Over the past few years, video has become the primary way for content creators to connect with their audiences. TikTok and Instagram’s Reels feature quickly surpassed YouTube in popularity and new users causing YouTube to respond with its own rival, Shorts. TikTok now reaches more than 1 billion monthly users worldwide, making it the sixth-largest social network. Instagram still outranks TikTok with nearly 2 billion monthly active users and comes in as the fourth-largest network, although TikTok is expected to reach upwards of 3 billion by the end of 2023.
Instagram and TikTok both offer viral video opportunities and more authentic ways to connect with audiences. With so much overlap between the two platforms, marketers are left wondering which platform to direct their energy – and ad dollars – toward.
First, let’s look at the similarities between the two platforms. Both share short-form, vertical video content and offer in-app editing features. Users can create and use AR filters, upload pre-recorded videos, and add text and audio to personalize their video content and connect on a deeper level with their followers.
Both feeds are also based heavily on algorithmic recommendations, showing users content similar to what they’ve engaged with in the past in an effort to keep them on the platform longer. TikTok’s ‘For You’ page and Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab each provide users with a personalized experience, meaning you can expand your reach to include users who are not currently following your brand.
The most notable difference between the two platforms is video length. TikTok originally started with just 15-second videos but has evolved to allow videos of up to 10 minutes in length to be uploaded to the platform; however, recording in-platform video is limited to three minutes. Reels max out at just 90 seconds, which is an improvement from the original 60 seconds Instagram used to offer its users.
The second biggest difference between the two platforms is their audiences. Nearly 50% of TikTok users are under the age of 30. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of Instagram users are between the ages of 25-44. If you’re a brand targeting a certain age group, you may select one platform over the other.
When it comes to editing videos within the platform, Reels includes the same editing features found in Instagram Stories, which include the draw, stickers, closed captions and text, as well as AR filters, speed control, transitions and an audio library. TikTok takes the cake with its audio and video features, such as voice changers, sound editing, photo mode and more. There are third-party editing apps and tools available for marketers who want to take advantage of these types of features for Reels.
The audio library on each platform is substantial and each has its own positive attributes. The audio search feature within Reels is superior, but TikTok’s audio library has far fewer limitations for brands than Instagram.
TikTok is also a video-only platform (with the exception of photo mode) while Instagram still offers a variety of content-sharing options. Instagram Stories and feed posts are still earning engagements at a high rate, which presents additional marketing opportunities that brands do not get on TikTok.
If you’re here for a definitive answer on if TikTok or Reels is the better platform… well, I can’t give you that. There are too many factors to consider when making that decision for your brand: your audience, your content funnel and the skillset of your internal marketing team. But, the best part is, you don’t have to choose! Because there are advantages to both platforms and vertical video content can be used interchangeably across both platforms, many companies have opted for a presence on both. Will your brand be next?
If you need help managing or growing your presence on social media, connect with us to learn how we can help!