Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: The Great Marketing Debate

Kaitlin Wood
April 6, 2021

TikTok has exploded on the scene in the past year and a half, making it the most popular social media platform of the moment. Upon TikTok’s rise in popularity, social media competitor Instagram released a similar new video feature called Instagram Reels.

This striking similarity between the two begs the question–is there a difference? And how can I best use them to market my business?

Looking closer at the platforms’ differences will allow businesses to decide which app will serve them more effectively in their social media marketing. Let’s dive in.


Marketing on TikTok vs. Instagram Reels: What’s the Difference?



One of the most obvious differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok is the length of video. On TikTok, users are able to record up to 60-second videos, whereas Instagram Reels only allows for up to 30 seconds maximum.

Depending on the video content you want to produce, shorter videos versus longer videos might be a difference that matters.



Overall, TikTok offers more filters and effects, whereas Instagram is more limited to the already existing filter library for stories. Although Instagram has the potential to expand their filters, the options currently available on each platform are fitting to their unique types of content. 

The various effects on TikTok enable the platform’s creative and comedic content, whereas the limited filters on Reels result in more aesthetically pleasing, cleaner content.

Additionally, TikTok has duet, reaction, and stitch features that allow brands and users to interact with each other in a more creative and meaningful way than just a like or comment.



The algorithm behind Instagram Reels is relatively unknown and results in what appears to be a pool of unlimited content.

TikTok, on the other hand, specifically caters and designs your “For You” page, or FYP. Each user’s FYP is unique to them and is crafted by a variety of factors, including: 

  • User interactions: what types of videos you are liking, sharing or commenting on.

  • Video information: the captions, hashtags, and sounds of videos you are interacting with or that you are using when creating your own content.

  • Device and account settings: language preference, what country you are from, and more. 

TikTok’s algorithm then processes these factors and weighs them based on their importance to the user.

Despite the varying algorithms, going viral on either TikTok or Instagram Reels can be beneficial for a business. 

One could even argue that it’s almost better for your Reel to go viral because it is already directly connected to your business’s Instagram account. But ultimately, that is up to the user’s discretion.



The demographics of the two platforms are also slightly different, with Instagram users tending to skew slightly older than TikTok users.

According to Statista, as of January 2021, the largest percentage (33.1%) of Instagram users were between the ages of 25 and 34 years of age, with the second largest (22.8%) being between 18 and 24 years of age. Additionally, over half of the audience on Instagram is female.

instagram users age chart

With TikTok, the audience is also a majority female. 60% of users are between 16 and 24 years old and 26% are between 25 and 44 years old.

Given the varying demographics between the two apps, you may want to decide where to focus your content depending on your business’s target audience.



TikTok has built-in content and audience analytics for those users with a Pro account. Your analytics are divided into overview, content and followers sections.

Businesses can see data like total time watched, average time watched, the percentage of views by country, as well as the percentage of views based on how users came upon your video (i.e. for you page vs. follow). You can even view the sounds and videos your followers watched in the past week to understand what types of content they are watching outside of your videos!

TikTok analytics examples


As for Instagram Reels, the only analytics provided are likes, comments and shares in addition to the basic analytics Instagram will provide for your overall Instagram account if you have a business profile.


Is TikTok or Instagram Reels Better for Business?

When deciding whether TikTok or Instagram Reels is more beneficial for your business, there are various factors you need to consider. Your existing follower base, target audience demographics, and the type of content you want to produce are a few examples that will help determine which of the two platforms is best suited for your business.

A study done by Markerly looked at the difference in the ways the two apps perform. By comparing 80 influencers and 10 brands across both TikTok and Instagram Reels, they found that for influencers and celebrities, the engagement rates on TikTok surpassed those on Instagram Reels. However, for the brand pages, Instagram Reels outperformed TikTok, most likely due to the preexisting follower base on the app.

Both TikTok and Instagram Reels provide benefits and drawbacks, and it is up to the user or brand to determine which of the two (if not both) they will use. By taking advantage of these two platforms, users can capitalize on the unique benefits that TikTok and Reels have to offer.


When it comes to managing your social media advertising, leave it to the experts. Perfect Search offers the tools and guidance needed to make social media advertising a priority. Contact us today!

Kaitlin Wood
Junior Analyst

Kaitlin is a current Northwestern student hailing from Weston, Mass (go Pats!). Once, she ate chocolate covered ants and swears they weren’t half bad. Her dream car is a Lambo, and her dream pet is a koala.

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