Posted on Tue 10 Aug, 2021

Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Which Video App is Better?

The battle between Instagram Reels and TikTok is fairly new. 

TikTok was the #1 app in 2020 with more than 2.5 billion downloads all over the world, mainly used by Gen Z, but is now used by a variety of age groups. Following their success, Instagram launched Reels which offered a strikingly similar experience. 

The infinite scroll feature

TikTok pioneered the highly addictive infinite scroll feature that sucked the audience into scrolling through videos non-stop, and this feature is also applied to Reels. On TikTok, you will land on the For You Page (FYP) and on Reels, you will land on the Explore page. On these pages, the algorithm will serve you an unlimited number of videos — all selected to engage you. 

The more you engage with the videos, the more personalized your timeline will be. It’s part of the recipe that makes TikTok so addicting to its users. The full-screen experience makes it so easy for users to keep scrolling because they will always find related videos on their FYP. Plus, the full-screen features don’t show the mobile clock on the screen — ensuring that your attention will be fully focused on the content they provide. 

Main Differences between Reels & TikTok


Network-based vs Content-oriented

The main difference between Instagram and TikTok is that Instagram users see content posted by other users they know. While TikTok makes video suggestions to users based on other people's interests and on videos they have engaged with previously.


Data tracking and analytics

With TikTok, users get analytical data for each video they upload, whereas Instagram Reels doesn't offer analytics yet. The data and insights available to TikTok users enable them to know which videos are popular and what creative path to take. 


They can come up with better video concepts, know how to appeal to their target audience, and when to post their video to reach more audiences. Meanwhile, Instagram Reels hasn’t offered these features, so users have few options when it comes to the creative process.


Video length

Users of TikTok can record videos for up to 60 seconds, whereas users of Instagram Reels can record videos for up to 30 seconds. Your Instagram Reels may seem short depending on the content you post. TikTok's timestamp may work better for longer content, but you can still be creative on Reels. As Instagram Reels is still in its early stages, we predict that they’ll roll out a longer video option in the future.


Video Editing Tools and Features

Although the editing interfaces in Reels and TikTok may look alike, they are quite different.

On TikTok, filters are super popular — users can choose from a number of effects, templates, and filters. The video effects available on Instagram are more limited — users can only select effects from the Instagram Effects library before they film each video clip.


There are other major differences between the platform's video tools, such as TikTok's Duet, Reaction, and Stitch features. Using these features, brands and businesses can easily interact with community members and grow their reach even further. At the moment, Instagram Reels does not offer features like Duet or Stitch — users can only record their own footage or upload content from their camera roll.


Music Options for Business Accounts

Another difference between the two platforms is the music feature. Currently, on Instagram Reels, many business profiles are unable to access Instagram’s music feature. So, if you’re looking to use music for your videos, TikTok could be a better option.


On TikTok, users have access to all of TikTok’s Sound library — which is a huge deal on the platform where sound matters. Take, for instance, the trend of creating TikTok clips using Original Sound that can be shared by other users. The trend is fun, engaging, and a way to potentially go viral. 



TikTok’s "For You" Page (FYP) is very personalized to your interests, on the other hand, Instagram Reels Explore Page offers a variety of content. Meaning that each page in TikTok recommendation will be completely unique to a user and their level of interest.


As for the Instagram Reels algorithm, it’s not as clear-cut as TikTok just yet. There is no certain pattern on whether the content you are getting on the Instagram Reels Explore page is based on location, interest, who you’re following, or what content you’re interacting with.


Paid Advertising and E-commerce

TikTok advertisements are tailored to feeds, but Reels does not feature advertisements, which is a major advantage for its user base. The influencer still has the option to add a tag to a post indicating that the post is sponsored — which is more user-friendly.


Instagram recently introduced brand content tags, as a way for the social media platform to ensure creators clearly disclose when they're creating branded content, to increase transparency, and to make it easier for brands and creators to create, share, and amplify brand content. 


Those are the 7 main differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok that you should know. If you’re still unsure which platform is more suitable for you or your business, we recommend trying both! 


It doesn’t hurt to test your content on both platforms and see which performs better.

Share the same video on each platform at the same time and see what unfolds.

How to get on FYP & Explore Page

Every TikTok and Instagram Reels creator's goal should be to appear as frequently as possible on their audience’s feed — it's the best way to boost brand awareness and fan engagement. However, with so many people vying to be featured, how can you compete? 


Though there's no foolproof formula for getting your videos on TikTok and Instagram Reels, the tips below can increase your chances:


Figuring out the best time to post

With engagement being such a critical factor in getting onto TikTok For You Page (FYP) and Reels Explore page, posting at the right time can make or break your video’s success. You'll reach more people if you post at the right time. Unfortunately, there is not a universally perfect time to post — which is why you have to experiment and analyze your performance consistently. 


Use popular hashtags

In most TikTok For You Page or Reels videos, you'll notice hashtags in the description. This is because hashtags are one of the most effective ways to gain more viewers on both platforms.


Usually, there are two easy ways to find relevant hashtags: First, click the discover tab. You’ll see some of the top trending hashtags, conveniently curated by TikTok and Instagram, then search for the hashtags relevant to your topic. Be mindful of the hashtags you’re using, don’t overuse them. Be sure to use strategic, popular hashtags that are related to your content.


Provide quality videos

Do you still post grainy, low-quality videos? Perhaps that is the reason why you don't appear on the For You and Explore Page. TikTok and Instagram aren't going to push out low-definition, blurry, or grainy videos to the masses. At best, it could cause users to swipe away; at worst, people will close the app. 


In addition to the quality of your content, the platform also rewards editing skills. Experiment with filters, stickers, and transitions to make your videos more interesting and keep people watching (and hopefully rewatching) until the very end.


Share Engaging Content

The content of your videos matters. Not only should you be funny, unique, and show your personality, but you should put out relevant content on trending topics, dances, and music. You should leave your followers entertained and wanting more.


Incorporate Trends

You will need to research popular trends, as they change weekly. Both TikTok and Instagram users favor videos that are relevant. With a trending video, you have a greater chance of gaining momentum, becoming viral, and gaining more visibility.


You can find videos of creators attempting the latest trends on the For You and Explore page, some of which incorporate a song or video effect. You can use the app's Sounds page to see what's popular and use it to inspire your own content.


Although following the tips above won't guarantee you a spot on the TikTok For You and Instagram page, it can significantly increase your chances.


Need help applying these tips for your brand’s TikTok or Reels videos? Reach out to Idealights today!



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