Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

reels vs tiktok

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Time to settle the debate about which one is better for brands … Instagram Reels or TikTok?
In our opinion, it’s not really a debate. It’s more of a “what’s right for your strategy” kind of situation. But they are distinct platforms and it’s important to know their differences. This way you can plan your influencer marketing strategy accordingly.


TikTok vs. Instagram Reels

Let’s tackle the epic TikTok vs. Instagram Reels battle in two parts: how they’re the same and how they’re different. First up, platform similarities 🥁🥁🥁


tiktok video      instagram reels


Both platforms deliver innovative tools to help creators make interesting and engaging videos. This way users can watch and create quick bursts of video content for hours on end. 

  • Short-form video
  • Video duets, remixes, effects, and filters
  • Audio and sound libraries


Reels and TikTok empower users to follow, like, comment, and share. High engagement like this builds strong online communities. Plus, engagement also encourages creators to keep making valuable content.

  • Easy to discover new content and creators
  • Users spend about the same amount of time on either app
  • Infinite scrolling

Social commerce

Shoppers discover new products and complete the customer journey without leaving either app. These immersive experiences encourage shoppers to connect with new brands. They also inspire shoppers to keep connecting with brands they already know and love.

  • Post shoppable content
  • Empower users to make in-app purchases
  • Seamless shopping experiences

tiktok shopping    instagram shopping


It’s easy to see why brands and marketers lump TikTok and Reels into the same category. But in reality, they’re quite different and it’s important to know when to use one vs. the other.

Video length

Before TikTok’s recent update, both platforms limited video length. But now, TikTok lets creators film up to 10 minutes at a time. So if you want or need to post longer content, make sure you’re on TikTok.

  • TikTok: Up to 10 minutes
  • Reels: Up to 60 seconds

Paid ads

Native in-app ads mimic the look and feel of organic video content. Plus, they pop up naturally in feeds as users scroll. And even though TikTok allows longer spots, both apps require “Sponsored” tags for ads.

  • TikTok: In-feed ads last up to 60 seconds
  • Reels: In-feed ads last up to 30 seconds

tiktok shopping    instagram shopping

Did you notice that TikTok ads feel less polished than
IG Reels ads? ☝️


Both platforms let you search content by audio or sound. But TikTok has a more robust in-app library for business accounts.

  • TikTok: Sounds are available to every account (personal or business)
  • Reels: Business accounts are limited to royalty-free music and self-uploaded clips

Effects and filters

Users are free to get creative with tons of in-app filters and video effects. This is why both platforms are home to visually interesting content but there’s a catch:

  • TikTok: Apply filters during and after filming
  • Reels: Apply filters during filming

In-app editing

Reels and TikTok have solid collections of editing tools for creators. But if you want to hop on the voiceover bandwagon, TikTok has an in-app tool just for you.

  • TikTok: Voiceover and more robust selection of editing tools
  • Reels: Decent selection of editing tools


The way users discover content differs between the two platforms as well. IG Reels takes view counts into consideration, and TikTok’s algorithm doesn’t. One isn’t “better” than the other, they’re just different ways of prioritizing content.

  • TikTok: Not influenced by whether a video is viral
  • Reels: Influenced by whether a video is viral


Possibly the biggest differentiating factor of all — the content. Just a few minutes on both apps shows that there are two totally different vibes going on. TikTok is like a best friend, and Reels is like a polished expert.

  • TikTok: Less polished and more experimental
  • Reels: Aesthetics-forward and more curated


Reels and TikTok empower creators and brands to learn from account insights. But if you want to go back further in time, Reels is what you want.

Social commerce

Reels is the real MVP when it comes to social commerce and while it’s still a must-have, TikTok is catching up.

  • TikTok: Shoppable links, livestream shopping, product galleries,  and third-party integrations
  • Reels: Shoppable videos and third-party integrations

Should you use TikTok or Instagram Reels for your business?

In reality, you should use both TikTok and Reels for your business. Just make sure you use each platform differently and in a way that makes sense for your brand. And there are two things to consider when trying to decide which one to use in the moment:

Target audience

In a nutshell, Gen Z is on TikTok and Millennials are on Reels. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any Millennials on TikTok because there are. But overall, TikTok has a younger audience than Instagram:

  • Nearly half of TikTok users are less than 29 years old
  • A quarter of TikTok users are between 10 and 19
  • Just over half of Instagram users are between 25 and 44
  • More than a third of Instagram users are between 25 and 34

Source: Statista


If you have a highly-curated brand or an ultra-specific aesthetic in mind, Reels is where you want to be. Reels stays true to IG’s grid-worthy content that’s polished, unified, and elevated.
But if your brand is less focused on aesthetics and more on fast-paced trends, head over to TikTok. TikTokers aren’t as preoccupied with how their feeds look — instead, it’s all about what’s happening right now.


Final thoughts on Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

Reels and TikTok have a lot in common, but they’re very different beasts. It’s important to understand how they’re different so you can make the best choice for your brand. But remember, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s all about knowing which platform to use and when. Here’s a quick recap ICYMI:

  • Reels is just as aesthetics-forward as the rest of Instagram (polished content)
  • TikTok is more focused on content trends than aesthetics (experimental content)
  • If you want to reach Gen Z, post on TikTok
  • If you want to reach Millennials, post on Reels
  • Incorporate both platforms into your influencer marketing strategy

Ready to get your hands on more hot influencer marketing tips? Check out our community resources for more info, guides, and updates.


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