Instagram Reels, & TikTok: Everything You Need to Know

Now more than ever, social media channels that feature short videos are becoming a choice source of entertainment. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have widely popularized this trend, especially amongst Gen Z users who are taking the lead in creating this video content. With Instagram Reels and TikTok taking social media by storm, businesses and digital marketing agencies quickly took advantage of this opportunity to advertise branded content through major and micro-influencers


We know your brand is hungry to learn more about this sweet new trend. So, here’s a taste of why Reels and TikTok are the perfect secret ingredient, and how to incorporate them into your marketing strategies!


What are “Reels”?

Originating from Instagram, Reels are short-form videos usually set to music or other trending sounds. They can now be up to 60 seconds in length and feature custom audio, effects, and filters. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Reels has become a popular way for users to connect, create fun and exciting content, share ideas, and entertain one another. Content creators, influencers, and social media users alike are now regularly posting these short-form videos across Instagram and TikTok, creating anything from dances to challenges to new recipes and wellness programs. 

To compete with the popularity of TikTok, Instagram is pushing creators to stop posting TikToks to Reels. Instagram is currently in the process of making some tweaks to its algorithm with regards to how it will suggest and present Reels to users. The platform is also developing new practices on their @creators account to provide users with some pointers on how to create content that will reach audiences, get shares, and be promoted. 

When it comes to digital marketing, Reels have created a new era and avenue for advertising and campaigning products and services. Through both major and micro-influencers, Reels that feature ad campaigns boost businesses by driving traffic to their sites and increasing sales of positive-reviewed products via these platforms. 

How Are Reels Useful in Digital Marketing?

From influencer marketing to branded ads, Reels are becoming the bread and butter of digital marketing. 

Many brands are using Reels to advertise their products through influencers. With TikTok and Reels being the most popular video platforms, paid influencers publish branded content to these channels. These short videos feature influencers creatively reviewing, rating, and recommending a product to their thousands (or millions) of followers. 

What is unique about Reels is that they are not a traditional advertising method, as the product is the secondary focus of the video. This way, brands can use influencers to connect with their target audience before pushing a product. This is a useful digital marketing strategy because it is a trendy way to advertise; putting less emphasis on the product and shying away from cliche and overused advertising techniques. 

Reels can also be used to grow your social media presence and create engaging, relevant, and exciting content to get viewers aware of and interested in your brand. One way brands are doing this through Reels is posting a “behind the scenes” look at the inner workings of a business. This also allows audiences the opportunity to get to know your brand and supports authenticity. 

Another way brands are using Reels in digital marketing? To educate viewers through short how-tos, answering commonly asked questions, and even showcasing their products in action. 

Here is a closer look at the different social media channels that feature Reels. 

ReelzChannel vs. TikTok TV

If you aren’t already familiar with TikTok TV, here’s a quick rundown: The TikTok TV app was designed for TV-based home viewing for a more “cinematic” experience. The app allows users to watch TikTok content from their television screens, as opposed to their mobile devices. 


Disclaimer: ReelzChannel isn’t actually a platform for digital marketing, but it’s worth noting. This digital cable and satellite TV network reach over 50 million U.S. homes. Recently, ReelzChannel sued Instagram Reels for copying its trademark. Though the legal issue has yet to be resolved, Instagram created its Reels platform in an attempt to compete with TikTok. 


Instagram launched its Reels channel in August of 2020 to try and win back the audience and users it lost to TikTok. Attempting to out-compete them, Instagram Reels feature up to 60-second video clips to charted songs and is becoming a popular platform for digital marketing. However, TikTok is still outshining Instagram Reels. 


Despite Instagram’s attempts to outpace its competitor, TikTok remains the platform of choice. While TikTok was initially popularized by Gen Z, it is quickly spreading to other age groups. Here we will break down the differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok and help you decide which platform is best for you!

The Differences Between Instagram Reels & TikTok

There are several differences between Instagram Reels and TikTok that contribute to their effectiveness in marketing to users. 

Video Length 

For starters, the length of a Reel will affect its ability to promote a product effectively and efficiently. Condensing a creative idea into a time-restricted video clip is no cakewalk. When it comes to Instagram Reels, creators are limited to a 60-second video. This limits the content to short messages, which may not be as effective in marketing a product as a longer clip.


However, with TikTok, creators can make videos as short as 30 seconds and as long as three minutes. You can also make a mini-series with multiple parts. This gives influencers significantly more wiggle room to create engaging, creative, and thorough content when reviewing a product.

Audio 

When it comes to audio, Instagram Reels has a more limited library to choose from. Many of Instagram’s audio selections come directly from TikTok, making Instagram Reels dependent on another platform for audio variety. Both verified businesses and Reels are limited to a Commercial Library of non-copyrighted songs. 


TikTok’s sounds, however, are not limited to trending music that hits the top charts. TikTok users can even make their own sounds and are constantly creating new audios. This adds a touch of freshness to this platform, allowing users more creative liberties and variety when it comes to audio.

Editing with Effects

Editing is an important feature in developing creative and engaging video content. TikTok trends often coincide with the use of specific video effects like face morphs and backdrops. TikTok also features a very unique editing tool: the beauty effect. This editing tool functions as a sort of “touch-up” effect that softens and smooths facial features. You can also use multiple filters and effects on TikTok videos, which allows designers to get more creative and diversify their content. 


Instagram Reels, though, offer a more limited selection of effects compared to TikTok. While Instagram’s effects are not as diverse as TikTok, they do offer better “touch-up” features (which could be an important and useful tool for beauty influencers, especially). Unlike TikTok, Reels also only allows creators to use one filter per Reel. So, although Instagram’s filters may be better in terms of beauty and softening facial features, the selection and creative reach are much more constrained. 

Algorithms

TikTok has developed a strong algorithm for users. With this platform, it is easier for videos to gain views (or “blow up”). Because micro-influencers are almost guaranteed to get more views on TikTok, it is much more commonly used by digital marketing agencies and brands. TikTok’s algorithm also considers users’ interest, so branded content is more likely to appear on a target consumers “for you page,” as the product or service pertains to their unique interests or needs. 


Instagram Reels has yet to even develop an algorithm, which complicates a Reel’s ability to reach the right target audience. 

Advertisements

When it comes to featuring sponsored advertisements, Instagram Reels has steered away from this approach. For users, the absence of featured ads makes for a much more enjoyable experience. This means that Instagram Reels may not be the ideal marketing tool UNLESS you are using influencers. Influencers can still feature and review products on Instagram Reels but can use branded tags to let viewers know the content is sponsored. 

TikTok features both advertisements and sponsored content. However, this content is personalized to an individual’s feed, so it may be more likely to intrigue your target audience. 

Which Platform Should You Use?

When it comes to deciding which platform to use for your brand’s marketing strategies, TikTok is top tier! With more variety in terms of video length, audio, editing, and effects, TikTok seems to be the superior choice. However, if you do choose to use Instagram Reels, you can still keep a tab on new trends from TikTok (because the content correlates). You could also consider – when repurposing TikTok videos to Reels – using a free online tool to remove the watermark.  

However, there is a plus side to using Instagram Reels over TikTok. With Instagram Reels, brands that create sponsored content with new features, sounds, and trends on this platform will be rewarded with visibility and reach by the platform. 

Still can’t decide which platform is best for you? Try both! To implement top-tier digital marketing and eCommerce strategies, contact our team at CakeCommerce.