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What You Need to Know About Tik Tok vs. Instagram Reels

What you need to know about Tik Tok Vs. Reels

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Let’s talk about trending videos!

TikTok blew up at the onset of COVID-19 when the world was forced inside of their homes for months. It featured content that was relatable for everyone at the time and brought smiles to people’s faces.

Then, later in 2020 when there was chatter of a possible ban of the app, Instagram released a new feature on their platform called Reels. The two platforms allow for similar content, but have wildly different features in terms of the creative elements and creation process.

Now, you’re probably wondering, ‘Why should I care?’ Well, you should care because both are great platforms to consider incorporating into a social media strategy as they continually become consumed and more relevant in the social media world. And, both platforms work differently, so it might hold some significance in which one you decide to use over the other.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing social networking service that was released in 2016 but didn’t really gain popularity beyond the Gen Z crowd until March 2020. This social media platform is used to make 15 seconds to 1 minute videos for the purpose of expressing, sharing, and discovering content. Content ranges from dancing, singing, comedy, lip-syncing to giving advice or tips. Videos are created and then shared across the platform where users, trends, and talents are shared.

What is Instagram Reels?

In 2020, Instagram released a new feature called “Reels” which is basically their quickly launched copy-cat version of TikTok. Most of the basic features available on TikTok are also available on Reels. According to Sproutsocial, Instagram has more than 1 billion global users, so as you can imagine, it was essential they hopped on this trend and made it their own. Reels offer the same purpose as TikTok, with the ability for users to also create, share, and discover other videos.

What Features Each Platform Allows

Music/Audio options

TikTok: Music is one thing I am extremely sensitive about on these platforms. TikTok 100% has the upper hand on music. No matter if you’re a business or personal account, they allow all users to use ANY song. And, people upload so many different remixes, versions, and more on TikTok, and it’s easier for a user to find and use these songs. In terms of audio, for a while, TikTok was the only platform that allowed users to use their own audio (ie., them speaking) while also using a song from the app. But…

Instagram: Instagram just recently (thank GOSH!) added the same capability of having audio and music in the same clip. For the longest time, you couldn’t do both at once. Props to IG for finally adding this… it sure is a game changer!

As for music, this is where Instagram honestly drives me up a wall. There are no remixes in the search bar. If you want to use a remix, you have to happen to stumble upon it in someone else’s Reel and then save it for later. Also, for business accounts, they make it impossible to find popular songs. For whatever reason, they limit business accounts to the big-name songs and give you a small selection of songs that… probably aren’t going to fit with the trend you are looking for, or in general just won’t work with your video. However, if you’re a personal account, you’ll be able to find those popular songs much easier. But the selection even for personal accounts doesn’t amount to what’s available on the Tok.


TikTok: TikTok allows you to record/upload a video up to 60 seconds which is great if you have a long story to tell or many different working parts to your video and don’t want it to feel rushed.

Instagram: You can record/upload a video up to 30 seconds… which seems long, but honestly goes by pretty quick!

Timer & Speed

Both platforms stand about the same in terms of the ability to use a timer to start your video or to speed up the video. Not much differs here.


TikTok: Another area where TikTok has the upper hand here. They have endless effects that you can use on yourself while you record, but also when you’re done recording, you can choose a filter. And they have SO many filters that you’ll be so indecisive on which looks best… because they all look good.

Instagram: Instagram lags in this area because all its effects and filters are the same as what’s already offered on the platform for Stories. The effects are fine because there are plenty of effects to use. But on the filters side of things, they are literally the same filters you would see if you were posting an Instagram Story. They need to mix it up and update their filters!


TikTok: The queen of transitions. So many transitions to choose from and they really elevate your video. Not only being able to add transitions to your video is fun and creative, but it’s a skill that many people on the platform are trying to master to take their content to the next level.

Instagram: Instagram doesn’t even have transitions, but is something they should definitely consider for the future if they want to keep up the competition with TikTok.

Remix vs. Stitch or Duet

TikTok: For far too long, TikTok has allowed users to “Stitch” or “Duet” with other user’s videos. “Stitching” is when a user clips and integrates certain scenes from another user’s video into their own. A “Duet” is when another user’s video is side-by-side with another user’s to spice it up. This has been a popular feature for users especially for criticism or enhancement from the original video.

Instagram: They just launched a new feature called “Remix” this past March which is the identical twin to “Duet.” I’m sure more people will incorporate this feature into their Reels in the near future.

Green Screen

TikTok: I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point… TikTok allows users to put up what is essentially a “Green Screen” picture. The user can then still talk or be present in the video, as a green screen in real life allows.

Instagram: Again, another feature that Instagram has yet to implement thus far. Apparently, you can use a green screen when you look it up but is not there for use by default. This is a highly used feature on TikTok, so they would be smart in building this feature into their platform as well.

Overall usability

TikTok: It definitely has more features that allow content creators to really tap into their creativity. It can be a bit overwhelming to create a video on Tik Tok, but overall, usability is still good and Tik Tok has got it going on. It’s a great platform if you feel comfortable playing and messing around. And if you don’t, you can still make your video as simple as possible… because honestly, some of the most basic, simplest videos with no text overlay or audio blow up on the internet.

Instagram: At this point in the game, Reels is extremely simplistic and easy to use, because it IS so basic and offers the bare minimum for content creators. But, there are a lot of clunky parts, one example being that you can’t save the Reel to your phone with sound.

Why It Matters

More people and businesses are starting to use one or the other. One benefit of using Reels is to build brand awareness and give your followers more authentic content. It keeps you relevant and up-to-date with the trends that they’re seeing from other accounts as well.

Another benefit is that Instagram tends to favor accounts in the algorithm that are using all of their features, with Reels being one of them. TikTok is a great way to build brand awareness and show of your authenticity, too, but the only problem is that not everyone is on it (yet), so you might not get the traction that makes sense for your business, and you may be wasting your time.

Another extreme downside to TikTok is that even if you use that platform to create the video first, then upload it to Reels, you won’t be rewarded by Instagram’s algorithm because your video will have the TikTok watermark.

If you’re looking for a space to be extremely creative and add all of the fun touches such as transitions, effects, green screen, etc., then TikTok is your place. If that’s not as important to you, and you can do without, Reels is a perfectly great place to upload your content and stay-in-relevance with your followers.

Have fun with it, be creative, think outside of the box, and most importantly, follow the video trends! The use of effects, audio, music, and general content topics are ALWAYS changing.

Check us out on Tik Tok and Instagram for our videos!

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