Comparing TikTok vs. Instagram Reels: Which Platform Should Businesses Choose?

Thảo Vũ

Video is an incredibly effective way to capture user attention, especially short vertical videos. With 89% of marketers planning to use short-form video content in their campaigns, platforms like Instagram Reels and TikTok are optimized for content creators and brands. In this article, we’ll compare the features, functionalities, and target demographics of Instagram Reels and TikTok. This information will help businesses make informed choices and achieve effective results.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to share short-form vertical videos. In 2018, a popular lip-syncing app globally, merged with TikTok to create a massive video-sharing platform with over 1 billion users.

TikTok gained widespread popularity in 2020 and 2021 during the social distancing period following the pandemic. It was one of the apps that witnessed significant growth during this time. TikTok’s For You Page utilizes an advanced algorithm to study user behavior within the app, suggesting content tailored to their interests.

What is TikTok?

The success of TikTok with its short-form vertical videos prompted other social media platforms to launch similar video features. Instagram and YouTube followed suit, introducing Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, respectively.

While TikTok content primarily consists of everyday unscripted videos without professional filming techniques, the platform’s exponential growth and engagement levels have attracted brands from various industries to join the community. TikTok creators with large followings and relatable content receive numerous collaboration opportunities from brand ambassador programs and affiliate programs.

Key Takeaways:

  • TikTok is a social media platform for sharing short-form vertical videos.
  • The platform gained immense popularity during the pandemic.
  • TikTok’s success has influenced other social media platforms to introduce similar video features.
  • The platform attracts brands due to its large user base and high engagement levels.
  • TikTok creators with substantial followings receive collaboration opportunities from brands.

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram, the popular social media platform for sharing moments in the form of videos and images, launched Instagram Reels in August 2020. This new feature allows users to share short-form videos ranging from 15 to 60 seconds in length. Users can combine video clips, add filters, and set music for their reels from the app’s music library.

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels provides a creative space for users and fosters engagement as Instagram will suggest reels to users on the Explore page. Reels are designed to expand audience reach and boost public recognition.

Key Features:

  • Short-form videos: Reels allow users to create and share engaging video content in a concise format.
  • Creative tools: Users can access various editing tools to enhance their reels with filters, transitions, and text effects.
  • Music library: A vast collection of music tracks is available within the app to add soundtracks to reels.
  • Explore page: Reels have the potential to reach a wider audience through the Explore page, increasing visibility and engagement.

Benefits for Users:

  • Express creativity: Reels provide a platform for users to express their creativity and share unique content.
  • Expand reach: Reels can help users expand their audience and connect with new followers.
  • Engage with followers: Reels offer an engaging way to interact with existing followers and attract new ones.
  • Explore opportunities: Reels can open up opportunities for collaboration with brands and influencers.

Overall, Instagram Reels has emerged as a powerful tool for creative expression, audience engagement, and brand promotion within the Instagram ecosystem.

Different from TikTok and Reels

Video Length

TikTok stands out for its flexibility in video length, allowing users to create content ranging from bite-sized 15-second clips to more in-depth narratives of up to 10 minutes. This versatility caters to a broader range of content formats, from dance challenges and pranks to tutorials and vlogs.

In contrast, Instagram Reels maintains a shorter video length limit of 90 seconds. This constraint encourages creators to focus on concise, impactful content that quickly grabs the audience’s attention. Reels’ emphasis on brevity aligns well with the fast-paced nature of Instagram’s feed.

Editing Tools

Both TikTok and Instagram Reels provide a suite of editing tools to enhance video production. However, the range and sophistication of these tools vary between the platforms.

TikTok boasts a more extensive collection of editing features, including trendy effects, green screen capabilities, voice enhancement tools, and the ability to seamlessly integrate GIFs. This arsenal of creative tools empowers users to produce visually appealing and engaging content that resonates with the platform’s audience.

While Instagram Reels offers essential editing tools such as filters, text overlays, and speed adjustments, it may not match TikTok’s level of trend-driven effects and advanced editing capabilities.

Content Style

The style of content that thrives on each platform reflects their distinct user bases and overall vibe.

Instagram Reels aligns with Instagram’s focus on aesthetics and curated visual experiences. Reels content often revolves around lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel, emphasizing high production value and visually appealing elements. This aligns well with Instagram’s established reputation as a platform for showcasing visually stunning content.

TikTok, on the other hand, embraces a more relaxed and unfiltered approach to content. Users are encouraged to express themselves authentically, with a focus on creativity, humor, and entertainment. This trend-driven platform fosters a diverse range of content, from dance challenges and lip-syncing to educational tutorials and comedic skits.

Tiktok vs Reels
TikTok vs Reels

Audience Demographics

The demographics of each platform’s user base play a significant role in shaping the type of content that resonates best.

TikTok has a strong presence among younger generations, particularly Gen Z, with a reported 25% of its users falling within the 10-19 age bracket. This youthful demographic contributes to the platform’s emphasis on trends, challenges, and lighthearted content.

Instagram Reels, on the other hand, has a broader user base spanning across various age groups. While it still attracts a significant portion of younger users, its integration with Instagram’s existing audience exposes it to a wider range of demographics. This diversity is reflected in the wider variety of content styles found on Reels.


TikTok’s optimized “For You” page, tailored to user preferences, drives higher engagement rates compared to Instagram Reels. However, this doesn’t imply Reels is ineffective.

TikTok thrives on user-generated content, while Instagram Reels excels in boosting brand awareness and reach. TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes engagement, while Instagram’s remains somewhat enigmatic. Users can discover content on the Explore page, but its alignment with user interests is less certain.

Conversely, compelling evidence suggests Instagram emphasizes Reels in the newsfeed to promote the format, a strategic move to challenge TikTok’s dominance.


TikTok advertising isn’t as widely distributed as Reels, possibly due to higher TikTok ad costs. Additionally, TikTok ad options can be confusing for newcomers: In-Feed Ads, Brand Takeover, TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenge, Branded Effects – each with varying costs and goals.

Instagram Reels ads are simpler. They appear seamlessly within Reels in Explore, Stories, Feed, and the Reels Tab.


In music selection, TikTok undoubtedly outshines Instagram. Many businesses face music copyright issues when creating Instagram Reels. Moreover, Instagram’s music library pales in comparison to TikTok. TikTok offers a broader range of sounds and fewer copyright restrictions.

By constantly updating its library with user-uploaded sounds, TikTok empowers users to create viral content and stay on top of trends.


As Reels and TikTok compete, they continue adding features that enable businesses to gather valuable insights into their video performance.

Instagram Reels Insights provides a dashboard where creators can find and analyze crucial data to understand Reels performance. Key metrics like Plays, Reach, Likes, Comments, Saves, and Shares are displayed. Additionally, creators can access audience demographic insights, including gender, age, location, and more.

TikTok offers similar data on video and creator performance. It displays core metrics like follower growth, video views, profile views, likes, comments, and shares.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Platform

The decision between Reels and TikTok ultimately depends on the content creator’s goals, target audience, and preferred style of expression.

For those seeking to create visually polished content that aligns with current trends and appeals to a younger demographic, TikTok offers a dynamic and engaging platform.

On the other hand, creators who value a broader audience, appreciate a more curated aesthetic, and enjoy producing concise, impactful content may find Instagram Reels to be a more suitable choice.

Regardless of the platform chosen, understanding the unique characteristics of Reels and TikTok empowers content creators to make informed decisions, optimize their content strategies, and effectively engage their target audience.

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