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TikTok vs Reels – How Do They Compare

Social Media Marketing

The world of social media is in a constant state of flux, with new and exciting platforms appearing every now and then. However, only a few of them reach the level of popularity typical for well-established sites such as Facebook or Twitter. 

However, TikTok is one of the exceptions. Created as a result of a merger with another popular app,, back in 2017, it has since become one of the most used social media platforms in the world. At the end of 2021, TikTok became a more popular web domain than even Google. Now in 2022, TikTok has an enormous active userbase numbering a billion people and has been installed over three billion times.

Naturally, such a giant success of a newcomer pushed the existing brands to create their own equivalents of TikTok. Some made entirely new apps, while others decided to add features to their existing services. Instagram chose the latter and introduced Reels.

Both TikTok and Reels are some of the biggest phenomena of the social media world and as such, deserve to be analyzed in detail. Read on and join us as we compare both platforms side by side and determine their impact on the social media marketing landscape.

How Do TikTok and Reels Compare With One Another?

Despite looking quite similar to each other, Tiktok and Instagram Reels are actually quite different in several aspects. Before deciding on which platform you should focus your efforts on, it would be best to understand these differences.


TikTok and Instagram are clearly focused on the youth. According to the 2021 US survey released by the Pew Research Center, both sites enjoy the highest number of users in the 18-29 age group. Instagram is ahead in this category. 71% of US adults in that age range claim to use Instagram, while for TikTok, it’s merely 48%. Both sites have slightly more female users and enjoy a large following among people of color.


Instagram, however, is most popular among people whose income is more than $75,000, with a 47% following in that demographic group. On the other hand, TikTok’s use peaks in the group earning less than $50,000. If your target audience is centered on the richest, Instagram Reels might be a slightly better choice here.


TikTok is more even when it comes to the areas its users live in. Although there is an 8% decrease in the number of rural users over the urban centers, it’s nothing like the dropoff Instagram is experiencing. IG has 20% fewer users in countryside regions than in cities or towns. Because the divide on TikTok is much smaller, it is likely to be better than Reels at reaching urban and rural audiences at the same time.

TikTok Offers Longer Video Content

Both TikTok and Reels offered a 15-second time limit at the beginning of their existence. Since then, these two have significantly extended the possible length of their video content. These days, Reels allows a maximum of 60 seconds of video to be posted. TikTok is much better off here, as it gradually increased its time limit from initial 15 seconds to an amazing 10-minutes per video as of 2022.

This can be an important feature for certain advertising campaigns. It’s not always possible to cram your promotional material into a minute-long piece.

TikTok Offers Better Music and Video Editing Options

TikTok has a very extensive library of music that you can choose from. What’s more, you can even record and use your own sounds, or pick from those other users created. In this regard, Instagram Reels is a bit more limited, as it offers a smaller selection of music available.

TikTok wins again when it comes to the video editing possibilities. You can both use the existing community filters or even add your own. It also allows you to combine some of them at the same time. Reels tends to offer only standard features such as single filters, adding or muting audio lines, and placing texts, emojis, or gifs. On the upside, Reels also has an option similar to the Tiktok duets, called Remix.

Reels Is Better When It Comes to Ads

Ads are among the most important elements of any marketing effort. And according to an experiment run by an ad design platform Creatopy, Reels clearly wins in this area. The reach of Reels ads was much higher in the number of exposed users and impressions. Similarly, the number of click ads generated was also bigger when using Reels, making it a more suitable platform to use for business owners, no matter whether they are running an eCommerce website, media buying agency, or developing software to help organizers manage events easier.

Although the CTR was the same, both CPC and CPM values were much worse for the TikTok. For example, Reels CPC was over 7 US dollars less, standing at about $28. TikTok’s CPM value was over 2.5 times higher than the result Reels got. All in all, it appears that ads on Reels are not only more effective but also significantly cheaper. It’s even more impressive if you take into account the cost per 1k users reached – TikTok was about twice as expensive as Reels here.

Both TikTok and Reels Have a Big Impact on Social Media Marketing

It’s safe to say that both of these offer enormous benefits to any marketers willing to try them. The existence of these services may even make traditional SM advertising efforts questionable in some industries or situations. 

For example, a street fashion business targeting teenagers and young adults doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on Facebook’s paid ads and pray to get enough exposure. Their perfect target audience is very likely already there on Tiktok or Instagram Reels, so it’s simply a matter of reaching and attracting them to the enterprise. The initial costs of doing so are minimal in comparison to the traditional marketing strategies. Moreover, both apps are free-to-use and require only a bit of ingenuity to start.

Both Services Have Lots of Influencers

What’s more, TikTok and Reels make it very easy to significantly increase your audience in a short period of time. While normally you’d have to engage in long and risky social media campaigns with other brands to mutually introduce your audiences to one another, now you simply can enter into a partnership with a renowned influencer. 

If you manage to secure a professional relationship with some of them, your products or services should get exposed or sometimes even outright recommended. These content creators have a following that can range anywhere from thousands to millions of users. Moreover, their audiences are usually very loyal.

Short Videos Might Create Issues

However, there are certain worries too. Because both Reels and TikTok base their entire model on short-video forms, they actually promote a shorter attention span among users. That can create future problems for more typical social media campaigns, such as high-quality informational videos or shared blog posts. After all, why read a detailed post on some services or goods if you can watch a minute-long video? 

Moreover, a badly designed campaign centered on this short-form content can backfire and push customers away. It’s hard to put all the necessary information into such a limited video, and some clients might make a purchase without knowing all the key details. This, in turn, can lead to dissatisfaction.


As you can see, both TikTok and Reels offer a lot of benefits to brands looking to get exposure on social media. However, each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses in different areas. Before you decide which one is best for your enterprise, consider a number of factors first. 

Both platforms enjoy a slightly different demographic, so research your target audience first before committing. You also need to consider if you’re focusing your efforts on catchy video content or prefer a very effective ad effort. But in the end, both of them offer impressive social media marketing capabilities, so you shouldn’t regret the choice no matter what you settle on. Good luck!

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