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Choosing a Video Sharing Platform: Instagram Reels or TikTok?

Video content is here to stay in the marketing world — and the shorter the video, the better. Research shows that younger generations gravitate toward videos less than a minute long. Short form videos have a unique ability to connect with viewers because they encourage creators to quickly adapt to trends and culturally important moments. Shorter video spots are also appealing to creators because they are generally cheaper and easier to produce, giving brands more flexibility to test multiple iterations of marketing campaigns and gauge audience responses.

The two most popular short-form, video-driven social media platforms are TikTok and Instagram Reels. Both have user bases in the billions, and both platforms have become invaluable tools for brands to build brand awareness and educate consumers about their products. If your brand is interested in adding a new social media platform to its digital ecosystem, you might be wondering how to decide which platform will perform best for your business. Both platforms offer great benefits, and the decision to invest more heavily in one or the other may be a difficult one.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok

It might seem like these two video content marketing platforms are interchangeable, both because the differences between the two are subtle and the similarities are many. Both platforms offer users the opportunity to easily create, edit and post short-form videos, all while using integrated effects, sounds and filters—but they offer their own unique benefits as well. To give you a more holistic perspective of these popular video sharing platforms, let’s explore their six key differences in greater detail to help you better understand which platform would be a best-fit channel for your brand.

  1. Filters and visual effects. Short-form video is all about quick connection, and one of the quickest ways to grab your audience’s attention is with filters and visual effects. These aesthetic tools help your videos pop off the screen, and they also allow you to add trademarks to branded posts. TikTok offers more than 400 filters and effects, and many videos go viral on the platform because of the use of trending effects on video content. Instagram Reels offers a smaller selection of filters, but they allow more flexibility than TikTok when selecting an attention-grabbing thumbnail image for a video.
  1. Audio options. Another effective method of capturing viewers’ attention is through well-chosen audio bites. While Reels does offer a variety of audio options, its selection is limited due to copyright restrictions and pales in comparison to TikTok’s expansive audio library. Recent updates to Instagram Reels will include new text-to-speech and voice effect features, however. Because TikTok is a music-based platform, it includes more than 80,000 tracks, as well as an option for creators to make new sounds that can become new trends themselves.
  1. Video length. Producing video content that fits neatly within time constraints can be challenging, but it also makes space for creators to innovate and discover new ways of connecting with audiences. While both TikTok and Reels offer creators three video lengths of 15, 30 and 60-seconds and both platforms encourage creator collaboration, Tik Tok also allows for videos up to 10 minutes long. Both platforms encourage users to create snappy, simple messages to increase engagement and profile views. 
  1. Audience reach. Video content marketing that doesn’t reach your target audience just isn’t good marketing, so using the platform that will allow your videos to be regularly seen is crucial. The TikTok algorithm solidly outperforms Reels when pushing video content out into the world and enables creators of any size to get their content seen. The Instagram algorithm favors creators with larger followings, as well as creators who post frequently and consistently.
  1. Analytics capabilities. TikTok and Reels offer analytic insights for branded videos and ad campaigns. TikTok offers more in-depth insights into your audience, including overall profile tracking and individual video performance. Instagram offers Reels-specific insights which include metrics like number of plays, interactions, reach, likes, comments and saves.
  1. Paid advertising and sponsorships. With so many eyes on short-form videos, it’s only natural that advertisements would follow suit. TikTok offers creators the ability to include ads and sponsored content, an option that many influencers are taking advantage of. Instagram Reels does not feature ads but does offer creators the option to tag posts as sponsored content.

Which Video Sharing Platform Should I Use?

To help you decide between Instagram Reels or TikTok, LEAP Spark has created a quick list of if/then scenarios to help you decide which video content marketing platform is best for your brand:

  • If your target audience is teenagers or Gen Z and predominantly female, then you’re most likely to find your viewers on TikTok. An impressive 25% of TikTok’s user base is between the ages of 8-23.
  • If your target audience skews a bit older and lands within the 18-35 age range, and particularly if they are male, investing marketing energy into Instagram Reels will be your best fit. Millennials make up 62% of Reel’s monthly active users.
  • If your brand personality thrives on current trends or a fresh injection of humor, then you should focus your marketing efforts on TikTok. This platform thrives on unique, unpolished video content that quickly evokes emotions from its viewers.
  • If your brand is already a household name, then your video content would gain the most visibility on Reels. The Instagram algorithm prioritizes content from users with large followings, so brands that are already very well-known will have an easier time getting eyes on their video content.
  • If your brand partners with influencers to highlight your products or services, then posting videos on TikTok will work best for you. Influencers are already using the platform to put fresh spins on brand messaging and engage new audiences, and the Gen Z demographic of the platform responds well to influencer recommendations.
  • If your brand is most interested in educating your audience and setting your products apart from your competitors, then Reels will be a great fit. Instagram is known for polished, informational content that can help draw new consumers to your brand.
  • If your brand often creates original audio, catchy jingles, or enjoys replicating current trends, then pushing your content to TikTok is the way to go. TikTok favors and widely shares unique content and enables it to go viral quickly, even with a small follower base.
  • If your brand is searching for a new ecommerce hub, current data is split. Almost 40% of Gen Z gains product recommendations directly from TikTok video content, and the platform is rolling out shoppable ads and CRM integrations. However, Instagram Reels also offers shoppable posts, as well as their newest social commerce feature, Instagram Drops, which allows consumers to discover and purchase upcoming product releases within the Instagram Shopping tab.

LEAP Spark is a video production agency that knows how to navigate the ever-changing landscape of video content marketing. We offer subscription-model packages with a range of capabilities to fit your brand’s specific needs, including sizzle reels and social media posts and video exports. Take the next step in video content marketing for your brand and reach out to LEAP Spark today!

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