Instagram Reels vs TikTok: What You Need to Know

If there’s any type of social media buzz on the Internet right now, then it’s probably about Instagram Reels (IG Reels) – TikTok’s newest video rival. And as the US announces a potential ban on TikTok it looks like an opportunity for IG Reels to really gain traction.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know

What’s more, it seems people have questions. A lot of them:

  • Is Instagram Reels going to be popular?

  • How do you use it? 

  • When will it roll out in other countries (right now Reels is available in bigger markets including the US, Mexico, India, Brazil, the U.K., Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Argentina and a few others.)

  • Is IG Reels going to replace TikTok? 

Let’s find out! 

Jump Links:

What is Instagram Reels?
How to Create Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels vs TikTok
What Do Influencers Have to Say?

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a relatively new Instagram video feature, which allows users to make short, 15-second videos. Just like TikTok, IG Reels allows you to use your original video sound or add pre-existing sound clips. 

We must note, although Reels might look like a TikTok replica – the feature integrates quite well with already existing Instagram editing tools and filters. 

The videos can be filmed directly with the IG Reels camera or you can upload them from your camera roll instead.

If you have a private Instagram account, only your followers can access your Reels. If you have a public one, then anyone can see them (just like the privacy settings on other Instagram posts). 

In case you’re absolutely new to Instagram Reels, you can recognize IG Reels by looking for an icon in the lower-left corner of the video when you scroll through your Insta feed (or if you’re looking at someone’s profile, you’ll notice the icon in the upper-right corner). 

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know
Source: Instagram

Chances are you’ve already been “exposed” to an IG Reels video already, even if you haven’t paid much attention!

IG Reels can be uploaded to Instagram Stories, or you can find them shared on the feed as an addition to a Reels gallery of users’ profiles.

They appear frequently on the Explore page too – and from what we’ve seen so far, they’re the best of Instagram’s trending culture! They typically appear as one of the first pieces of content that a user will see on their Explore page.

Fun fact: if one of your IG Reels ends up being featured on the Explore page, you’ll receive a special notification to let you know. 

Instagram Reels Facts and Stats 

It could be tricky to talk about statistics and analytics when it comes to a relatively new tool, but the stats we have so far illustrate the impact Instagram Reels has on the Instagram community and the overall response to it in general. 

So, here are some empowering IG Reels stats you need to know:

  • IG Reels was initially released in Brazil, and Brazil’s Instagram users are said to typically increase by 1% each month.

  • Instagram downloads increased 11.4% in India after IG Reels was introduced in July 2020.

  • 20 of the NBA’s 30 teams are using Instagram Reels. 

  • NBA franchises are allegedly getting 22% higher engagement with Instagram Reels as compared to Instagram stories or Instagram posts.

  • IG Reels is available in 50 countries as of August 5, 2020.

  • Brands are already taking advantage of using IG Reels as a new content distribution method; Louis Vuitton averages 7M views on each Reel, Sephora France gets more than 453K views, while Red Bull France has several viral Reels with more than 2.4M views on their most popular one. 

Overall, Instagram Reels is a refreshing addition to an already feature-rich app, or as Instagram puts it

Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram, and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take center stage.

Now you know what Reels are and why you should try it.

How to Create Instagram Reels

If you’re already on Instagram, then we guarantee you’ll know how to use IG Reels. But just in case, let’s quickly walk you through the process. 

The first step is to select Reels at the bottom of your Instagram camera. 

Once you do so, various editing tools will pop up on the left side of your screen to help you create a more interesting and fun Reel such as:

  • Audio 
  • Align
  • Timer and Countdown 
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Effects 
  • Speed
Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know
Source: Instagram

You can record a Reel by pressing and holding the capture button (just like a normal IG video). 

As you record, you’ll notice a progress indicator at the top of your screen so that you know where you stand with your video – remember, Instagram Reels are up to 15 seconds long. They differ from TikTok videos as the maximum limit is different.

Once you’re done filming, you’ll spot two arrows on either side of the shutter button (the left one serves to replay the clip you’ve just finished filming). 

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know
Instagram Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

In case you want to delete the clip, all you need to do is tap the trash can icon and then select Discard

CNET have recently published a step by step guide to creating your first IG Reels video – you can read it here: IG tutorial: How to use the TikTok competitor.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok

The fact everybody associates and compares Instagram Reels to a TikTok video isn’t a mere coincidence.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know

It’s obvious that Instagram Reels has the same premise as TikTok – to provide video entertainment for a wide range of users, which in essence – is more or less the purpose behind each social media tool. 

To read more about other social media tools, don’t hesitate to check our guide on 20 Social Media Tools: Automation to Save Time and Outperform Competitors.

Now, the content we see posted on both IG Reels and TikTok is as follows: lip-synching, pranks, dance competitions, various tutorials, and authentic looking music videos. 

TikTok and Instagram Reels also have similar video creation tools and features. 

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know

So, while the foundational basis of the two tools is the same, a TikTok video and an Instagram Reels video differ in many aspects.

Let’s see what they are. 

First, TikTok is a separate, stand-alone platform, and Instagram Reels is a new feature within a pre-existing app.

In terms of length, a TikTok video has a 1-minute limit, while IG Reels has only a 15-second video option.

When you create your videos, they’re all saved on TikTok – on Instagram Reels, you can decide to share on your story only, and they will last for only 24 hours.

Alternatively, you can post your Instagram Reel onto your feed, where it will live permanently unless deleted or archived.

One key difference is the purpose of each platform.

While TikTok video is still used purely for entertainment, Instagram has a proven track record of helping businesses to promote products and raise brand awareness.

IG Reels is advantageous in this aspect. We’re sure TikTok will get there eventually – especially since the platform has started producing its own stars

Another thing that really sets these two platforms apart is the choice of music and audio – at the time this article was written, a TikTok video allows for a much wider range of songs, whereas with Instagram Reels, there are speculations that Reels may be launching licensed music for use very soon. 

Finally, Instagram Reels knows TikTok has set the bar high.

Just consider the following 2020 TikTok stats:

  • TikTok is the 4th most downloaded free iPhone app in 2019 (and the 2nd from all apps downloaded in 2019 both on Google Play and Apple App Store).

  • It’s currently available in 154 countries and in 39 languages. 

  • TikTok is said to have the highest follower engagement rates across 100,000 user profiles. 

  • It has 800 million active users worldwide. 

  • It has been installed over 1.9 billion times globally (having 113 million downloads in February 2020 alone). 

  • 20% of all TikTok revenue comes from the USA.

  • 9 Out of 10 TikTok users use the app several times daily.

While it may be hard for IG to beat these stats, taking into consideration Instagram’s popularity – it’s far from impossible. 

If anything, it will most certainly be a social media challenge to do it. 

What Do Influencers Have to Say?

Now let’s consider another perspective. 

Instead of seeing Instagram Reels only as a TikTok alternative, a TikTok Clone, or a TikTok Copycat, influencers offer a refreshing perspective: many are planning to try and explore IG, while remaining active on TikTok as well. 

So, how about using both? 

Is it possible for two king candidates to share the same video throne?

Instagram Reels vs TikTok - Key Differences and What You Need to Know

For example, Amanda Cerny, a well-known comedian and actor who got her breakthrough on Vine and YouTube, has stated: “Just as brands shouldn’t advertise on only one platform, I can’t put all of my eggs in one basket either”. 

She then added, “Different strokes for different folks! A fan in India may be on Instagram Reels, while a fan in Brazil may be on TikTok. […] I want to spread the smiles globally and not limit myself to one platform.”

We dare say videos have been around far before TikTok or IG Reels – what they did differently is they revolutionized the way we look at videos by adding a playful approach to it. 

Check out our previous articles to learn more about How to Become an Instagram Influencer: 13 Steps for Beginners and What Type of Influencer is Best for My Campaign? 

What’s Next? 

To sum up, Instagram Reels is another way for brands to get in touch with their Instagram audience and engage in playful campaigns. 

It can definitely transform your social media presence for the better. Now, if it’s here to stay or not depends on whether it finds its own IG Reels community.

Although currently the only analytics available for it are likes, comments and view counts, this will definitely be further developed in the future. 

That said, we at Keyhole have the necessary tools to help you dive deep into your Instagram Reels experience, and make the most of it with our Instagram Analytics

Are you ready to try it?


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Instagram Posts vs Instagram Stories: Is One Better Than the Other?

The Top 15 Instagram Analytics Tools [+ Metrics that Matter]


Keyhole is a real-time conversation tracker that provides keyword + hashtag analytics and social media analytics across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get started for free here.

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