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Instagram Reels VS. TikTok: The Real Differences

Updated: Apr 30


Remember when TikTok first launched and became available on the app store in the U.S and how all the gen-z and millennials flooded the app with fun dances to popular music and sounds? Yeah, me too.


Well, so were competing tech giants who kept a close eye on this app as TikTok climbed the ranks of the most downloaded apps list in a manner of DAYS. Among them, Instagram was quick to realize that they needed to create something on their own platform that can compete with it… and so they did! Within a couple of months, Instagram announced they would be rolling out their newest feature, Instagram Reels.


As a business owner or solopreneur, you might be wondering which platform is better worth your focus for producing content. From the first look, it seems that both platforms do the same thing. But by taking a deeper dive, it becomes obvious that there are several key differences and that each comes with its own pros and cons.


Here’s a list of criteria you should consider in order to make the right decision about which platform is best for your investment:


Demographics:


TikTok's audience is a lot younger than Instagram’s. According to a recent blog post by Hootsuite, the 13-24-year-old segment reps 69% of the app’s user base. So naturally, if your business's target market is a bit older than this age range, TikTok might not be the ideal place for you.


In terms of Instagram Reels, there are in fact users of all ages that use the app multiple times per day. From minors all the way to users over 65 years old, there are users of all ages that are consuming all types of content, all day long.



Analytics:


To this day, marketers are STILL wondering why Instagram doesn't provide more insights on the performance of Reels. While it is known that Instagram encourages the usage of video content on their platform and that the algorithm does push Reels above any other type of content, content creators don’t know anything more in terms of performance of the Reels other than the number of views and the number of likes and comments it received.


As for TikTok, users have a full analytics section that gives creators all the data they need about their audience. From demographics to activity to the content your audience also engages with, TikTok analytics is a lot more robust than what Instagram offers.



Algorithm


As Instagram’s algorithm is getting a bit more difficult to work with and it is becoming harder and harder to get your content in front of your target audience (and even your own followers…), Reels is THE solution for maximizing reach. Why? It’s because the algorithm is programmed to favor users who use the newest tools available to them on the app and push their content to the top of the explore page and your followers’ feeds. So, if you want your reach to be maximized, create Reels that resonate with your audience. The algorithm will reward you simply because you ARE using Reels, and push your content to the explore page more often.


As for the TikTok algorithm, they do consider engagement as an important factor in their algorithm, but the MOST important factor is the completion rate. Therefore, you can have an enormous amount of likes, comments, and shares, but what REALLY counts is if your videos aren't engaging enough for users to watch until the end. This will impact how often the algorithm will show your content to users, regardless.



Time limit


If you have a quick message you want to share with your audience, TikTok gives you a couple more seconds to do that than Instagram. On Tiktok, you have up to 60 seconds to record, while on Instagram you only have half the time (15 - 30 seconds).


With all the information presented above, it’s time to pull out a pen and paper and figure out what exactly YOU need for your business, and choose your platform. Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself right now to help make a decision:


  • Who is my target market? Who do I want to reach? Where does this audience hang out more often?

  • What message do I want to convey in my content? Will it require more time or less time to convey that message?

  • How important is it to me to have access to the demographics of the content viewers? Would this help me develop a better strategy or would I rather do my own research?


So there you have it! If you have any questions about what your content strategy should look like for these platforms, feel free to send me a message!


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