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Tiktok vs Reels for Business: Comparison, ROI & Use Cases


Oct 09, 2023

Social media is the most popular online activity in the world. Nowadays, 4.59 billion people are using social media worldwide , and this number is expected to increase to almost 6 billion in 2027.

Instagram Reels and TikTok are two of the most widely known video-sharing platforms, as they have over 3 billion monthly users combined.

This means that businesses can reach billions of users by creating content on both Instagram and TikTok, but which one should you choose?

27.3% of social media users use social platforms to find things to buy , according to a recent study by Statista, so this is an opportunity we can’t miss.

However, choosing the right platform is the first step to success. This leads us to wonder - TikTok vs. Reels for business: which should I choose? Let’s find out.

TikTok vs. Reels: Platforms Overview

TikTok is a short-form video social media platform launched in 2016. TikTok started a revolution and quickly ascended as the absolute king of short-form videos.

In contrast, Instagram started as an image-based social media platform launched back in 2010.

However, it wasn’t until TikTok’s international success, which hit the roof back in 2019 and 2020 (Forbes), that Meta decided to get into short videos.

Instagram Stories were already a thing, but the popularity of TikTok forced Meta to release Instagram Reels in August 2020.

As a result, it is safe to say that Reels is a direct competitor of TikTok . Instagram Reels is directly tied to the main Instagram app - there’s no standalone app to watch Instagram Reels.

They are different platforms, but their goals and content are similar. Let’s check out a quick overview of both TikTok and Instagram Reels before moving on.

Factor TikTok Instagram Reels
Number of Users 1.7 billion 2.35 billion
Monthly Active Users 1.1 billion 2 billion
Daily Time Spent per User 90 minutes 29 minutes
Audience Varied, mainly focused on Gen Z individuals Wider audience of all ages and demographics
Popularity Rank 6th (Worldwide) 4th (Worldwide)

Since Instagram Reels is directly related to the main Instagram App , it is more popular than TikTok as a whole.

Nevertheless, TikTok already surpassed Instagram in time spent (Business Insider), and it has turned into one of the most engaging social media platforms out there.

Businesses of all industries, shapes, and sizes can take advantage of the power of short social media videos, but which one brings the best results?

TikTok vs Reels: Demographics & Audience

It is important for businesses to align their content strategy with their designated target audience.

The nature of both platforms is very clear even for outsiders: TikTok users want to see funny videos, participate in trends, complete challenges, and have fun.

On the other hand, Instagram Reels also has amusing videos and engaging content, but some people also use it to watch more mature content (news, politics, etc.) and stay up-to-date with worldwide news.

The following demographic data shows us an overview of TikTok

  1. 67% of social media users between 18 and 19 years old use TikTok, followed by 56% of users between 20 and 29 years old (Statista).
  2. In contrast, 30.8% of Instagram users fall within the 18 to 19 age range , whereas approximately 46% of users are aged between 25 and 44 (Statista).

Consequently, companies that want to target a younger audience usually do it on TikTok rather than Instagram Reels.

However, both platforms offer amazing potential depending on the industry, age group, and locations of the target audience.

Instagram Reels is known for having a more diverse range of content, as users can engage with funny content, current news, and other videos.

TikTok vs Reels: Algorithm

Both Instagram Reels and TikTok have similar algorithms based on users' interests, engagement with video posts, time spent on the app, and accounts followed.

As users watch and interact with a TikTok video or Instagram Reel, the algorithm is more likely to show similar content as they surf the app.

All of this is done organically , and it’s part of a broader social media strategy by the platforms to get maximum engagement out of their users.

A study conducted by the Journal of Study Research titled “TikTok vs. Instagram: Algorithm Comparison” found that TikTok’s algorithm is “superior in regards to showing specifically tagged content to potentially interested users.”

During the study, researchers created the exact same social media account on both Instagram and TikTok. T he objective was to post the same TikTok content on Instagram and vice versa.

The results show that the overall video view count on TikTok is always far superior to that on Instagram , even if the content is the same.

This can also be witnessed on popular TikTok accounts, such as the one owned by Lizzo, a popular American rapper.

Lizzo posted an Instagram Reel and achieved 245k views , whereas the same original video on the TikTok app surpassed 7.5 million views.

It is said that the TikTok algorithm can read your mind , but in reality, the platform just does an amazing job identifying relevant videos to show users the same content they are interested in.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok Videos: Length, Editing Tools, & Music

Statistics show that short-form videos are 2.5 times more engaging than longer videos.

However, there are a few factors that determine the engagement levels of videos, and they all must be taken into account before starting a video marketing strategy.

That’s why Instagram Reels and TikTok are different from other platforms, such as YouTube - engagement is one of the key metrics that can be harvested on these platforms.

Let’s see how different (or similar) TikTok videos are to Instagram Reels videos.

1. Video Length, Description, & Captions

Both Instagram Reels and TikTok use vertical videos instead of horizontal videos.

This means that videos are maxed out to full screen in vertical format , so unlike YouTube, there’s no “flip screen” button on either platform.

  1. The TikTok video length is from 7 seconds to 10 minutes.
  2. The Instagram video length is a maximum of 90 seconds.

Originally, TikTok videos were pretty short, but this has changed over the years.

Moreover, both platforms have the same video description character limit: 2,200 characters.

Additionally, TikTok and Instagram Reels have the same features when it comes to captions: both platforms can generate automatic captions on videos seamlessly.

2. Music Library & Sounds

Instagram Reels offers a dedicated Sounds Reels Tab called the Instagram Audio Library. This audio library includes plenty of sound effects that creators can use on their videos.

Nevertheless, TikTok’s Commercial Music Library is a unique feature that offers over 500,000 free copyrighted music and special, trendy sounds.

Additionally, both personal and business accounts on TikTok can create their own voiceover or sounds using the branded effects of the platform.

When it comes to voice effects, variety of sounds, and a wide selection of royalty-free music, TikTok takes the lead for sure.

3. Sharing Options & Editing Tools

Both TikTok and Instagram allow users to edit videos by using built-in features within the apps.

TikTok’s Editing Tool allows everyone to create content natively, and it is surprisingly easy to do. On top of that, the editing features are more focused on following trends, collaborating with other users, and implementing original effects to create rather unique content.

Instagram Reels’ editing tool is also pretty handy as it provides features such as text-to-speech, collabs, and more.

Nonetheless, when it comes to simplicity, options, and features, TikTok’s editing tools are far superior and more rewarding than Instagram Reels’ editing tools.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: Ads Costs & Types

Brands in different industries constantly run ads on both TikTok and Instagram Reels as a part of their brand marketing efforts.

Both platforms offer in-feed ads that organically appear as users browse videos on the platforms.

On average, TikTok ads have a 9% click-through rate (CTR) , according to Gitnux.

Likewise, it is estimated that Instagram Reels ads can reach up to 680 million users (Demand Sage). So, how do paid ads compare on both platforms?

1. Instagram Reels vs. TikTok Ads Costs

Instagram Reels ads have an average price of from $2.50 to $5 to reach 1,000 people , whereas TikTok ads costs range from $10 to $20 per CPM (cost per 1,000 views).

Generally, TikTok ads are considered slightly more expensive than Instagram Reels ads.

However, these prices can vary depending on the location of the target audience, objectives of the campaign, daily or lifetime budget, and other factors.

It is worth noting that both platforms offer built-in Instagram and TikTok Analytics features to measure account performance, ad engagement rates, reach, and more.

2. TikTok vs. Instagram Reels Ads Types

TikTok features a wide variety of ad formats and types that brands can opt for.

Some of the most relevant ad formats offered by the platform are Spark Ads, Carousel Posts Ads, In-Feed Ads, and Brand Takeover Ads.

On the other hand, unlike TikTok, Instagram Reels ads are featured similarly to Instagram Stories Ads.

They take the whole screen and are oftentimes featured on the Instagram Explore Page and the dedicated Reels tab.

While the range of Instagram Reels ads may not be as extensive as those on TikTok, they frequently generate significant engagement . For example, with Shoppable Ads on Reels, which incorporate direct product tags, businesses can effectively enhance sales and conversion opportunities.

TikTok vs Reels: What Works aka Content Strategies

There are multiple marketing strategies that companies follow both on TikTok and Instagram to attract wider audiences, boost revenue, get more leads, and reach the overall business objectives.

Among the most popular content strategies on Instagram Reels and TikTok, we have the following three.

1. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the most used marketing strategies nowadays, and thanks to the potential of Instagram Reels and TikTok videos, brands can reach their audiences in a more engaging and organic way.

There are several brands that work with influencers in their marketing efforts and experience wonderful results in the short and medium haul.

As companies find, partner, and collaborate with TikTok and Instagram Reels influencers , they can improve brand credibility and increase brand awareness efficiently.

To find Reels and TikTok influencers to collaborate with, you can use Hypetrace’s influencer database , which contains all the information needed to find influencers based on reach, platform, location, and niche.

2. User-Generated Content

According to Search Logistics, user-generated content , which is content created directly by the users, tends to be 35% more memorable than marketing content created by professionals.

Brands can surf the wave of the TikTok trends or create a branded hashtag challenge that users can participate in.

As brands provide rewards to their users, they create and share short-form video content organically , which has a positive impact on the brand’s overall marketing goals.

3. Short Form Video Content Ads

As mentioned before, running both Instagram and TikTok ads has proven to be effective, but it is necessary for brands to analyze the cost-effectiveness of the strategy before moving forward.

Scaling ads on TikTok and Instagram Reels can be costly, but the return on investment is often great for companies in certain industries.

Paid auction-based ads work similarly on TikTok and Instagram, although it is possible to maximize your budget by opting for Reels ads instead of TikTok ads.

Nonetheless, then again, this depends on the goals and objectives of the brands.

TikTok and Instagram Reels: Case Studies

Creatopy, an ad design software, decided to run a simultaneous Instagram Reels and TikTok ad campaign in October 2021.

Key Takeaways of the campaign:

  1. Daily budget: $50 on both platforms.
  2. Location: United States.
  3. Target audience age: 25 to 44.
  4. Same ad copy for both ads.
  5. Call-to-action: Learn More button.

The results show a reach of almost 390,000 users on Instagram Reels and approximately 199,000 users on TikTok.

Moreover, the CPM on Instagram Reels was $1.67, whereas the CPM on TikTok was $4.38.

This indicates that, in this case, Instagram Reels evidently outperformed TikTok , which showed better results for Creatopy.

Another study made by Emplifi shows that Instagram Reels tends to outperform TikTok videos when it comes to medium reach, interactions, video views, and engagement rate.

This demonstrates that, in general, Instagram Reels users interact better with ads than TikTok users.

Nevertheless, this can change from one industry to another. HubSpot says that Instagram is the best platform for influencer marketing, as 30% of marketers say that Instagram is the platform where they get the biggest ROI , even outperforming TikTok content.

TikTok vs. Instagram: The Future of Both Platforms

Influencer Marketing AI made a couple of predictions for the future of Instagram Reels. According to the company, searching and discovering new Instagram Reels video content will be easier in the future.

Additionally, it is believed that Instagram Reels will have over 2.5 billion monthly active users by the end of 2023.

On the other hand, TikTok is facing a geopolitical conflict as the US Government wants to entirely ban the platform from the country.

If TikTok dodges this “ geopolitical bullet ,” we can expect an even bigger growth in American markets.

User-generated content will become more valuable for brands, and the overall number of monthly active TikTok users will grow as well.

To summarize, both platforms have promising futures, but when it comes to bulletproofing your video marketing strategy, it seems that Instagram Reel has a better chance to continue improving.

TikTok vs Reels for Business: Final Verdict

Before choosing just one network, let’s go over the main five highlights of this comparison guide:

  1. TikTok appeals to younger audiences due to the content type natural to the platform, whereas Instagram reaches older audiences with a wider range of content types.
  2. TikTok editing tools, music libraries, and creativity freedom are far superior to Instagram Reel’s editing features.
  3. Both platforms provide great results on content strategies such as influencer marketing, UGC, and paid ads , although TikTok tends to be more expensive than Instagram Reels for marketing purposes.
  4. Instagram Reels ads tend to outperform TikTok ads in some industries. They are more cost-effective and efficient than TikTok ads as a whole, although TikTok provides more ad types and formats to work with.
  5. TikTok is facing a potential US ban in the upcoming months or years, whereas the future of Instagram Reels looks bright and is headed in the right direction.

So, which one is better for businesses, TikTok or Instagram Reels? The answer depends on the company industry, goals, niche, budget, and objectives, but generally, Instagram Reels tends to be better than TikTok to promote branded content.

There isn’t a single answer to this question , so companies might as well analyze their target audiences, desired goals, and general content strategies in order to pick the platform that better suits them.

There’s a better question to ask ourselves - why not both? Instagram Reels and TikTok both have amazing potential that can be harvested by brands and creators, so finding the right balance will certainly bring the results you are looking for.


Is It Easier to Go Viral on TikTok or Instagram Reels?

It’s easier to go viral on TikTok than on Instagram Reel, thanks to the highly trainable machine-learning-based algorithm of the Chinese platform. On average, it takes around 14 days to go viral on TikTok, whereas there’s no average number of days, weeks, or months to go viral on Instagram Reels.