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Instagram Reels vs. Tik Tok: What’s the difference?

Instagram Reels Vs. Tik Tok: What'S The Difference?

Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram launched Instagram Reels in August this year. No sooner had Reels been launched social media users began comparing it with another popular social media platform Tik Tok. And honestly, the comparisons were quite valid. Some Reels features may seem eerily similar to Tik Tok, however, there are some significant differences too.

First and foremost, let’s find out what exactly Instagram Reels is?

Unlike Tik Tok, Instagram Reels is not a platform in itself. In fact, it is a feature available on the social media platform Instagram.

Reels is a brand new way of creating fun and catchy video content. Instagram Reels is available in nearly 50 countries around the world, including the US and Canada.

Users can create 15-second video clips set to audio or music and share them on their Instagram stories, Feed, or the new Reels tab available on their profile. Almost half of the videos uploaded on Instagram are 15-seconds or less, which may have accounted for the decision to launch Reels.

If you want to record a Reels video, you can set the timer to record yourself. You may also use several filters, similar to what you can for your stories.

Instagram has partnered with quite a few music labels. Reels was created to keep these music labels in mind, so you have access to thousands of music clips and songs from the Instagram library. You can pick any song of your choice without worrying about getting a copyright strike. You can’t do the same for normal Instagram videos or IGTV.

What is Tik Tok?

Tik Tok is a social media app created for sharing short-form mobile videos. It is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese Internet Technology company, founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012.

Tik Tok has garnered immense popularity mainly for its lip-sync, dance, and comedy videos. However, it is not limited to only that. You can find several tutorials on Tik Tok, too, from cooking to home décor.

How is Instagram Reels and Tik Tok similar?

Besides being video sharing apps, there are some other stark similarities between Instagram Reels and Tik Tok. No wonder people were so quick to compare the two.

Some of the similarities are:

  • Both Tik Tok and Instagram Reels are available on mobile devices not PCs
  • You can create short-form videos up to 15 seconds on both apps
  • You can incorporate audio clips in both Reels and Tik Tok videos. They can be songs or other audio pieces.
  • Both the apps are used for entertainment and education
  • From a business perspective, both apps have immense followers which are great creating brand awareness
  • The majority of users on Tik Tok and Instagram Reels are between the ages of 18 and 24 years.

What’s the difference?

Yes, at face value both Tik Tok and Reels may seem very similar. The common assumption is that they are different versions of the same thing.

However, there are some significant differences like:

Time limit

When it was initially launched, Tik Tok videos had a time limit of 15 seconds. However, the length of the videos was extended to 60 seconds in January this year. On the other hand, Reels videos have a 15-second time limit.


There is a separate feed for Reels on Instagram. To check out Reels videos, you need to go on to the Explore page on Instagram. Whereas in Tik Tok, there is just one feed.

Reels does not have the duet feature

One of the reasons for Tik Tok’s popularity is the duet feature. A Tik Tok duet video comprises of the original video placed on one side and a parody video placed on the other. Duet challenges are immensely popular on Tik Tok. Instagram Reels does not have a duet feature.


The hashtag is not just the humble pound sign anymore. It is a vital part of both Instagram and Tik Tok. Hashtags are used to connect your social media content to a particular theme, event, topic, or conversation. Using hashtags on your posts makes it easier to discover earning you more Instagram likes and Tik Tok likes. However, the hashtags used in Instagram Reels and Tik Tok are different. Some popular Tik Tok hashtags are #trending, #fyp, and #tiktokcomedy. On the other hand, the most popular hashtags on Reels are #reels, #reelsinstagram, and #reelsvideo.


The demographic of the user base of Instagram is much broader than that of Tik Tok. A majority of Tik Tok users are teenagers whereas most Instagram users are within the 30 to 50-year range.

How can you benefit from Instagram Reels?

How Can You Benefit From Instagram Reels

The primary benefit of Reels is that it is on Instagram, a platform that most businesses and brands already use. Your Instagram followers would also be your Reels followers. Reels is another way, of course, a more entertaining one, for brands or businesses to engage with their customers.

Instagram was launched in October 2010. Since then, brands and businesses on Instagram have developed their own strategies about how to use the social media platform for business growth. With the newly launched Reels, all they need to do is incorporate Reels videos in their marketing strategy. With Reels, businesses do not need any other platform to get data and insights about their business. They can get all their information from Instagram itself with no extra effort.

Also, the median age of real Instagram followers is between 30 and 50 years. If your business deals with products or services that cater to this age group, it makes more sense to use Reels than other platforms. If your target audience is between 30 and 50 years old, Reels will have a far wider reach than Tik Tok.

If you are a musician, photographer, or videographer, or are in any other creative business, you can use Reels to share engaging video content with your followers. You can use these short 15-second videos to give your audience a peek into what goes on backstage. You can also give them small glimpses into your day to day life to build a lasting relationship with your followers.

Other businesses and brands can share tip-based or educational content on Reels. For instance, if you are in retail, how about sharing tips on how to wear a product or how to use certain products. If you are in the food industry, why not share some cooking tips?

How can you benefit from Tik Tok?

A large portion of Tik Tok users is teenagers. If you want to target the next generation of social media users, you must use Tik Tok. The new generation is more interested in showing more organic and less curated content.

When it comes to advertising, brands and businesses can explore a lot of opportunities on Tik Tok. They can use In-Feed Ads, which appear on the For You page with a sponsored label. Brands are also exploring influencer marketing by partnering with Tik Tok celebrities for brand campaigns.

So, Instagram Reels or Tik Tok, what should you use?

Why not both? Both apps have the ability to improve brand recognition and increase customer reach. After all, both platforms are offering the same service. And as they say, never put all your eggs in one basket.

The content that you create for Reels or Tik Tok is similar, however, it gets marketed to different demographics. So wherever possible, it is a clever idea to use both platforms to promote your brand or business.

Why do we say wherever possible? That’s because Tik Tok has been drawing ire from the public and governments across the world. The COVID19 pandemic has the world in its grasp and many countries are boycotting Chinese products. What adds fuel to the fire is the allegation that the parent company of Tik Tok, ByteDance can share user information with the Chinese Govt.

Tik Tok was recently banned in India. The US also seems to be following in the same footsteps. President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order against ByteDance. Once the Executive Order is implemented, which is soon, everyone in the US would be banned from doing any sort of business with ByteDance or any of its subsidiaries. That includes Tik Tok.

If you are someone who was heavily banking on Tik Tok for your promotional or advertising needs, it is time to switch to Reels. Or maybe, use Reels along with Tik Tok.


For any business, it is important to build an engaging audience. The social media platform used does not really matter. However, it is always wise to use several social media platforms for your marketing needs. In that way, if something happens to one platform, you have other platforms to fall back on.

Social media is dynamic; you can see changes almost every day. The smart thing to do is adapt to these changes and figure out what works best for you and your business. Social media was created for entertainment, connecting to people, sharing ideas, and engaging with people. So, while the debate continues about the different social media apps available, don’t forget to have fun.

Instagram Reels vs. Tik Tok: What’s the difference? by Mr. Insta Team,
Instagram Optimization and Hashtags Research
Do you need an Instagram expert to complete an in-depth evaluation of your Instagram account & provide you with an action plan?

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