TikTok and Reels: similarities and differences

Based on AgCom data, it is impossible not to notice the growth that TikTok has had following the 2020 lockdown: in one year, in Italy alone, the number of active users has increased by 593%.

Just in the summer of 2020, Instagram, probably feeling threatened, launched the Reels. This new type of content is in fact very similar to the style of the videos present on the rival app.

Many think that the two tools are the same: actually, in both cases, they are short videos, in 9:16 format, which can be skipped by simply swiping up. In reality, just like the applications in which they are found, they have substantial differences in terms of duration, creation, algorithm and audience that benefits from them.

# 1 Duration of videos

The maximum duration that TikTok has for its videos is 3 minutes, while Instagram, with the latest update, has extended the limit from 30 to 60 seconds.

The reason why the two applications were pushed to lengthen the time of the videos is not yet clear, given that this kind of content was born with the idea of being easily and quickly accessible by users who, in general on both social networks , they don’t have a high attention.

# 2 Content

Despite being videos, the contents differ in some respects.

First of all the aesthetics: while IG seems to be a more refined platform which therefore provides more studied and curated contents, TikTok has an “unsightly” aspect so the videos are mainly home-made, simple and spontaneous.

Also on Instagram, lifestyle and fashion videos reign; only recently have tutorials and fun content depopulated. Ballets have always worked on TikTok; in the last period, however, the roads have opened to other topics such as cooking, finance, philosophy and psychology.

# 3 Target

Instagram’s audience is completely different from TikTok’s.

Assuming that Instagram is a platform that contains various functions (post – stories – direct – reel), it is able to address an audience that is not only wider but also potentially more professional. In fact, Instagram has 57% of users in the range between 25 and 30 years, the rest is divided between the 18-24 and 30-49 ranges.

TikTok instead is completely aimed at Generation Z, therefore to the whole slice of the population ranging from 13 to 24. Unfortunately, this type of target created considerable problems for TikTok, as it was also used by small children who ended up in deadly traps hidden behind “games”. Fortunately the app has made some changes regarding its use.

# 4 Account and content usability

To view everything on Instagram it is mandatory to have an account. To access the Reels you must also click in a dedicated section.

On TikTok, on the other hand, you don’t need to have a personal account to see the contents: in fact, as soon as you open the application you are in front of the videos.

# 5 Music

On IG still not everyone can access the trendiest music: for copyright issues, business accounts have access to the royalty-free music library. Unfortunately it is a real limitation for many profiles.

To recognize an audio trend it is important to look for an arrow pointing upwards next to the song title.

One advantage of TikTok is its free music library for everyone to use on the platform. Another positive detail is TikTok Analytics which allows you to see the sounds most used by your followers.

# 6 Effects and filters

On both applications you can edit videos: cut them, edit them and add audio.

On TikTok, however, there seem to be more complete functions to customize your video. In fact, on this app you can use multiple effects and filters, applicable even after recording the video.

On the other hand, the Reels are different: unfortunately the filters and effects are not separate so you can only choose one on the screen that must be selected before filming.

Following the line of TikTok, Instagram has included the “duet” function which, to distinguish itself, it has called “remix”. The latest news of IG is the possibility to create a video based on one already published on the social network.

# 7 Algorithm

The algorithm is the system that defines what to show or not to a particular user following very precise parameters.

On TikTok the algorithm is able to better understand what to propose based on the interests of users at a given moment. The “for you” section shows content relating to a theme that the app believes you will like. As soon as you lose interest in that particular topic, TikTok is immediately ready to propose new topics also and above all from unknown profiles.

The Instagram algorithm, on the other hand, is not so fast in learning the themes most related to a particular user. Unfortunately, sometimes he closes an account in a “bubble” always proposing the same contents created by the profile he already follows and the discovery of new themes is more difficult.

So, between the Reels and the TikToks, who is the best?

There is no definitive answer.

Everyone has their own tastes and people are noticeably divided into two large groups: those who remained loyal to Instagram and those who got carried away by the novelty of TikTok.

In conclusion, between various copies and new functions always coming out, it is difficult to define which of the two applications is actually the best. Surely both tools are, to date, an excellent method for those who want to grow online. So our advice is: don’t be afraid and launch, create and share your Reels and / or TikToks!

Article by Rebecca Nisi.