of content creators. That’s partly because it’s so easy to repost from one to the other.
The reposting typically happens from TikTok to Instagram, by the way. That’s why you’ll see a lot of stuff starting on TikTok Singapore suddenly popping up soon after on Instagram Reels in Singapore.
Why does the content posting usually start on TikTok? It’s actually because of the fact that the app supports reposting to other platforms. It leaves a watermark on the video, sure, but it still reposts it pretty much as is.
Also worth noting here is that the nature of the two platforms actually encourages this order. You see, a lot of content creators use TikTok as a staging platform for their content, thanks to its ready acceptance of experimental material.
What usually happens, then, is that the creators take especially successful content from TikTok and put it on Instagram as a “grid-worthy” reel.
Get started on your short-form video marketing now
In sum, both platforms have much to offer to most businesses. Which one you should prioritise depends on your situation.
If you think you need further help choosing between the two or even marketing on them, let us know. We’d love to sit down and talk with you for a bit about what could be best for your situation.
We’ve also helped many other businesses figure out their social media strategies on platforms including and beyond the two that we took up in this article. So, don’t hesitate to contact us for a chat for your digital marketing needs.