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March 12, 2021 Last updated on June 22nd, 2021
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So, should you be using Instagram Reels or TikTok?

If you are a marketer, influencer, blogger, or, let’s say, a journalist, it won’t come as a surprise that social media is actively used not only for fun. Product promotion or advertisements moved to those platforms a long time ago.

Additionally, to all previous content placements that have been proposed, there is one more. On the 5th of August, a brother of TikTok saw the light of day. As Instagram’s parent company, Facebook released its very own competitor for the wildly popular short-form video app. Instagram Reels presents a new approach to share short clips of up to 15 seconds (currently testing 30 seconds!) within the Instagram app.

Of course, Reels’ launching wasn’t a surprise after TikTok became so popular. It was a kind of response from Facebook as it is the most downloaded app from the app stores. And there are now over 800 million users from all over the world. Besides, the demographic of it has started to change. If the audience of TikTok used to conclude of Generation Z users mostly, now the number of Millennials is increasing. So, it was evident that Instagram made far-sighted forecasts.

A lot of money, time, and production has always been necessary for video content creation. However, social media, which have been designed for short videos, allow to avoid so many efforts and create modern and relevant marketing and business content inside the application. Because they are easy to make, they’re also quick to use as viewers can discover you and your brand without spending a lot of money and time.

Marketers and users have discussed the characteristics, functionality, parallels, and differences, and today I’m going to help you make a decision: Instagram Reels or TikTok? Of course, it is not surprising that Facebook will try to replicate TikTok’s options and use Instagram for its early presentation. But we are sure that you can take advantage of both platforms. So, let us guide you through the video’s social media leaders, their features, and differences.

Video duration

There is a difference between these two apps, which play an essential role for brands, influencers, and marketers. Instagram Reels provide an opportunity for users to create a short video for up to 15 seconds (30 seconds for some lucky Beta testers!), while on TikTok, you can upload 60 seconds clips.

At first, it is a small difference; however, users quickly noticed that inconvenience. If you want to share more, Reel’s time standards may not be enough and it could feel limiting. But as Instagram Reels is in the first stages of its evolution, we hope to use all feedback and soon reconsider video length.

Editing features

There is no considerable difference in video editing tools, be it Reels or TikTok, but the last one is quite better on it. Many popular filters on TikTok allow users to check out a massive collection of templates and effects.  Additionally, there are many fun voice instruments and effects that will modify your simple voiceover.

On Reels, such a library is less significant, and video effects there are more limited. Before clip creation, clients can only pick special filters from the Instagram Effects collection, and they cannot do any modifications with their simple voiceover.  It is only beginning for Reels, so they could add any features that users will require.

Analytics

One more field for improvement for Instagram Reels is analytics options. There are not many insights about this as users can only check numbers of likes, comments, and views. However, you can have access to all of TikTok’s analytics if you have a Pro Account. Analytics of audience and content let you see your target people and easily discover their requirements and interests.

Besides, on TikTok, one can check if a video becomes viral and where the specific traffic channel came from. You can also see what Sounds your audience listened to. So, you can choose what music background to use next time.

Music possibilities

One of the major noticeable differences is the music feature. On TikTok, users get access to all huge TikTok’s Sound collection. It is an excellent platform for those who would like to popularize their music products. As soon as any song becomes a viral background for videos among a huge number of users, it can be a hit. Everyone starts to search for it and add that song to all possible playlists. Instagram Reels is still without music features, and if you need to create some video with a background song, you have to do it and edit it elsewhere and then upload it to Reels.

However, everyone is sure that this inconvenience will be fixed soon, as it could scare away new potential users and become the critical cons of Facebook’s “child.”

So, Reels or TikTok, are you getting closer to choosing?!

Content and audience 

For a long time, TikTok’s architecture was kept secret. But then it showed that the platform is very personalized to your pursuits, while the Instagram Reels tries to show only the right and the most popular content.

It’s become very convenient now because you can use targeting and for example offer the mechanic tool set to a person that makes some hand-craft or is fond of repairing cars. The other one can love fixing some house furniture or plumbing. And don’t forget those who use it not often, but from time to time – any ads must be targeted on the precise audience. 

Even though the content on both boards is analogous, their audiences are different. The content of TikTok targeted Gen Z’s audience, and their demographic differs from this of Instagram Reels’ (relatively younger). So, if you want to attract millennial users and distribute videos that will be associated with your personal style, you can give Instagram Reels a chance.

Paid advertising

TikTok offers paid advertising options, but their ads are not so popular among small businesses. They started to propose In-Feed Ads, Brand Takeovers, TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects.

On Instagram Reels, there is no paid ads option for brands and businesses for now. But it is still possible to cooperate with bloggers and creators regarding branded content development. Anyway, with Reels’ support, you can build an organic audience on Instagram, make your brand more noticeable for people, and expand your reach on the platform.

One more content placement

Now Instagram has many content placements, and it is a huge advantage as it could provide options for different forms of content. Posts, Stories, Live, IGTV, and new Reels can perfectly attract more and more users to your account and expand your audience.

Like IGTV before, Instagram Reels now has its own Explore tab within the app. On TikTok, there is a similar “For You” page, which highlights clips that the platform finds relevant for users.

If you have avid followers aware of Instagram Reels, you should think about using it to reach a new crowd, especially if your content proved valuable on Instagram. Therefore, if you’ve only used Instagram before, processed photos and posted them, now is the time to start processing videos and engaging them through TikTok or Reels.  But still, you can choose to keep your horses and wait until Reels functionality improves since it is a newcomer on the market, and there are many sides for improvement.

Giving some functional drawbacks, Instagram Reels have shown some elements and possibilities for businesses that are not seen on TikTok yet:

1.   The primary benefit of Instagram Reels is that it is an option on a platform that most brands and creative businesses already use. Their audience is already there, and the reach is noted. It is a new and interesting platform for businesses and brands that will help to engage the audience in a new way.

2.   Instagram Reels is already linked to your primary Instagram account. That is why you can keep all your existing and new content on the same platform. And when your content becomes viral on TikTok, it is a great result, but Reels give you complex benefits. If your content from Instagram Reel is in the trends, your profile could be introduced to thousands of potential followers. And if you have Instagram Shop, then new customers are a great bonus, right?

3.   Users stay on TikTok for a long time because of viewing an endless stream of videos formed by a unique algorithm. But after you have seen enough, you leave the app. But Instagram presents many different options to interact. A follower can leave the Reels and continue to watch Stories or check and scroll down their news feeds by reviewing more social media content.

4.   Reels provide you an ideal visibility potential. TikTok lets you add to the description like 150 characters in total, while on Reels, you can write 2,200 characters and 30 Instagram hashtags. Not a bad opportunity, right? In that way, you get huge space to write interesting and engaging supportive texts with your hashtags. It could provide you with the incredible capability of placing your content in front of a wider audience.

5.   Reels content has a longer life compared to Stories. On Reels, you can create lots of different clips and have them on hand to post as part of your content distribution strategy. Because reels are permanent, the chances of your content being discovered in that feed are far higher.

6.   Reels provide easy sharing options and functionality. You can share your reels to your story and be indicated as the creator. Also, users can share reels to their stories. That could allow you to reach a wider crowd and new audiences much quicker.

7.   TikTok is already an established platform, and it could be hard to become viral in an unlimited number of videos, while Reels is something new, and you can provide an impact on its style as an early user.

Of course, it is hard to compete with TikTok. It has only existed for three years, but it has already become trendy among Gen Z. The primary benefit is the ability to create engaging content that targets the next generation of social media users. And “the next generation” one day will become “nowadays generation,” and all of them will be with a TikTok past, so this platform has a considerable benefit in the future. But if Facebook can repeat the success of Instagram Stories with their Reels, it will create a powerful competitor for TikTok and slow down its growth. 

To win the competition, these two platforms always try to develop something new. The last announcement was about shopping options that Instagram Reels is trying to launch. It is because of some activities from TikTok’s side, which is currently cooperating with Shopify to build an integration to offer something similar. But anyway, those features give Reels nice points in this competition.

That is why, actually, Tik Tok has introduced a new platform called “TikTok for Business”. To grow stronger on the market, the app is also offering a new e-learning center that should help marketers take the best skills inside the “Tik Tok for Business” option. Instead of a completely new feature,  “Tik Tok For Business” organizes the app’s business offerings under one roof.

Conclusion

Businesses who are serious about their growth should leverage the top platforms. And the best way to do this is by creating and jumping on new trends. Use those platforms that will be perfect for you according to your audience and marketing goals. If you are looking to reach millennial consumers, grow your followings and buffer up your Instagram strategy, Instagram Reels is a perfect place. And if you’re looking to reach a Gen Z audience, there is no better platform than TikTok.

Take into account all differences and features that could be useful for you. Of course, TikTok is already a popular and established platform. And there’s still a long way to go to ensure Instagram Reels offers everything you need to reach your audience in a way that can make a result in sales. However, by adding some features in analytics, music, and video’s duration side, Reels will continue to encourage people to use Instagram in a whole new way.

It is obvious that Instagram and TikTok have their pros and cons. Which platform you choose depends on your audience, brand, and marketing goals. But it doesn’t hurt to test your content on both platforms and see which performs better. So, think – why not both?

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