TikTok vs. Instagram Reels: The Newest Way to Share Short-Form Videos

Instagram recently released a new, short-form video feature, Reels, which allows users to create 15-second videos and post them to their Feed, Stories, and the new Reels tab. Sound familiar? Of course, it does. Consumer and media chatter point back to the North Star: TikTok.

As one of the fastest growing social media platforms, TikTok also allows users to create short videos to share with their followers. With 800 million active users worldwide, Gen-Z will tell you that the hype is real. (And it is mostly Gen-Z doing the telling. Recent data shows that almost 62% of users are under the age of 30.) The app’s ability to capture attention and provide instant, catchy entertainment through choreographed dances and in-platform challenges is unparalleled.

Brands caught onto this as they began to build awareness with TikTok audiences that hadn’t been a part of their 2020 marketing plan. This unexpected avenue for increased engagement allowed various brands, like the NBA, to start using the platform as a tool to build audience engagement. Leveraging players’ testimonials, behind-the-scenes content and sports highlights, the NBA profits daily from their more than 11 million followers and almost 250 million likes on TikTok.

So, what does this mean for Reels?

Well, Reels’ timing is uncanny. Its release came strategically on the heels of President Trump’s threat to ban TikTok from operating in the United States due to privacy concerns. While TikTok users are unsure of the fate of their beloved platform, some brands are using this as an opportunity to pivot and leverage the presence of existing audiences already engaged with their Instagram channels.

The One-Stop-Shop for Social Content

Instagram has capitalized on their comprehensive digital platform by consistently integrating new functions and features that are uniquely positioned to beat the competition. While beating the competition has sometimes looked like replicating the competition, it has done so successfully. Take the Stories feature as an example. When Instagram launched the My Story feature in 2017, Snapchat saw its lowest percentage growth quarter since the app’s inception. Why? Well, I can theorize. Snapchat’s two main features were direct image messaging and (you guessed it) “Stories.” But Instagram was already established as a much more popular app and was able to capture the attention of existing users and new users by integrating similar features. Cue the creation of Instagram Stories, which gained 150 million daily users in less than 6 months; for comparison, it had previously taken Snapchat almost four quarters to gain the same number.

So, the introduction of Reels as a short-form feature for Instagram now means that brands have a profile that enables static content sharing on their Feed, video sharing on Stories, IGTV and Reels, the success of using brand influencers, shopping features in-platform, and the chance to grow reach with over 1 billion active users daily.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Why does this matter for your brand? Let’s look at the demographics of users for each platform. This might help us to understand who each of the apps is targeting and why that is important for you.

Instagram has 110 million users in the U.S., with 34% of its global users between the ages of 25-34, and 31% of its users between the ages of 18-24. Its audience skews toward women, who make up 65% of their base. So, if your target audience is predominantly female and millennial, you can likely reach them on Instagram, currently the leading app in influencer marketing efforts.

As of 2020, TikTok users age 10-19 make up 32.5% of TikTok’s user base, and 29.5% of users fall between the ages of 20-29. For brands that are eager to engage a younger audience, TikTok is likely to be a more worthwhile pursuit. As far as gender distribution goes, 55.6% of the app’s users are male and 44.4% are female.

Now Might Be the Best Time to Start

By now it should be obvious that Instagram Reels and TikTok have similar app features and functions. TikTok’s simplicity and ease of use have made it a 2020 sensation. But its limited, short-form content capabilities may have to level-up to stand the test of time as Instagram’s decade-long reign continues to revolutionize how users share multimedia content.

At the end of the day, your brand can leverage either platform to grow your business. But first, consider what’s best for your content marketing plan and target audience – and give short-form video a try.