Since TikTok’s rise in popularity from 2019 to 2020, its competitor, Instagram, released a similar new video feature called Reels. This striking similarity between the 2 platforms begs the question for many marketers who use social media to promote their brand: Is there a difference between these two? Which platform should I use for my brand?
We covered our thoughts on Instagram Reels back in April upon its release but plenty of changes have been made on the platform since then! By looking in-depth at the platforms’ differences, it allows marketers and brands to decide which app will serve them more effectively in achieving their marketing goals. So, let’s look into it!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IG REELS AND TIKTOK
1. Video Length & Editing Features
As both platforms are based on the same idea, users in TikTok are able to record videos for up to 3 minutes, whereas IG Reels only allows for up to 60 seconds max. Similarly, with their video features, TikTok offers a wider range of filters, effects, and music or sounds, whereas IG Reels is more limited to the already existing filter and music library from their IG Story feature. Regardless of the difference, the options that are currently available on each platform are fitting to their unique types of content and audience. For example, the features on TikTok enable more creative and comedic content, whilst on IG Reels, result in a more aesthetically pleasing and cleaner content.
The demographics of the two platforms are also slightly different. According to a number of studies, the largest percentage of Instagram users are between the ages of 25-34 years of age, with the second-largest being between 18-24 years of age. Additionally, over half of the audience on Instagram is female. With TikTok, however, the users skew towards a slightly younger audience than Instagram. The majority of TikTok users are between 15-24 years old and the rest are between 25-44 years old. With TikTok having a user base largely made up of Gen Z and young Millennials, their audience is also majority female. Given the varying demographics between the two platforms, this gives you a guide to decide where you would like to focus your content.
3. Algorithm, Content Visibility & Engagement
The algorithm behind IG Reels is still unknown and results in a pool of unlimited content. However, it seems that Instagram picks up on the types of content you’ve “liked” and skews your algorithm to expose you to the same content. TikTok, on the other hand, specifically caters and designs your ‘For You’ page or FYP which is unique and users will see a lot of content from people they don’t know. TikTok’s FYP is based and crafted by a variety of factors like user interactions, video information, or even your device/account settings.
TikTok has the unique ability to drive organic engagement and visibility particularly amongst users with small followings. With TikTok, it is all about virality, the influencer you would like to engage with doesn’t necessarily need a high number of followers for their content to go viral or have a higher engagement. On the other hand, Reels has the advantage of being built on Instagram, meaning a stronger presence from brand pages and an already captive audience can already increase visibility and engagement.
Nevertheless, it is still difficult to make a direct comparison. For this instance, there are so many figures out there on engagement rates for both platforms. However, studies found that for influencers’ organic content, the engagement rates on TikTok surpassed those on Instagram Reels whilst branded content or branded pages, Instagram Reels outperformed TikTok. This could most likely be due to the preexisting follower base on Instagram. All in all, despite the varying algorithms, engagement rates, and even the number of followers, posting on either platform can be beneficial for brands and creators depending on their audience.
4. Price of Influencers
There are so many factors that affect price when engaging an influencer on either platform. For example, the number of reach/followers, engagement rate, type of content, brand industry, usage rights, exclusivity, and so on. Both IG Reels and TikTok are still pretty new to influencer marketing, so there’s no real neat and tidy way to determine how much it would cost for some brands. In some cases, influencers might charge the same rate for the same type of posts no matter the channel, but it’s much more likely that the rates will vary.
In general, the rates for both IG Reels and TikTok postings start from about RM1,000 per video posting. However, depending on the influencer, we have found that the rates for TikTok postings are currently 50% higher than IG Reels posting. This could be due to the fact that Reels is an integrated content creation tool on Instagram that syncs perfectly with the other features that influencers are already familiar with, for example, Stories and IGTV. In contrast with TikTok, brand adoption for some influencers is slow, as it is still new, and requires more effort and attention hence why it can be slightly more expensive.
Regardless of the difference in rates, it is still quite dependent on the factors mentioned. After all, each social media platform has a different audience type and creator resources. Keep in mind that each influencer is different, their performance on either platform would vary too. The way they engage with their audience on either Instagram or TikTok is something to take note of, so check with your desired influencer to see if the kind of engagement or partnership you’re looking for can meet your brand’s marketing objectives.
WHICH PLATFORM IS BEST FOR YOUR BRAND?: THE PROS AND CONS
Given the varying features, demographics, price, and algorithms between the two platforms, it is important to take this into account to decide where you would like your content to appear. This is to ensure that it would meet your marketing objectives and the content reaches your target audience.
1. Reach & Discoverability
✓ IG REELS: Instagram is known to have a higher number of monthly active users than on TikTok. This means that engagement rates, likes, comments, and shares of your content, posts, and brand presence are also high on Instagram. If you’re looking to increase your brand presence and engagement, IG Reels has the potential to help you build an organic community on the platform, better connect people to your brand, and expand your reach.
✗ CONS: Even though the reach on Instagram is astounding, IG Reels is still quite new. It’s very likely that not all influencers that are popular on TikTok will have started using it yet, so there might be less competition to appear and reach new audiences on Instagram’s Explore page as compared with TikTok’s FYP. Additionally, with all the other entertaining features Instagram offers (eg. Story, IGTV, Photo), users could potentially experience a content overload and switch over to simpler platforms like TikTok.
✓ TIKTOK: It is known that TikTok’s strength has been the ability for a video to go viral even when an influencer doesn’t have many followers, thanks to the nature of the For You page. Users are definitely more invested in the type of content influencers would curate on the app. This would mean that if your brand would like to use TikTok to market, the key thing to focus on is getting your influencers to create content that fits the trends and remains practical and entertaining.
✗ CONS: Unfortunately, since TikTok is made for authentic raw content it can be potentially brand-damaging. The algorithm could also show your content to the wrong audience and it can quickly go viral for all the wrong reasons. Therefore, it’s important to know your brand image and voice to assess whether it is suitable on a platform like TikTok. Alternatively, you can opt for paid ads that are better controlled with targeting.
2. Target Audience
✓ IG REELS: If your audience is primarily made up of consumers in the 20-35 years age bracket, you may want to focus more on IG Reels. Additionally, Instagram comments and direct messaging within the app have allowed for a brand’s community to foster. Direct messaging if managed well, can result in an increase in sales and comments and it can also increase your engagement and brand trust.
✓ TIKTOK: If your audience is primarily made up of the 16-25 years age bracket (Teens and the Gen Zs), TikTok is likely to work well. Additionally, TikTok will also help reach new markets and consumers who display an interest in your brand. TikTok will deliver the content to whomever they think will enjoy the content. Many aspects are taken into consideration, but it can be a lot easier for TikTok to essentially find the audience you are looking for or help you explore a new one.
3. Ads & Boosting
✓ TIKTOK: TikTok includes both advertisements and sponsored content where it currently offers In-Feed Ads, Brand Takeovers, TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects. With this, TikTok users will frequently return to these tags or use the branded effects to review new content on trends they currently care about. This is a very innovative way to engage with your audience and harness their participation.
✗ CONS: Advertising on TikTok can be costly, especially if you want to create a branded hashtag challenge or a brand takeover. This can cost up to USD50,000 a day.
✓ IG REELS: Instagram has also recently launched Reels ads on the platform. These ads will help brands and creators reach greater audiences, allowing people to discover inspiring new content from brands and creators. Instagram advertising has been around for a while so, the interface is streamlined and simple to use.
✗ CONS: If you’re constantly bombarding the audience with sponsored content, most likely the audience will be put off.
SO, WHO WINS? IG REELS OR TIKTOK?
When deciding whether TikTok or IG Reels is more beneficial for your brand, there are various factors you need to consider: existing follower base, target audience demographics, and the type of content you want to produce. Both TikTok and Instagram Reels provide benefits and drawbacks but, it is up to the brand to determine which of the two they will use. However, by taking advantage of these two platforms, users can capitalize on the unique benefits that TikTok and Reels have to offer.
Our recommendation: Cross-Posting
Cross-posting is essential to reach your audience where they are and increase impressions on your content along the way. Since the idea and format of both TikTok and IG Reels are similar and influencers’ followings may overlap, cross-posting can be tremendously valuable. Each platform holds unique value so exploring and using both platforms to your advantage is highly recommended. Even if it means putting the same content on both platforms, it will eventually help you find out what works for each, and how your audience engages with it.
Beyond this, the most important thing is to be creative and innovative. Social media is constantly changing, so be ready to adapt and figure out what works best.