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TikTok vs. Reels


By Caity Barnes

Last month, Instagram launched Reels. Reels is a feature that allows users to record and edit 15-second multiple-clip videos. Once happy with the clips, users can add effects and music. Sound familiar? You’re not the only one…almost everyone is comparing it to TikTok.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

In today’s world, no one is second guessing the need for their brand to be on Instagram. But what about TikTok and Reels?

TikTok is already one of the most used apps in the world, exceeding 2 billion total global downloads in early 2020. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a destination for dancing tweens. Thirty percent of new users from April 2020 and on are over the age of 35, and we continue to see the social platform age-up. TikTok also represents a unique opportunity for brands to be first movers on the platform. You don’t want to fall into the long list of brands that regret getting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter too late and ended up playing catch up.

On the other hand, Reels feels innately comfortable and has prime positioning within the Instagram app. It holds a huge opportunity for brands to build community, drive awareness and engagement. If your brand is already using Instagram, introduce your audience to Reels by auditing your channels for high performing video content and repurpose it for the feature. 

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Content Differences

Though they feel similar, there are differences in the type of content you can expect to see on TikTok vs. Reels. TikTok is raw and unpolished; it’s about authenticity, whereas Instagram is about aesthetic. TikTok should stretch comfort zones, while Instagram remains precise and intentional. Right now, we are seeing most people using Reels to repost their TikToks and not creating natively. As an unwritten rule, do post your TikToks to Instagram but do not post your Instagram to TikTok – or you risk sticking out like a sore thumb.

Regardless of the industry, brands can win on these platforms by tailoring content to their audience. Fashion and lifestyle brands have seen success on Reels by promoting new collections, makeup tutorials, product demos and user-generated content.

Brands have seen success on TikTok by being deeply in tune with the platform, creating hashtag challenges, leveraging trends and using TikTok storytelling styles. An example of these storytelling styles is transition videos, which initiate change of imagery when the beat drops in the music. For a food brand, this would look something like showcasing the ingredients of a meal and when the beat drops, you see a beautifully prepared dish.

Influencer Partnerships

Thinking about integrating these platforms into your influencer marketing strategy? Contracting creators to develop quality content for your brand is a great way to dip your feet in the water…especially if your in-house resources are limited.

TikTok sees types of creators beyond your typical Instagram influencer. From dancers and artists to dads and athletes to pets and comedians, the possibilities are endless. When it comes to influencer marketing on TikTok, it is best practice to use the platform’s native creators. They know how to win the audience and algorithm. Now that Reels is coming into play, be sure to weave cross-posting on Instagram into your influencer agreements.

The Verdict

Marketers are seeing success in paid advertising on both platforms. With TikTok’s extreme algorithm, your brand’s organic content has the same shot of getting millions of views on the For You Page (FYP) as an already established user. Similarly, Instagram’s explore page is highlighting organic Reels content to expand content reach.

So, what’s next? With all the noise surrounding both platforms and unprecedented reach, marketers should be asking themselves not if they should get started but rather, how soon they should get started on both TikTok and Reels.

An actionable next step would be to familiarize yourself with both platforms. Get a feel for the content and see what the buzz is really about. Becoming deeply in tune with the trends and differences will only help to better optimize your marketing strategy. From there, start creating whether it be in-house or through influencers. Most importantly, be creative and have fun! These platforms are surely the place to do so.

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