Instagram Reels vs. TikTok – Where Should You Be Focusing?

It’s no surprise that short-form video content is essential to your marketing strategy, but with two key players to choose from, you might be struggling to pick which platform to share your video efforts.


Between Instagram Reels and TikTok, which channel is right for you? TikTok videos can go viral easily. But so can Instagram Reels. To those that are social media savvy like us at Source, TikToks and Reels are simple to create. In fact, most things TikTok can do, Instagram Reels can do just as well. But which one should you focus your marketing efforts on? Let’s take a look.


Getting Started


The first thing to note is your own following on these platforms, if you already have an established community on Instagram, then branching out to TikTok could be counter productive. On the flip side, if you have similar-sized followings on both, or you are looking to start your social media journey then let’s break them down.


Instagram vs. TikTok


What’s the difference between TikTok and Instagram reels? TikTok is more popular and videos are more likely to go ‘viral’ even if you don’t have a lot of followers, but Reels has more features. Both apps have their own advantages, so you’ll have to decide what is important to you. If you’re looking to reach a larger user base and filter through endless content, go with TikTok. But if you want something more community-based and feature-packed, then Reels might be the right choice for you.


Here’s some more information on their similarities and differences broken down:

Instagram Reels TikTok
Max. video length 90 seconds 10 minutes
Sound library Y Y
Audio Limited library

Copyright restrictions

Extensive library

New sound creation

Upload pre-recorded videos Y Y
Account interaction Collab Duet, Stitch
Business account restrictions Y Y
Product links Y Y
Subscription features Y Y – additional non-subscribed gift feature
Strongest suit Increasing impressions and brand visibility Encouraging UGC (user-generated content)

Instagram Reels


Instagram Reels are short, fast-paced videos that often consist of different clips put together. Creators can record, edit, add music, and finetune their videos with the help of Instagram’s built-in tools and filters. Typical videos include clips of food, OOTD (outfit of the day) videos, gym routines, day in the life, and product launches.

Some examples of these kinds of Reels can be found here:


Once published, Reels can be found on newsfeeds, stories and in the dedicated Explore tab. Being featured on Explore, Reels will reach completely new audiences and could go viral fast as the Instagram algorithm favours video content over its original static posts.




TikToks are short-form vertical videos published on TikTok (originally In just a few years, and with the help of pandemic isolation, TikTok has evolved to become the biggest video-sharing platform to exist. Starting with 15-second dancing and lip-syncing clips to featuring 10-minute presentation videos, TikTok has evolved to suit the masses.


Typical videos include dance trends, in-depth product reviews, story times, lip-syncing clips, and GRWMs (get ready with me). Brands have also jumped on the trendy platform to engage with their audience in often humorous ways. Just take a look at TikTok channels @ryanair and @duolingo for some guaranteed giggles.


Examples can be seen here:


Content Style


Deciding on content style is key. Having an idea of the audience you want to target and the content you want to share could help you decide which platform to target.


Instagram is all about aesthetic lifestyle content. To gain traction with Reels, your videos should be polished and capture the audience’s attention with an appealing opening shot and cover photo. Instagram Reels work well for brands that are ready to invest their time and money in building a consistent brand image.


TikTok on the other hand has a less conservative and more experimental vibe. It doesn’t matter how structured or unstructured your video styles are and whether you’ve picked a nice-looking cover image or not, sometimes, the more chaotic the better! However, this does mean that there are many instances in which content plans are scrapped because there’s a hot new trend you need to jump on.


Our Verdict


Instagram Reels and TikToks offer users an opportunity to create communities with light, entertaining content. It should be noted that TikTok is undoubtedly the trendsetter of the two with Instagram trailing behind, but for a business entering video marketing, the best choice would be to double up. Jump on those TikTok trends, create that engagement, and spread it across both platforms. That’ll provide you with the perfect launchpad for your business.


At Source PR we’ve been developing our expertise in this area and now work with several clients on content creation. If you’d like to pick our brains, we’re here to chat!