Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: which is really more effective?

In a social media world increasingly focused on video creation, two platforms have stormed to the front of the pack: TikTok and Reels, a feature inside Instagram. At first glance, these two tools seem to have numerous similarities…but what makes each unique? Let’s break down the key differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok and which might potentially be more effective for your brand.


Before analyzing which platform your videos might perform better on, it’s essential to understand a few basic statistics that separate Instagram Reels from TikTok: 

Maximum Video Length Allowed 90 seconds 10 minutes
Average Caption Length Allowed 2200 characters 150 characters
Average Time Spent Daily per User 30 minutes 58 minutes
Largest User Age Group 25-34 years old 18-24 years old

Selecting a platform will depend on the video and audience you are trying to target. Having a longer maximum video length with TikTok could allow for more flexibility. However, make sure to remember that it can be difficult to hold users’ attention for more than a few minutes, if that. 


A “Trend Starter”

Video trends - in whatever form they may look like - usually originate on TikTok and then gradually make their way over to Instagram Reels, which can become redundant for those who are users of both platforms. This gives TikTok an edge in creativity and originality.


Extensive Video Editing Tools

There is no doubt that TikTok has far more tools for adding effects, closed captions, Duetting or Stitching your video with others, and much more. If you want a complete video editing package, TikTok might have it all. 


A Better Developed Algorithm

TikTok’s “For You” page is one of the reasons this app has performed so well over the last few years. The algorithm is impressively accurate regarding user interests and the videos shown on users’ For You pages. Thus, TikTok would likely be a very useful resource to help you reach your target audience quickly and effectively. 


Direct Connection to Facebook

Instagram Reels can automatically be shared to Facebook, boosting engagement by duplicating content across multiple apps if desired. Because TikTok is disaffiliated with the Meta group, it does not have this ability. With Facebook having the most number of active users of all social media platforms, reaching this audience could potentially be crucial. 


Feature Within a Successful App

Reels can be shared as Stories or placed in the main feed after being published. Instagram has a robust user base: countless users scroll on Instagram several times daily, and incorporating your Reel into the main Instagram feed will certainly increase exposure.


Focused on a Consistent Image

Instagram as a whole—and therefore Reels as well—has always been focused on creating aesthetic lifestyle content, and consistency is an important feature of that. Therefore, Reels is a great place for building a consistent brand image over time that will stick in users’ minds with the more you post.

The short answer is Instagram Reels and TikTok both have their respective strengths and shortcomings, and one doesn’t objectively outperform the other in every metric. Additionally, it’s important to note that there are other similar video platforms as well, such as YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight, for example. Nevertheless, the bottom line is this: both Instagram Reels and TikTok have immense success, and it would be in your best interest to capitalize on at least one of these platforms to promote your brand. 

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