TikTok and Instagram Reels

TikTok and Instagram Reels: Differences and Functionality

Have you scrolled through social media lately and wondered, Where am I? Prior to reels, experiences across popular social media platforms were more distinct, but with so many types of videos from Pinterest to TikTok to Instagram, users are left, well, reeling. 

Marketers experience even more reel problems deciding how to budget content and what content to create. How long, and what content will make the biggest impact for the right platform.

As social media marketing strategists and industry leaders, we want to help you understand the differences and functions between TikTok and Instagram Reels. 

From their similarities for users and creators to their differences for marketers and brands. We hope to offer solutions to real reel amnesia. 

Timing is Everything 

TikTok started with 15 second reels of video, then increased to 60 seconds, then to 3  minutes, and this spring started offering up to 10 minutes. These changes come to meet the creator’s demand for more time for things like makeup demos, cooking demos, educational content, and sketches. Instagram on the other hand, limits reels to 60 seconds.

According to some influencing creators, ideas are tested on TikTok first, prior to appearing on Instagram, where they may be deemed “grid worthy”. Time also plays a part in the road map of these platforms. TikTok continually extending the length of videos makes it more of a competitor of Youtube than Instagram. 

Marketers should be paying close attention to these moves that TikTok is making towards the Youtube audiences and consider strategising content that appeals to TikTok and Youtube, rather than creating short videos for TikTok and Instagram. 

Fun-ction and Creation

Functionally, there are some big differences between TikTok and Instagram. The editing capabilities differ between Instagram Reels and TikTok. TikTok has voice-over and voice effects for all users and a variety of filters. Instagram has a much more limited capability for editing content. Business accounts have less access to music on Instagram than creators. Much of the editing for Instagram has to be off-platform. The effects of the editing happening off-platform, and often professionally, is that Instagram Reels is more carefully curated and TikTok is more spontaneous. It is possible that these are some of the reasons you see more younger generations on TikTok, or generations who also are not interested in filters but interested in connecting with audiences with similar interests. This is a hot tip for marketers who are looking to target audiences on TikTok, you really do not have to overproduce content for it to make an impact, in fact less could be more. 

Ads and Algorithms in TikTok and Instagram Reels 

How do you connect with other audiences with similar interests as a creator and as a marketer on Instagram Reels and TikTok? This is where the algorithms come in. Until recently, TikTok did not offer information as to how the algorithm worked. Recently they revealed that the TikTok For You page is tailored to a users interests, where Instagram Explore page is not. If you create more reels, and engage on the Explore page on Instagram Reels, then your Reels are more specifically tailored. 

When social media platforms talk about things being “tailored”, it is referring to preferences that are tracked and recorded. Like Spotify, TikTok users’ likes, engagement times, and their preferences are recorded and then content is suggested to meet their interests. Instagram is not as developed in this way. This in turn, makes a big difference how marketers and advertisers are able to spend and target audiences. 

Advertising on Reels is traditional with advertisements with placements, while TikTok is taking a different approach towards more social selling. TikTok announced its collaboration with Shopify for In-feed shoppable video advertising on TikTok. Retailers are granted access and sell products on TikTok and all shopping, ad programming, and content creation can be done on the Shopify platform.  For marketers who have been looking for more ways to sell socially, B2C, this is it. 

The Real Reel 

From creating to editing to monetising, Instagram and TikTok are traveling similar but different paths. Instagram is moving at a decidedly slower and more traditional clip where users still value grid placement and are cautious at posting, and where advertisers and marketers should practice more caution in posting as well. TikTok travels much faster.  Despite the longer videos, content is more raw, with younger audiences, and audiences are more forgiving because there is transparency, and it is tested before putting on Instagram. 

For marketers looking for real strategies for TikTok, consider a strategy that takes advantage of the social selling on TikTok with the Shopify integration, and their movements towards an experience like Youtube. Expect to be spending more time on the Instagram reel than the TikTok and seek out influencer partnerships who understand how to leverage social selling and unsponsored seeming clips. If you want real advice, for reels, contact The Social Element. 

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