Should You Be Using Tiktok or Instagram Reels?

Should You Be Using Tiktok or Instagram Reels?

Before 2020, comparing TikTok and Instagram was like comparing apples to oranges.

Sure, both were social media platforms, but TikTok focused solely on short-form video content, while Instagram was primarily a photo-sharing app with some video capabilities.

But with the introduction of Instagram Reels, that has all changed. Instagram saw how massively popular TikTok was and wanted in on the action. So, they have rolled out Reels and pushed them as the more favoured content type on the platform.

Now, content creators and marketers have two very similar platforms to share short-form video content on.

Although the two platforms may seem the same at first glance, there are some key differences – both in the target audience and how videos are created and shared.

If you’re having trouble deciding whether you should focus your marketing efforts on TikTok, Instagram Reels, or both, keep reading. We’ll explore the differences between the two to help you figure it out.




Comparing TikTok And Instagram Audiences

Before we get into the specific differences between Insta Reels and TikTok vids, it’s important to compare the platforms overall.

Before Instagram Reels was launched in early 2020, TikTok’s popularity was soaring. The platform became the #1 social media app in 2020 with more than 2.5 billion downloads. It had 800 million active monthly users and scored the highest social media engagement rates per post.

Fast forward a year, and the monopoly on that addictive short-form content is shifting. Social Media Today report that Reels get an average of 1.2 million views, and TikTok is just slightly ahead at 1.92 million views.

However, TikTok is still miles ahead when it comes to engagement. TikTok vids get an average of 231,935 likes and 2,141 comments, while Reels trails behind at an average of 110,675 likes and 811 comments.

While there are crossovers between the audience for each, TikTok tends to attract a younger crowd. TikTok is most attractive to Gen Z and younger Millenials; 52% of TikTok users are under 30.

Instagram Reels attract a slightly more mature demographic: 49% of Instagram users are aged 25-44.


TikTok Videos vs Instagram Reels

The delivery and packaging of TikTok and Instagram Reels are similar. Both applications allow users to create up to 60-second video clips that can be set to audio or music. Various filters and effects can be applied.

In TikTok, this is the sole focus. Your profile and feed are filled with these videos. However, because Instagram started as a photo-sharing app and evolved to include stories and IGTV, Reels is just one option.

You can choose to share your Reels to the Explore feed, in your stories, and/or add them to your profile so they show up alongside your other visual content. Learn more about how to use Instagram reels here.

Let’s go over the key differences between the two.


Editing Features

When you create your videos in-app, you’ll find a few differences between TikTok and Instagram.

TikTok has more editing options and allows you to rearrange and edit your clips.

One thing TikTok offers that Instagram doesn’t is collaboration features. Duet, Reaction and Stitch allow you to create a reaction clip to someone else’s video, where both the original video and yours play side by side. This is great for collaborating and extending your reach.


Audio Features and Music

Currently, TikTok offers voiceover effects, and Instagram doesn’t. If you want to record a voiceover for your Reel, you’ll have to create it using editing software and upload it to Reels rather than create it in-app.

TikTok has an extensive music library accessible to everyone on the platform. You’ll find that trending videos are often based on songs or snippets of audio.

Instagram also has music, but because of copyright laws, a business account can only access royalty-free music.



Many TikTok trends are based around filters and video effects, and the platform has plenty of both to help you customise your videos.

Reels also provides filters and effects, but they are grouped together, so you can only choose one filter or effect at a time.

Another key difference is that on Instagram, you have to select the effect or filter before you start filming a Reel. On TikTok, you can do this process after if you prefer.


Captions and Comments

If you rely on lengthy captions to accompany or emphasise your content, Reels might be better for you than TikTok.

Whereas Instagram Reels have a caption limit of 2,200 characters, TikTok comments are capped at a limit of 100 characters, so they need to be short and catchy!

Commenting has similar limitations, with Instagram allowing for longer comments and conversations than you’ll find on TikTok.



Both platforms have options for paid advertising. However, because Instagram is owned and powered by Facebook, you’ll have better luck targeting your ads here than you will over at TikTok.

TikTok still has plenty of advertising opportunities, though, with in-feed ads, branded effects, top-view ads and more.



Because Reels are relatively new, Instagram doesn’t offer much in the way of in-depth analytics. You can see total plays and saves and very little else.

Conversely, TikTok has some great data to peruse. You can view total playtime, average watch time, audience location, and find out where people discovered your video.



The Instagram algorithm is notoriously tricky to nail, while TikTok’s is much easier to crack.

The TikTok algorithm works off user interactions, video information and account settings. The Reel algorithm is more concerned about what accounts you interact with most and what kind of content you usually engage with.

In a nutshell, TikTok suggests videos based on your interests and the videos you’ve engaged with previously, while Instagram tends to show you content posted by people in your network.

These differences mean it’s much easier to go viral on TikTok than on Reels.



TikTok and Instagram are both excellent vehicles for different reasons.

Because Instagram offers varied content types, such as photos, stories, lives, shopping, IGTV, and Reels, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with your audience and build your brand identity to keep your followers engaged. Check out these great Expert Tips On How to Use Instagram Reels to Reach New Followers.

TikTok may not have so many options, but it is a thriving platform with a highly enthusiastic and engaged community. While popular for influencers and entertainment, it’s still relatively new territory for brands and businesses, which means you’re likely to face less competition to be seen and heard.

To decide which platform is best for you, you need to get back to the basics. Who are your customers, and where do they spend time online? What are you hoping to achieve with your social media marketing – are you trying to reach a new audience or connect and engage more with your existing followers?

Whether you decide to focus on Instagram, try out TikTok, or put your energy into both, the most important thing is to show up consistently and authentically for your audience.

And, if you need help incorporating either of these platforms into your overall marketing strategy, then I can help. Let’s chat about how to maximise the brand building opportunities on these platforms.