Reels vs TikTok: 9 Key Differences Businesses Should Know

Reels vs TikTok: 9 Key Differences Businesses Should Know

Show Up Live Class - Reels vs TikTok 9 Key Differences Businesses Should Know by Roslyn Foo

TikTok use in Australia grew by 40% in the last 12 months and Australians now spend more time on TikTok than any other social media platform. So what are the key differences between Reels vs TikTok for businesses?

As social media platforms continue to battle for users and advertising dollars, video content has become an increasingly important part of the mix. And two of the most popular platforms for video are TikTok and Instagram. TikTok is known for its short-form, often trend-driven videos, while Instagram’s Reels platform allows for longer videos and gives creators more visibility. So, how do you know which platform is right for your marketing efforts? In this article, we’ll take a look at the key differences between marketing on TikTok vs. Instagram Reels and help you decide which platform is best suited for your business.

Marketing on TikTok vs. Instagram Reels: What’s the Difference for Businesses?

In today’s digital age, video content reigns supreme. It’s no wonder then that social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are rolling out new features to make it easier for users to create and share videos. TikTok, with its extreme popularity, has pushed Instagram to increase creator visibility through their competing Reels platform. While both platforms feature short-form, trend-driven content, they differ quite a bit when it comes to their audience.

In case you need to ask: What are Instagram Reels and TikToks?

Instagram Reels are short, creative videos that allow brands to flash their imagination, artistry, originality and show up for cultural trends, and collaborate with their communities. TikToks are also short videos, however, they are primarily created for entertainment purposes. Formerly musical.ly, TikTok exploded into a video-sharing application where a billion monthly users can join trends and share various one- to three-minute-long videos, such as ASMR vlogs, and mind-blowing life hacks. 

Below are the 9 most relevant differences between TikTok and Instagram Reel for businesses:

1. Purpose

TikTok was created more as a form of entertainment and a place for creators to connect with viewers casually. On the other hand, Instagram was created as a space for artists and creators to share original content that would advance their influence and brand. Reels content tends to be more aesthetically driven and information-focused. This could change, though with more Instagram Reels updates and advancements to the overall Instagram video experience. 

2. Demographics

TikTok’s audience is younger (Gen Z) than Instagram’s (Millennials) but that is projected to change as TikTok continues to garner mass appeal among older age groups. Brands wishing to market to Gen Z and beyond should start to build a TikTok presence. 
Show Up Secrets: Reels vs TikTok Audience Overview
Show Up Secrets: Reels vs TikTok Audience Overview

3. Video Duration

Both TikTok and Reels have actually expanded the duration of their videos since launching. TikTok began with 15, 30 and 60-second uploads but now allows for videos up to 10 minutes long. Instagram Reels also offers video lengths of 15, 30 and 60-seconds, and as of July 2022, you can share Instagram Reels with your audience that is up to 90 seconds long. 

TikTok is expanding its market and competing with YouTube. With longer videos, TikTok can have a longer period of engagement and attract older audiences.

4. Audio Library

TikTok is popular for amassing a huge collection of music filled with user-generated sounds as well as trending audio. Users publish their videos’ sounds onto the music library for other people to use and incorporate in their videos. Audio on Instagram Reels is quite similar, but with a smaller collection of featured music and sounds. A lot of the trending sounds from TikTok get carried over to Instagram. 

NOTE: Instagram business accounts are limited when it comes to using the existing audio library as Instagram has tighter copyright restrictions and requires users to share original content. However, if you have an Instagram creator account, you can take advantage of the entire Instagram audio library made available for your region.

5. In-App Editing Features

TikTok and Instagram Reels have pretty similar editing features at this point in the game. Both platforms allow you to record live reactions to other users’ videos in a side-by-side format; the feature is called Remix on Instagram and Duet on TikTok. TikTok has an additional feature called Stitch that allows users to add a cut of another video to the beginning of their own. 
6. Discoverability
Instagram Reels seem to be appearing everywhere on the platform, from showing up in the Reels tab, to a user’s grid, and the newsfeed. TikToks show up in two places – the For You Page (FYP) where it feeds users videos tailored to their interests (regardless of the number of likes and views), and the Following tab where videos from accounts the user follows will show up here plus content from other relevant accounts. 
TikToks are more likely to discover users who don’t follow the creator. Data shows that TikToks average 24.86% views per number of followers, while Reels average 144.03%. Considering that views are pretty similar across both platforms, this indicates that the bulk of Reels views come from the creator’s existing audience. So in short, if you want to grow an audience, you will benefit from showing up on TikTok. If you are creating content for your existing audience without the need to grow quickly, Reels will do the job. 

IMPORTANT: TikTok creators who also use Instagram Reels have the tendency to repost TikTok content onto their Instagram Reels. However, your Instagram Reels content originally from TikTok may not be promoted on the Instagram Explore tab and can become a low priority in Instagram’s algorithm. Instagram is making it clear to creators to approach both TikTok and Instagram Reels with specific content marketing strategies and a separate content creation process.

Remember, originality rules in both platforms.

7. Engagement Rates

A study by Social Media Today shows that while views are pretty similar on both platforms, engagement is higher on TikTok. Emerging TikTok influencers were reported to earn around 18% more engagement compared to other social media platforms. Instagram Reels statistically grew engagement rates within the app by 22%. However, Instagram’s overall engagement rate lags behind, with growing Instagram influencers only gaining 3.86%. TikTok’s easy content creation and sharing across platforms make it easier for individuals to establish their presence and gain a following.

8. Algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm tends to get more fresh eyes on your content, while the Reels algorithm appears to be pushing Reels more to existing followers. However, both algorithms are constantly changing as they learn and adapt to the ever-changing consumer digital behaviour.

NOTE: Instagram algorithm may hide content with a TikTok watermark and videos edited within Instagram using in-app editing tools have been reported to perform better than those edited in a third-party app. I believe this to be the similar with TikTok algorithm.

9. Analytics

Instagram Reels analytics measures Plays, Reel Interactions, Reach, Likes, Comments, and Saves. On TikTok, you get Profile Overview Analytics, Content Insights, and Followers Insights. Content Insights on TikTok are pretty detailed, including metrics like views, the number of shares, time spent watching each video, the traffic source type and more. Profile overview analytics show how many times videos are viewed in a certain period, profile visits, and follower count. 

Most brands will benefit from posting unique content on both platforms when it comes down to it. The content has the same main idea but should differ slightly considering each platform’s different purposes, sound options, audience demographics, campaign goals etc. 

Now you know the top differences between TikTok and Instagram Reels, if you only have the capacity to focus on one platform and make it gold, which of the above differences will influence your marketing decision?

Is Your Brand Campaign Ready?

‘Tis the perfect season to plan your end-of-year campaigns. Over 35% of Australians wait to spend on these key sales dates. 

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Summer season sales, we are stepping into a very busy period not only for retail businesses but also for influencers. So I recommend starting early to secure the talent that you want and ensure they receive their product in time to create quality content that will attract and engage with your target audience.

This is a key period for festive gifting and deepening your brand connection with consumers into the new year. I hope you make the most out of it!

ICYMI, read my article about Dynamic Video Marketing Trends with 3 steps to optimise your video content.

Will Instagram Reels Replace TikTok or vice versa?

Instagram Reels is actively rolling out new features and updates to better serve its users. TikTok, on the other hand, is streamlining its application to provide a better user experience and video upload quality. Both platforms are exhausting the latest technology to provide a more entertaining experience in sharing videos. TikTok isn’t going away anytime soon, and Instagram Reels still has room to discover innovative features. 

Instagram Reels and TikTok can coexist — all you need is fresh and unique content that will capture your audience for each platform.

With all my love and happy vibes 💛

Roslyn Foo

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