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The Key Differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok

Michael Waters
July 27, 2022
Since Instagram rolled out its Reels last year, social media managers have raced to leverage Reels with TikTok. Instagram designed their new feature, Reels, to
Image from behance.com

Instagram Reels & TikTok Take Social Media Marketing by Storm

Since Instagram rolled out its Reels last year, social media managers have raced to leverage Reels with TikTok. 

Instagram designed their new feature, Reels, to replicate the success of TikTok shortly after TikTok took the U.S.—and the business world—by storm.

While Instagram is still the favorite of big brands for social media marketing, TikTok is catching up: TikTok recently claimed that 70% of the top 500 brands have business accounts on its platform. 

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: Key Differences

Although the apps share a look and feel, Reels and TikTok are not interchangeable. For brands to decide how to take advantage of each platform, they need to understand the key differences.

TikTok Is Better Suited to New Brands With Small—or No—Pre-existing Followings

A clear difference between each social media platform is how their algorithm works. It's evident once you see how the Instagram Reels "Explore Page" behaves differently from TikTok's "For You Page."

The Instagram Reels algorithm puts more weight on follower count than the TikTok algorithm. In September, a researcher for the social management platform, Hootsuite, set this to the test.

She found that when she posted nearly identical videos to blank TikTok and Reels accounts—each with no following—TikTok significantly outperformed. On TikTok, the videos racked up about 450 views each. On Reels, they got anywhere from 0 to 3 views.

TikTok Attracts a Younger Audience

Let's take a closer look at the demographics of TikTok users and Instagram users. A report from Forrester concluded that 63% of 12 to 17-year-old Americans use TikTok every week, slightly above the 57% that use Instagram weekly.

While the core TikTok target audience is people in their teens and twenties (Gen Z and younger Millennials), Instagram is more established among a user base with a broader age range.

Explore our collection of successful TikTok e-commerce marketing campaigns.

Don't Post Recycled TikToks to Reels

TikTok offers more functionality and more sophisticated in-app video editing tools. For example, you can record your voiceover, use your original sound effects, or even access TikTok's deep sound library.

However, Instagram Reels hasn't kept secret that it doesn't want users reposting TikTok content onto its platform. Its algorithm significantly deprioritizes any outside content while giving boosts instead to videos created and edited within Instagram.

TikTok Videos Can Go On Longer

For brands and content creators that want the flexibility to be a little more verbose, their better option is TikTok.

This summer, TikTok pushed its video length cap up to 3 minutes, whereas Reels still limits users to a 1-minute maximum.

This increase gives TikTok creators and influencers an advantage, especially if they produce more extended types of content like tutorials.  

A Free Guide on How to Launch Ads on TikTok

Reels Videos Are More Shareable

While TikTok is strictly an app for short-form video content, Reels users have more of an option to syndicate their social media content on Instagram. 

Brands can choose between limiting a video to the Reels tabs, adding it to an Instagram Story, and even cross-posting their Reel to Facebook.

Sharing Tip: Don't forget to use hashtags on your Instagram posts. It makes your content easier to find.

Want to Run Ads? TikTok Is Going to Cost You

Many brands now insist that ads on TikTok have much higher conversion rates than ads on any other social platform, and TikTok charges accordingly.

The average TikTok ad costs $5.03 for every 1,000 people it reaches, well above the same ad on Reels price: $2.60.

Reels Allows Longer Comments

TikTok has a rich commenting culture. Because of this, brands from all industries are rushing to add clever one-liners beneath viral TikTok videos.

This encourages more user interactions and increases brands' engagement rates. But brands using  TikTok comments have to keep it short: TikTok imposes a strict limit of 150 characters per comment. 

A Tireless Solution That Supports Your Social Platforms

Don't let those restrictions sound intimidating; Chatdesk can help you manage customer service in the comment section on TikTok and Reels. Brands like Thinx trust Chatdesk Teams to reply to customer inquiries in the comments and help to drive conversions.

Chatdesk Teams can provide 24/7 support for your TikTok and Instagram accounts. Schedule a demo to see how Chatdesk Teams can support all your customer engagements on TikTok and Instagram Reels.

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