Reels Vs. TikTok – How Do They Compare?

Instagram had impeccable timing by launching Reels in early August. Trump threatening to ban TikTok sent millions of content creators into a frenzy, and Instagram was (once again) in a position to absorb the users of another social media platform by launching new features. It was a complete wasted effort.

What success Instagram could have had by proper timing was completely lost, due to the confusing and crowded nature of Reels. Let’s compare the two.

Where does content go?
On the FYP (for you page)

Videos can be viewed through a separate app with a curated for your page (fyp ) that’s so closely targeted, it’s become a joke within TikTok to call out users by their algorithm groups. AKA if you’re a trans, black man living in Chicago, you’re very likely to see content pertinent to trans, black issues, specific to Chicago. So you may see a video where someone says, “let me guess. You’re black, trans, and living in Chicago”. This means that content is highly relevant to specific users, and it’s significantly easier to get better engagement on Reels.

Where does content go?
Reels: On the explore feed of Instagram (with IGTVs, videos & photos)

On Instagram, the videos are published the Explore tab, which already is an overwhelming mix of photos, IGTV videos, and sponsored posts. If you wanted to surf through only reels there is no easy way to do this.

How easy is it to create content?
TikTok: Song recommendations, automatic clip trimming, audio sync, pre-made filters and trending songs
TikTok uses artifical intelligence to make video editing incredibly easy – you can take a handful of clips, import them all into TikTok, and it will automatically sync the best parts with music and trim it for you! You can then add voiceovers, pre-made filters or select any of the trending songs.

How easy is it to create content?
Reels: Incredibly difficult to even open, let alone use
Reels is literally Instagram stories but in a new interface, in an impossible location to find on your own. Since it’s launch they’ve added a new location because it was so difficult to get to. If you want to try it out yourself, here’s 2 ways how you can get there.

Option 1: Hit the Explore button (the magnifying glass) and watch someone else’s Reel. Then hit the camera, and you can create a Reel from here. Not very intuitive.

Option 2: (The newer option) Hit the plus at the top left corner of your profile, hit Reels from the dropdown menu.

Once you’re actually in Reels, there is no editing software upgrades here. No automatic trimming, no suggested songs – just painstaking manual syncing.

What are the core functionalities?
Tik Tok: Duets, Trending Audio, Catered FYP
TikTok has created it’s own ecosystem by introducing Duets – essentially a way to interact with other users in a safe and fun way. This is extra important in the age of COVID. Trending audio also made it easier for videos to go viral, and also for musicians and artists to have their music heard. A catered FYP means hours of endless scrolling because content is so specific to its users.

Reels: Native within Instagram
The only advantage Reels had is that there is an existing platform to work this – no need to get users to download a new app. This should have been it’s biggest pro – but the lack of functionality made it a true fail.

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