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TikTok Vs Instagram Reels: What's the Difference?

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Instagram’s latest video implementation, Instagram Reels, is strikingly similar to TikTok, with users being able to share and record videos on a musical background.

These similar characteristics of the two platforms had us wondering – Are there any differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok?

The answers is yes! From editing tools and demographics to the reasons why some accounts don’t have access to music on Instagram we’re breaking down the top 7 differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok!


The differentiating factors between Instagram Reels and TikTok.


  1. Video Length

  2. Music Options for Business Accounts

  3. Video editing tools

  4. Algorithm

  5. Paid advertising and E-commerce

  6. Demographics and Content

  7. Analytics


With TikTok’s rise in popularity, Instagram decided to directly compete by introducing Instagram Reels – a new way for users to record 15 to 30-second videos with musical background.

While this video feature is relatively new for Instagram, it isn’t new to the social media industry! – Remember Vine?


Both Instagram and TikTok have their differences – which platform you choose depends on your audience, brand and marketing goals.


Right then! So, what is the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok? Let’s get into it.



#1 Video Length


On TikTok, users can record videos up to 60 seconds, whilst on Instagram Reels, users can record videos up to 30 seconds.


This doesn’t seem like a big difference, but users have found the extra video recording time very useful when creating and publishing their content. While longer content may work better, you can still be creative on Reels.


As for now, Instagram Reels is still in its early stages, we predict they might release a longer video option in the future.


#2 Music Options for Business Accounts


One main difference between the two platforms is the music feature. Currently, on Instagram Reels, many business profiles are unable to access Instagram’s music feature, which can be frustrating in some instances.

This means if you do own a business account and would like to share a Reel with music, you have to create your own audio or film and edit it outside of Instagram.

Instagram has yet to confirm if business accounts will be getting access to the music feature anytime soon.


If you are looking to use music for your videos, TikTok may be the way to go. Users have access to a big sound library on the app itself, which is very important on a platform where sound matters.


#3 Video Editing Tools and Features


While both Reels and TikTok editing interfaces look fairly similar, they have different functionalities from one another.

On TikTok, filters are very popular – users can chose from a number of effects, templates and filters

While both Reels and TikTok editing interfaces look fairly similar, they have different

On Instagram, video effects are more limited – users can only select effects form the Instagram Effects library before they record each clip.

Some other fun editing tools on TikTok are voice effects and voiceover tools. While on Instagram users can record a voiceover on Instagram Reels, they can’t add any special effects to the audio.


#4 Algorithm


TikTok’s algorithm has always been quite confusing until TikTok finally revealed their secret. The TikTok “For You” Pages (FYP) is customised to your interest, whilst Instagram Reels Explore Page is a big pot of content.

TikTok’s system recommends content by ranking videos based on several factors such as:


User Interaction: videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you posts and content you create.

Video Information: this might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.

Device and accounts settings: like your language preference, country setting, and device type.


And it goes even further!


Each of these factors are individually weighted by TikTok’s “For You” recommendation system, meaning that each individual page will be tailored made to a user and their level of interest.


As for Instagram Reel, algorithm, it’s not as obvious as TikTok’s, for now. It’s unclear whether the content you’re being served on the Instagram Reels Explore page is based on location, interest, content you interact or who you follow.

According to Instagram’s guideline, “If your Reel is feature in Explore, you will receive a notification. Feature reels are a selection of public reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you”.

There is not further information on why or how Instagram selects the featured content.


But, if your Reel does become featured, there’s a very high change your video (and profile) could go viral!


Just like on TikTok, consistency is key on Instagram Reels, the more your post, the more likely your content will show up on the Explore Page.

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Right, so what are the differences between going viral on Instagram Reels or TikTok? While going viral on TikTok is a great opportunity, Instagram Reels is already connected to your Instagram account.


If you do use Instagram for your business, you likely have an Instagram Shop, story highlights, a feel full of content, and so much more. If your Reel goes viral, you are basically showcasing your profile to thousands of potential customers.


#5 Paid Advertising and E-commerce


While ads on TikTok aren’t as common for small businesses on the other platform, they do actually offer paid advertising options.

TikTok currently offers In-Feed Ads, Brand Takeovers, TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects.


For now, brands and businesses can’t release any paid ads on Instagram Reels, but they can work with creators and influencers to create branded content.


#6 Demographics and Content


While both platforms offer similar type of content, the demographic on TikTok seems to lean on the younger side compared to Instagram Reels.


Brands, businesses, and influencers are more selective on Reels and share more on-brand and aesthetically pleasing content.


That’s not really the case on TikTok – users don’t care as much about their feed looking a certain way.

If you’re looking to reach a millennial audience and share videos that look ‘good’ and align with you Instagram aesthetic, Reels is your you. If you’re looking to hop onto viral trends and reach a younger Gen Z audience, you may have more success on TikTok.


#7 Analytics


TIkTo’s built-in audience and content analytics allows you to understand what your audience are interested in and target your content accordingly.

Even better? You can see when (and if) your videos was trending and where the specific traffic sources came from. TikTok also shows you Sounds your followers listened to, which can help you decide what Sounds to use next for your content.


Instagram Reels is more barebones, you can only see the number of views, likes and comments.

So, there you have it!


7 main differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok.

If you’re still undecisive which to use, we recommend trying both! It doesn’t hurt testing your content on both platform and see which performs better.


Since the layouts are similar on both platforms you can always share the same video on each platform at the time and see what happens.

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