Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: Which Is the Better Platform for Brand Marketing?

Video content is among the sure-fire ways to capture people’s attention and stop them from scrolling. Today, vertical videos in bite-sized lengths make it easier for your followers to stay engaged from beginning to end. With 89% of marketers set to strengthen their marketing strategy with short-form video content, video-sharing platforms like Instagram Reels and TikTok are set to optimize their channels for content creators and brands.

In the race to improve video marketing, which platform works best for you? In this article, we will compare the features, functions, and target demographic of Instagram Reels and TikTok.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok:

What Are Instagram Reels?

Photo and video-sharing platform Instagram rolled out Instagram Reels in August 2020. This new addition to Instagram’s features allows users to share short-form video content. In essence, an Instagram Reel is a vertical video anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds long. Users can stitch together video clips, add filters, and set the reel to music from the app’s music library.



Instagram Reels offers users the creative space to publish refined content. It also promotes engagement as it can appear on Instagram’s Explore page. Reels are designed to widen your audience reach and establish your identity to the public. On the other hand, Instagram Stories, another well-loved in-app feature, limits audience interaction through direct messages.  

Reels vs. Stories: How Are They Different?

Instagram Reels and Stories can look similar, but they serve different functions. Stories are great for sharing quick real-time updates, while reels are the perfect medium to share your filmmaking abilities.



Length: Instagram Reels typically has 15- to 60-second-long video clips. Meanwhile, each story post can be 15 seconds long, but it is designed to let you add multiple 15-second clips throughout the day.

Content format: Instagram Stories lets you post static photos and video clips and share posts from the native Instagram feed. Instagram Reels, on the other hand, has exclusively video content. If you want to share a photo collage in video form, you can opt to share it in a slide video presentation.

Audio: Instagram Reels relies on music to complete the video clip. Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels gives you access to Instagram’s music and audio library. You can also make your own audio track and publish it for other Instagram users to repurpose in their reels.

Impressions and engagement: Users can like Instagram Reels and leave comments, whereas Instagram Stories limits your followers’ reactions, comments, and even the number of views.

Captions: Similar to posts on the native Instagram feed, you can add captions and relevant hashtags when sharing an Instagram Reel. Instagram Stories doesn’t make use of captions. You can add hashtags, but these don’t have a direct impact on increasing your stories’ reach.

Visibility: Your reels are designed to expand your interactions within the Instagram community and entertain the possibility of going viral. Reels are discoverable in the Explore tab of the platform. Stories aren’t discoverable, but they strengthen brand awareness and trust among your established audience. 

Lifespan: Instagram Stories is notorious for feeding off people’s FOMO (fear of missing out). A story only lasts for 24 hours. Meanwhile, reels stay up for as long as you want. You can access Instagram Reels in a separate Reels tab on your profile.

Cross-posting: You can share Instagram Reels to the Reels tab, your native Instagram feed, and even add the reels to your Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories functions more like an archive where you can share your and other people’s posts, stories, and reels.

By optimizing its features for vertical video content, Instagram proves how powerful videos are in engaging the audience, establishing partnership and collaborative potential, and driving sales. Latest Instagram Reels statistics show that Instagram Reels earns more engagement by 22% compared to video posts shared on the native feed.

Learn more about creating and publishing Instagram Reels in our detailed guide. Together with carousels, IGTV content, and regular photo and video posts on the Instagram grid, businesses and creators can add Instagram Reels to their marketing strategy and expand their audience reach.

What Is TikTok?

TikTok is a social networking platform focused on sharing vertical video content. Formerly, a popular lip-syncing application, TikTok exploded into a video-sharing application where a billion monthly users can join trends (among which is lip-syncing), and share various one- to three-minute-long videos, such as bite-sized educational content, ASMR vlogs, and mind-blowing life hacks.

@sidneyraz years and years of realization right here #inmy30s #towel ♬ original sound - sidneyraz

When the world was forced into lockdown in March 2020, people turned to social media to connect and entertain themselves. TikTok was among the social media applications that surged in popularity, becoming the most popular app for iOS and Android devices in the years 2020 and 2021. TikTok’s For You page operates on an advanced algorithm that studies the user’s activity on the platform to suggest videos that will particularly pique their interest.

With TikTok’s success in vertical short video content, other social networking platforms began debuting their own iterations of vertical videos. Instagram launched Instagram Reels, and YouTube rolled out YouTube Shorts not long after. 

Despite the majority of TikTok content being informal and far from professional film content, the exponential growth and engagement within the platform entice brands from various industries to join the community. TikTok creators with a massive following and personable content get offers from brand ambassador or affiliate programs. In fact, TikTok led to the rise of indie musicians and visual creatives.

To master content creation for TikTok, head on to our beginner-friendly guide here where we can introduce you to TikTok’s basic functions. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok Features

Instagram Reels vs TikTok Differences & Features

Instagram Reels and TikTok focus on providing a platform for publishing vertical short video content. While they look similar at first glance, offering the same set of user functions and editing options, the two still have some striking differences. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: on Video Length

Both Instagram Reels and TikTok began supporting video uploads that are 15 seconds long. Today, Instagram Reels supports 60-second videos. Meanwhile, TikTok gradually extended video length support. TikTok first extended video length to a minute, and in July 2021, it rolled out another extension, supporting videos up to three minutes. As of February 2022, a video upload on TikTok can be up to 10 minutes long.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: on Voice Effects, Video and Face Filters

Due to its origins as a lip-syncing platform, TikTok provides a range of effects and filters for users to spice up their videos. TikTok also picked up on certain video editing trends and challenges, adding these effects to its massive library for a more convenient video editing and publishing experience. 

Instagram Reels also offers a selection of video filters, but Instagram only added voice filters in 2021.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: on Text-to-Speech and Closed Captions

Applications are streamlining their functions to be accessible and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities (PWD). Instagram Reels launched text-to-speech together with their voice filters in 2021. 

TikTok, however, has long supported text-to-speech for easy narration, with a variety of voice effects to choose from. TikTok creators also use closed or auto-generated captions to help the audience follow along with the dialogue.

Instagram Reels’ Remix vs. TikTok’s Duet

TikTok offers users to publish a video alongside another user’s original video upload with the Duet feature. Instagram Reels also provides a similar function with its Remix feature.

Instagram Reels’ Audio vs. TikTok’s Sound

TikTok is popular for amassing a huge collection of music and self-made Sounds. Users publish their videos’ sounds on to the music library for other people to use and incorporate in their videos. Audio on Instagram Reels is quite similar, but with a smaller collection of featured music and sounds.

TikTok’s Stitch

The Stitch feature on TikTok allows users to clip their videos to a part of another user’s upload. This is often used in sharing reactions, opinions, or doing a commentary on a video. Stitching TikToks makes it easier for the audience to access the original video. Instagram Reels has yet to launch a function that can compete with TikTok’s video-stitching option.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok Content

While Instagram Reels follows behind TikTok’s video marketing strategy, the content between these two platforms differs. Whereas TikTok is loud, causal, and mostly occupied by Gen Z, Instagram Reels tends to be more mature, calm, and aesthetically pleasing. 

Instagram users curate their grids for an aesthetically pleasing fit of their photo and video uploads, and it seems this practice carries over to Instagram Reels. Instagram Reels tends to be more refined and professional than most TikTok videos. 

Instagram Reels’ Explore Tab vs. TikTok’s For You Page

TikTok is known for serving accurate or near-accurate videos that match your interests. TikTok revealed that its algorithm considers factors such as the videos you first viewed, liked, or engaged within the comments section. The algorithm is complex, yet it does a good job in pulling up videos that particularly interest you, or are related to your interests on your For You page. 

Instagram Reels, on the other hand, has the opportunity to be featured in Instagram’s Explore tab. Instagram users don’t have any assurance when or how their reels can reach the Explore tab. The algorithm isn’t as structured compared to TikTok’s yet, but Instagram notifies you whenever your reel gets featured. 

Unlike TikTok, whose only form of content is video, Instagram caters to a range of media. It can be hard for the platform to optimize every photo and video feature, which can explain how your Explore tab is a mix of carousel posts, photo uploads, IGTV content, and reels. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: on Audience Reach and Engagement

Emerging TikTok influencers earned around 18% more engagement compared to other social media platforms. Instagram Reels statistically grew engagement rates within the app by 22%. However, Instagram’s overall engagement rate lags behind, with growing Instagram influencers only gaining 3.86%. TikTok’s easy content creation and sharing across platforms make it easier for individuals to establish their presence and gain a following.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: on Cross-posting and Video Downloads

You’ll know that a video came from TikTok with the signature TikTok watermark and the original uploader’s username. You can save TikTok videos on your phone with the in-app Save video option. Despite the watermarks that come with downloading the video, some TikTok content creators disable this option to prevent other accounts from reposting and monetizing their content.

Instagram Reels can be shared on your Instagram Stories, but the app doesn’t support a download feature for Instagram Reels. You can only save a reel within your profile, but it doesn’t let you download the reel to your device. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this if you want to repost your reels on other platforms. You can head on to our guide here where we can walk you through a step-by-step guide to downloading Instagram Reels.  

TikTok creators who also use Instagram Reels have the tendency to repost TikTok content onto their Instagram Reels. It didn’t take long for Instagram to announce it will not promote recycled content, convincing creators to approach both TikTok and Instagram Reels with specific content marketing strategies.

Which Platform Works Best?

Both Instagram Reels and TikTok focus on sharing vertical short video content, but which platform comes out at the top? 

If we’re talking about quick growth and trendy content, TikTok wins by a clear margin. However, Instagram Reels’ less saturated marketplace is also an opportunity to expand your presence across the Instagram community. Determining which platform works best also depends on where your target market is. Most millennials are well-acquainted with navigating Instagram, while Gen Z spends most of their time scrolling on TikTok.

Most businesses and content creators utilize both Instagram Reels and TikTok to leverage their engagement. The two platforms may be identical, but it’s clear that they serve different audiences. In maximizing your audience reach across Instagram Reels and TikTok, you can double the amount of your engagement and improve your discoverability. 

Instagram Reels and TikTok can coexist—all you need is fresh and unique content that will capture your audience for each platform. A good brand or content creator knows how to use different social media platforms to improve their reach and generate content that converts sales.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Instagram Reels replace TikTok?

Instagram Reels is actively rolling out new features and updates to better serve its users. TikTok, on the other hand, is streamlining its application to provide a better user experience and video upload quality. Both platforms are exhausting the latest technology to provide a more entertaining experience in sharing videos. TikTok isn’t going away anytime soon, and Instagram Reels still has room to discover innovative features.

How can people see my Instagram Reels?

Users who aren’t following you on Instagram can see your reels on Instagram’s Explore Tab. Your followers can also view your reels on the Reels tab in your profile. You can share your Instagram Reels on your Instagram Stories to increase your reach.

How do people on TikTok find my videos?

TikTok uses an advanced algorithm that pushes out content to a specific group of users that may find your content amusing or relatable. Your videos, regardless of the number of likes and views, get pushed on other people’s For You page.

How does Instagram penalize accounts reposting TikTok videos?

Instagram Reels with content originally from TikTok will not be promoted on the Explore tab. Your Instagram Reels becomes a low priority in Instagram’s algorithm, which may negatively affect your weekly interactions.

Why is TikTok extending video length?

TikTok is expanding its market and competing with YouTube, an established platform for short- and long-video content. With longer videos, TikTok can have a longer period of engagement and attract older audiences. 

About the Author
Geri Mileva, an experienced IP network engineer and distinguished writer at Influencer Marketing Hub, specializes in the realms of the Creator Economy, AI, blockchain, and the Metaverse. Her articles, featured in The Huffington Post, Ravishly, and various other respected newspapers and magazines, offer in-depth analysis and insights into these cutting-edge technology domains. Geri's technological background enriches her writing, providing a unique perspective that bridges complex technical concepts with accessible, engaging content for diverse audiences.