Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Which Is Better for 2023 Video Marketing?

April 17, 2023

Video is hot right now, and I know many small business owners are eager to dive in. Last time, I covered the ‘what,’ sharing 10 video marketing ideas you can try. Today let’s tackle the ‘where.’

One of the questions I have been getting recently is whether small businesses should use Instagram Reels or TikTok. There is no simple answer to this question, so I’ll share everything I can to help you make an informed decision in this article.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok – let’s go!

What Are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a dynamic and engaging feature on the popular social media platform Instagram. Introduced in August 2020, Reels has become a hit among users and a valuable tool for businesses, brands, and creators. Reels allows users to create short, 15-90 second videos accompanied by music, voiceovers, and various visual effects. These snackable videos can be shared on the user’s feed, Stories, and the dedicated Reels tab on their profile. With the Explore tab, users can also discover new Reels from accounts they may not follow, which provides a fantastic opportunity for content creators and brands to expand their reach and grow their audience.

Why Use Instagram Reels?

There are several reasons to incorporate Instagram Reels into your social media strategy. Firstly, it provides a new way to connect with your audience and showcase your brand’s personality. Instagram Reels can help you create authentic, engaging content that resonates with your target audience and encourages interaction.

Secondly, Instagram Reels can significantly boost your reach on the platform. Due to the algorithm favoring Reels content, this feature is an excellent opportunity for brands and creators to increase their visibility, drive traffic to their profile, and potentially gain new followers.

Lastly, Instagram Reels can help you stay ahead of the competition. As more businesses and creators adopt this feature, keeping up with the latest trends and maintaining a strong presence on the platform to stay relevant and competitive is crucial.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a rapidly growing social media platform that has overtaken the world. Launched in September 2016, it allows users to create, edit, and share videos (15 seconds to 10 minutes long) with various effects, filters, and soundtracks. The platform is known for its user-friendly interface, entertaining content, and immense creative potential. TikTok has become a hub for influencers, creators, and brands, enabling them to engage with a vast, global audience.

With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has positioned itself as a key player in the social media landscape. The platform’s unique algorithm is designed to showcase content from diverse creators, providing an equal opportunity for anyone to go viral. This level playing field has made TikTok an attractive option for businesses and brands looking to expand their reach and connect with new audiences.

Why Use TikTok?

There are several compelling reasons for businesses and brands to consider using TikTok. Firstly, the platform’s massive, global audience offers a unique opportunity to reach and engage with a broad range of users, particularly Gen Z and millennials. TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content based on user preferences, making it easier for brands to target specific demographics and interests.

Secondly, TikTok’s short-form video format allows for creative and versatile storytelling. Brands can showcase their products, services, and company culture in an entertaining and engaging manner, boosting brand awareness and fostering a strong community.

Finally, TikTok’s diverse advertising options, including branded hashtags, in-feed ads, and branded effects, enable businesses to natively and organically promote content, blending seamlessly with user-generated content.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Similarities

While TikTok and Instagram Reels are two distinct platforms, they share several similarities that make them both attractive options for brands looking to engage their audience through short-form video content. Understanding these similarities can help you decide which platform aligns best with your brand’s goals and objectives.

Video Format: TikTok and Instagram Reels allow users to create and share short-form video content to capture users’ attention and promote creativity.
Music Library and Audio Features: Both platforms offer extensive libraries of popular songs and audio clips that users can incorporate into their videos. 
Editing Tools and Visual Effects: TikTok and Instagram Reels provide users with various editing tools and visual effects to enhance their videos. These features include filters, text overlays, stickers, and transitions, enabling creators to produce high-quality, engaging content.
Algorithm-Driven Content Discovery: Both platforms utilize algorithm-driven content discovery, meaning users are shown content tailored to their interests and preferences. This personalized approach to content discovery helps brands reach a more targeted audience and increases the chances of going viral.
Hashtags: TikTok and Instagram Reels use hashtags to categorize content and increase discoverability. Brands can use relevant and trending hashtags to boost the visibility of their content and attract a wider audience.
Challenges and Trends: Participating in popular challenges and trends is a key aspect of both TikTok and Instagram Reels. Brands can join in on these trends or create branded challenges to engage with their audience and boost brand awareness.

Ultimately, TikTok and Instagram Reels share many similarities that make them both viable options for brands looking to incorporate short-form video content into their marketing strategies. 

Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Differences

While TikTok and Instagram Reels share several similarities, they also have some key differences that can impact your decision when choosing the best platform for your small business. By understanding these differences, you can make a more informed decision and develop a strategy that aligns with your brand’s objectives.

Video Length: The video length is the most distinguishing feature between the two platforms. While TikTok started with 15-second videos, it increased the maximum length to 10 minutes in 2022. Meanwhile, Reels are capped at 90 seconds.
Platform Ecosystem: Instagram Reels is part of the larger Instagram platform, allowing users to seamlessly navigate between Reels, posts, Stories, and IGTV. TikTok, on the other hand, is a standalone platform focused solely on short-form video content.
Audience Demographics: TikTok tends to skew towards a younger demographic, with a significant portion of its users being Gen Z. In fact, 25% of users are between 10-19. Meanwhile, Instagram is popular among Millennials; 31.2% of users are between 25-34.
Content Style: While both platforms promote creativity and viral trends, the content style on TikTok is often more informal, spontaneous, and authentic. Instagram Reels, in contrast, leans towards polished and visually appealing content, in line with Instagram’s aesthetic.
Advertising Opportunities: TikTok offers various advertising options, including in-feed ads, branded effects, and sponsored hashtag challenges. On the other hand, Instagram Reels introduced the option to boost Reels in 2022, allowing businesses to promote their Reels content to a wider audience. 
Video Discoverability: TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content discovery, making it easier for users to find new content and creators. Instagram Reels also uses an algorithm for content discovery, but it may not be as effective as TikTok’s due to the diverse range of content formats available on Instagram.

Should Small Businesses Use Instagram Reels or TikTok?

As a small business owner, you may wonder whether TikTok or Instagram Reels is the better choice for your brand. Both platforms have unique features and advantages that can help you reach and engage with your target audience. When deciding which platform to use, consider the following factors:

Existing Social Media Presence: If your small business already has a strong presence on Instagram, using Instagram Reels may be a more convenient option, as it allows you to manage all your content within one platform. However, if you’re starting from scratch or looking to expand your social media presence, TikTok can be attractive due to its massive user base and content discovery algorithm.
Target Audience: Consider the demographics of your target audience when choosing between TikTok and Instagram Reels. TikTok’s user base skews younger. Instagram Reels, being part of the broader Instagram platform, has a more diverse age range.
Content Style: TikTok content is often characterized by its authenticity, spontaneity, and humor. If your small business aims to create more casual and relatable content, TikTok may be the right platform for you. On the other hand, Instagram Reels leans towards more polished and visually appealing content. If your brand is focused on creating high-quality, aesthetically pleasing content, Instagram Reels may be a better fit.
Advertising Opportunities: TikTok and Instagram Reels offer different advertising options for small businesses. If you buy ads, you’ll want to review your options to choose the one that best aligns with your marketing goals and budget.
Time and Resources: While you may want to try both TikTok and Instagram, it’s important to remember that managing multiple social media platforms can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Assess the capacity of your small business to create and manage content on both platforms or whether it would be more beneficial to focus on one platform.

The Importance of a Social Media Selling Strategy

So, there you have it – Instagram Reels vs TikTok! Ultimately, the decision to use TikTok or Instagram Reels will depend on your small business’s unique goals, target audience, and content strategy. Considering these factors and investing time and resources in the platform that best aligns with your brand’s objectives is essential. 

However, your choice of social media platforms and content should ultimately be part of a larger social media selling strategy. Too many small business owners waste time and money diving in without a plan. To learn the latest strategies and techniques to bring in your ideal audience and convert them into raving fans through social media, I invite you to take my 6-week Social Media Selling online course. We cover social media goals, campaigns, platforms, content, ads, and more! It would be my honor to teach you what you need to know to make your small business flourish using social media.


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