Reels vs TikTok - What’s the Difference?

Roughly a 4 minute read by Emily

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Trying to decide between Instagram Reels vs. TikTok? You’re not alone.

Brands are going all-in on bite-sized video content right now with a massive 89% of marketers planning to increase their investment in short-form video this year (hootsuite). (Even Google is getting in on the Action with YouTube Shorts! But that’s for another post…)

There’s no denying the similarities between both platforms. After all, Reels was a direct result of TikTok’s growing popularity and you’ll often see the same pieces of content overlap across both channels. The Inky List, Starbucks and Apple are all guilty of sharing the same content across both because short videos are the perfect way to build brand awareness and educate customers without losing their attention (think snackable content!)

Here’s a quick rundown of what Reels and TikTok have in common:

  1. Both Reels and TikTok are prime places for fun, off-the-cuff videos. There’s arguably no better place to see brands flex their creativity and they’re a place to have fun and entertain - even if it’s product focussed you should always tie it in with a meme or trending funny sound.
  2. Both platforms allow users to easily attach sound effects, music, and audio snippets to any given piece of content. The look and feel matter for brands on both platforms. Visual effects, filters, snazzy transitions, and trendy sounds make your videos “pop” and allow you to put your trademark on what you post.
  3. Through Reels’ “Collab” option and TikTok’s “Duet”, accounts can interact side-by-side and create totally new pieces of content together. And brands can get on this too! As this is such a new space, and one that the channels are keen to increasingly monetize, there is a huge window of opportunity for marketers and advertisers. In fact, 81% of marketers are increasing their spending on TikTok. Brands like The Inky List have built an organic AND ad presence on TikTok that centres around skin care tips and explainer videos breaking down beauty product ingredients.
  4. In terms of performance tracking, they’re pretty similar. Increasingly so! TikTok analytics tracks both the overall profile and individual video performance. This includes big-picture metrics like total playtime, average watch time, and geolocation. While Instagram has introduced Reels-specific data to get specific insights. This covers metrics such as plays, interactions, reach, “likes”, comments, and saves.


But there are also some big differences between the two platforms too:

  1. TikTok now allows for videos up to 10 minutes long whereas Reels only offers three video lengths of 15, 30, and 60-seconds (3mins is coming soon we hear). Even with these expanded options on Tiktok, data says that creating shorter-form videos is better for both platforms and you’ll often see content saying Xs videos are trending!
  2. TikTok users have a wider selection of audio materials while Instagram business accounts are not allowed to use copyrighted music so the options are a little more limited at the moment.
  3. And, while both platforms are popular among younger audiences, TikTok is way more popular with Gen Z and teenagers whereas a wider audience of millennials and gen X can be found on Insta. Creatures of habit aren’t we. Another pro point for Insta is that your brand more than likely has an established presence on that platform, so your Reels will find your existing audience - no need to build a new one from scratch!

At Engage, we’re a fan of them both and rely on both to build awareness and generate engagement for our clients. Whilst most of our clients have seamlessly added Reels to their existing social media strategy on Instagram, TikTok is becoming the place to be to find those yonder audiences.

So what team are you on? Reels or Tiktok? Or do you prefer the classic long-form content?