TikTok vs. Instagram Reels — Which to Choose for Your Business

Instagram is at it again copying features from other social media apps (sorry, Snapchat). Their new feature called Reels launched on August 5th and allows users to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can then share the videos to your Feed or Story. Your Reel could also appear on the Explore page if you have a public account. (Which, let’s be real here, is not likely — but I digress). 

This functionality is an exact rip off of the popular app TikTok, which has left many to wonder if the Gen Z favorite will soon be old news. But according to a recent survey, most Tik Tok influencers have given Reels a hard pass. 75% of TikTok creators polled said they would not move their content to Instagram Reels, citing concerns over Instagram’s algorithm. 

Now that leaves us wondering whether it makes sense for businesses to give Reels a try, stick with TikTok, or do both? Our take is: it depends (very unsatisfying, I know) 

As with all social media efforts, it’s vitally important that you consider three big things: 

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What creative resources do you have?
  3. What is your expected ROI? (both your time spent as well as monetary investment)

Target Audience

Demographics wise, TikTok has 26.5 million monthly active users in the U.S., and people spend an average of 52 minutes per day using the app. The catch here is that 41% of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old, and roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34. If this is your target demo — GREAT. But for many of our clients, this isn’t the best fit. 

On the other hand, Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, and people spend an average of 28 minutes per day using the app. As of May 2020, 35.2% of U.S. Instagram users were between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest user group was 18 to 24-year-olds with a 21.4% share. 

Creative Resources

Social media can be a total time suck if you don’t plan accordingly. For most business owners, your time is likely better spent selling rather than writing captions for social media. With that said, social media is still vital for business owners to raise awareness of their business. So, before you download TikTok and spend a full day practicing dance moves, take stock of your creative resources.  

Do you have the bandwidth and the interest to create videos yourself? Is there someone on your team who could take this on? Should you hire a freelancer or small agency to manage social media or build you a strategy? 

If you barely have the time to create content for Facebook or Instagram now, you probably don’t have the time to make content for Reels or TikTok. 

What is your expected ROI?

Return on investment is huge when it comes to social media. Now that Facebook de-values branded content, some major corporations have decided to stop posting organically and instead push their resources into social advertising exclusively. 

We think this is a bit extreme and unrealistic for most small to medium-sized businesses. However, it raises an important question to consider: What does social media success look like to you and your business? Are you looking for clicks to your website? General awareness of your products/services? Going viral? (that last one will probably never happen) 

Hot Take: You don’t need to be on TikTok

  • TikTok may be a good platform if your target demo skews young, but make sure that you or someone on your team is up on the latest content trends. Otherwise, it could be a total waste of your time. 
  • If you want to try your hand at this video style first before committing to a new channel, start with Reels. 
  • Remember that someone watching a TikTok or Reel is likely not going to visit your website after watching. Not because they don’t like you or your product, but because this isn’t the typical user behavior. 
  • If your audience skews young, but making consistent videos is daunting, consider an advertising test on TikTok. Their self-serve ad platform is pretty intuitive.