TikTok, the global social media phenomenon, is not slowing down. Starting as yet another Gen Z trend, it has quickly established itself as one of the main social networking services among people of all demographics. In fact, according to Cloudflare Radar insight, in 2021, TikTok surpassed all the other web giants like Google or Facebook and became the world’s most popular web domain. Thus, it’s only logical that other brands and developers are trying to discover and duplicate the secret of the Chinese sensation.
Instagram Reels is one of the industry’s responses to the rise of the new, powerful player. Considering its striking similarities to TikTok, it’s clear that Instagram won’t give up its users without a fight. And while it leaves people with a dilemma of which one they should use for their individual purposes (from entertainment to content creation to activism), it also creates a whole new challenge for marketers. Whether you like it or not, social media presence is as essential for success in today’s digitized world as a reliable payment system for your business in the retail industry or a high quality of customer service. Noticing the slight differences between the platforms and understanding their impact on the industry is essential to developing a truly effective digital marketing strategy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, a freelance marketer, or a social media manager – you can join us as we go through the details below.
The phenomenon of TikTok
Let’s start with the basics.
TikTok is an app that allows users to create short videos and share them with a community of people around the world. It’s free, easy to use, and comes with numerous attractive features, including the in-app musical editor, which gives users access to a plethora of songs and sound effects.
All of this makes it a perfect choice for those who like to entertain and share their experiences with others. TikTok also provides content creators with new ways to present and promote their work, and given its analytic and advertising features, it creates opportunities if you run a digital marketing or media buying agency.
In other words, it has quickly become both a platform for sharing and a source of entertainment.
The main factors behind TikTok’s popularity are:
- Easy-to-use interface. The app requires little to no training at all. It allows users to create their own videos and share them with their friends and followers. This is perfect for anyone who wants to entertain people, promote their projects, or just simply have fun.
- The in-app editor. The simple editor provides users with an opportunity to customize the look of their videos without the need to hire a professional. It also gives access to a wide range of sound effects and background music.
- Cheap and easy marketing opportunities. TikTok is a powerful tool for product placement and brand awareness. It’s free to subscribe to accounts, follow channels, and share videos. Even better, its popularity makes it easy for any brand to get the desired audience.
- The “addictive” nature of the videos. Short videos are fun, entertaining, and easy to enjoy on the go.
- The highly active and engaged community. Since TikTok is a community-based platform, it’s easy to find like-minded people and connect with them.
Worth checking: How to nail the TikTok challenge for businesses?
Reels – the Instagram’s answer to TikTok
With more than one billion monthly active users and 500 million users logging daily, Instagram is one of the world’s largest social networks. In order to remain competitive and retain the users it earned over the years, Instagram decided to launch its own TikTok-like feature – Instagram Reels.
As we already mentioned, Instagram Reels is an in-app feature that allows users to create and share short videos with a community. Its interface is very similar to TikTok. It also has a musical editor with access to thousands of free background music, sound effects, and songs. Everything is done in-app, so all the videos are uploaded directly to the user’s Instagram account and can be shared with their followers.
Instagram Reels vs TikTok – Main differences
When TikTok first launched, it allowed videos up to 15 seconds long, which was later increased several times – to 30 and 60 seconds, finally 3 minutes. However, in February 2022, we’ve learned that TikTok has decided to bump up the maximum length of videos to 10 minutes! It is said that the platform will try to attract some of YouTube’s audience (as YouTube tried to attract TikTokers with their Shorts feature).
So, while Reels had the advantage for some time, now it only allows for 60 seconds of video content, though it’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before it increases as well.
TikTok offers an incredibly vast and diverse library of music, while IG Reels is a bit more restricted. This is due to the fact that the whole idea of TikTok was based on the idea of using and sharing copyrighted music; it was first merged with a popular Chinese social media service – Musical.ly, a platform where you could create and share lip-sync videos.
Instagram, on the other hand, is very much creators-oriented, making its copyright policies and regulations a bit tighter. As such, it offers a limited music library, with most of the audio options being brought over from TikTok anyway.
In short, Instagram Reels allow you to work only with filters available on Instagram Stories. Again, TikTok offers a wider selection of different filters and special effects; what’s more, it allows you to combine some of them, while with Reels, you can only use one filter or effect (as they fall under one and the same category).
However, TikTok also lets you easily save any video you stumble upon, which might not sound appealing to many creators, even if the watermark is always there. Instagram is safer in this respect.
A huge benefit of Reels is that the feature is integrated into the Instagram ecosystem. As such, if a brand has an already established presence and gathered a considerable following base, going into short video content won’t mean starting from scratch. Quite the opposite – reels can easily be used to complement the rest of the content, engage active users and attract new audiences.
Analytics & Advertising
When it comes to features most relevant to marketers, TikTok may be a winner yet again, though nothing is set in stone. While IG Reels comes with no opportunities for paid advertising, it’s also a much younger feature, which is developing quickly, so it’s surely only a matter of time; especially since Instagram provides such options.
TikTok, on the other hand, offers several paid advertising options, such as Branded Hashtag Challenges or In-Feed Ads.
Related article 👉 Everything you need to know about TikTok & its Ads offerings
As for analytics, Instagram is keeping up with TikTok. While it started with no analytic tools, now it allows for a thorough and detailed analysis of how each video performs. TikTok gives you information about things like each video’s views, likes, shares, comments as well as audience demographics or traffic sources. IG Reels offers pretty much the same, with additional details about accounts reached and further demographics.
The influence of TikTok and Reels on social media marketing
While the apps themselves may not be considered a killer feature, the impact they have on the social media landscape is nothing short of immense; though the influences range all the way from positive to negative and back.
Here are the most significant opportunities brought by IG Reels and TikTok:
- More opportunities for brands to engage with their audience. With the wide range of features, short videos, and an engaged community, both platforms are perfect for any brand that wants to build a loyal following.
- New opportunities for digital marketing strategies. Short videos can be easily produced, edited, shared, and reposted in a matter of minutes. This makes it easy for marketers to develop new types of content and execute fresh campaigns.
- More organic reach with the help of influencers and brands. With a growing number of influencers and brands using TikTok and Reels, it’s easier than ever to get your content seen by people who would never normally pay attention to you.
- New opportunities for marketers to integrate these apps into their existing strategies. Since TikTok and Reels are free to use, it’s possible to join the trend without spending a fortune or developing an entire strategy from scratch.
- More opportunities for content monetization. Both TikTok and Reels are a great way for micro-influencers and even solo content creators to monetize their work. Installing a special plugin will give you the chance to earn money from ads on your videos.
- New ways for brands to expand their reach across different countries. As the apps themselves have become popular all around the world, it’s possible for brands to easily build a new audience and expand their reach.
However, like everything else, the situation is not only about advantages and opportunities. Here are some ways in which Reels and TikTok can disrupt social media marketing:
- More challenges for brands to stand out from the crowd. Both apps are full of similar content and, in some cases, even the same creators. It’s harder to develop a unique strategy that would help you stand out from the crowd when everyone is trying to do the same thing (and that thing is what is trending).
- More challenges for marketers who want to make sure they have a fully optimized social media presence across different platforms (since TikTok and Reels are so similar to one another, most of your content will probably be re-used across them).
- More challenges for marketers who want to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in social media marketing. It’s easier to fall behind when there are so many new things happening at once.
- Content abundance and shorter attention span. Due to the fact that these apps are all about short videos, there is a risk that people will become less interested in longer videos, as well as other types of content (like blog posts).
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TikTok and Reels have changed the way we communicate and share our experiences. They have opened up new possibilities for brands, content creators, marketers, and digital agencies, having a positive impact on the industry as a whole.
When it comes to digital marketing, it’s important to be willing to adapt and change. With the rise of TikTok and Reels, Instagram was forced to add new features and try to stay competitive. While both these apps may seem similar on the surface, they have slightly different approaches and audiences, which means that they have different business potential.
One thing is certain – the competition between these two apps will certainly influence the future of social media marketing around the world.