Reels or TikTok? Wondering if creating Instagram Reels could work better than Instagram Stories or TikTok?
In this article, you’ll discover the pros and cons of using Instagram Reels for marketing.
Instagram Reels: The Case for Early Adoption
Instagram Reels offers a new way to share short video clips of up to 15 seconds inside the Instagram app.
With this addition, Instagram now has five content placements—posts, Stories, Live, IGTV, and Reels—which might seem like a lot of content to produce if you want to maximize on your Instagram audience. But while every Instagram account has access to Reels, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily put your time and effort into Reels right away.
If your audience is in the right demographic to know about Reels and be avid viewers, you should consider this placement to reach new audiences, particularly if video has historically performed well for you on other placements on Instagram.
But not everyone has the time, budget, or inclination to commit to producing yet another type of content. So if you’re already getting great results from your current marketing, you might decide to wait until Reels is more established. Just bear in mind that as Reels becomes more popular, the algorithm might make it tougher to make headway. Often, being an early adopter can give you a head start.
Benefits of Instagram Reels
Early Adopters Enjoy Favorable Exposure
Typically when Facebook rolls out a new function to any of their platforms, they give priority to the content using the new feature, and this is already true of Instagram Reels. Users are reporting higher reach and engagement on their reels than other Instagram content, even when using the same or similar content in different placements.
Reels Are Easy to Create
Video content often requires a lot of investment in terms of time, money, and production. However, just like TikTok, reels are designed to be short videos—a maximum of 15 seconds—so they don’t require a lot of investment and can be created inside the app. And while they’re quick to create, they’re also quick to consume meaning viewers can get to know you and your brand without investing a lot of time.
Read this article for an easy-to-follow walkthrough of creating your first reel.
Reels Content Is Permanent
Instagram already provides a place to create short videos inside Stories, but reels offer the added benefit of being permanent content, whereas stories expire after 24 hours (unless you save them as highlights to your profile). Because the content is in theory quick to create, it’s advisable to block out time to batch-create lots of different reels so you have them on hand to post as part of your marketing plan.
Cons of Instagram Reels
If your audience is on Instagram, you might expect they’re already using and watching reels but that might not be the case. Currently, reels aren’t that easy to discover. You have to navigate to the Reels feed via the Explore page, so until Reels has its own feed (which is coming soon), not all users will have even discovered them just yet.
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One big downside of reels is that currently you can’t schedule them. So if that’s a key element of your marketing strategy, this might not be the right time to introduce this new placement into your content marketing.
Instagram Reels vs. Instagram Stories and IGTV
In an ideal world, you’d be creating content for all of Instagram’s placements. But when that isn’t possible, you may need to choose where to focus your attention. If you’re looking at Reels vs. Stories, Reels provides many benefits that Stories currently doesn’t offer.
Benefits of Instagram Reels vs. Stories and IGTV
Reels Are Easy to Share
Unless you’re tagged in a story, you currently can’t share someone else’s story content to your own story. Plus, you can’t share stories to your grid. So as the creator, your reach is limited, and as the person tagged, you aren’t able to harness the power of that content on the other placements available on the platform.
Reels, on the other hand, offers great sharing functionality. As the creator, you can share your reels to your story and grid. And viewers can easily share reels to their stories, allowing you to reach wider and new audiences much quicker.
Reels Offer More Visibility Potential via Multiple Hashtag Feeds
Similar to a grid post, you can use a maximum of 30 Instagram hashtags for a reel. Given the large 2,000-character limit, you have the space to write good, engaging copy alongside your hashtags. Stories, on the other hand, only allows you to add 10 hashtags, limiting your ability to reach a wider audience.
The beauty is that your reel may feature in some, if not all, of your hashtag feeds, so again, the ability to be seen by more people is appealing for any business. Because reels are permanent, the chances of your content being discovered in that hashtag feed are far higher than in the Stories hashtag feed.
You Can Create Retargeting Audiences From Reels
Because Reels is still fairly new, it’s not yet being monetized by Facebook. This means there are currently no ads in the feed—though that’s likely to change as Reels becomes more popular. While you can’t currently advertise in the Reels feed, you can use reels to enhance your advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
Unlike Stories or IGTV, reels can be used to create video views custom audiences for retargeting, which is a game-changer if you’re using Facebook and Instagram ads as part of your marketing strategy. If your audience is reacting well to your Reels content, you can retarget them to take the next step toward buying from you.
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However, it’s important to note that until we know more about how the Reels algorithm works, your content could be reaching audiences that aren’t typically your ideal. Keep this in mind when creating retargeting audiences of video views, and consider only retargeting people who have watched a large percentage of your 15-second reels.
Cons of Instagram Reels vs. Stories and IGTV
One downside of Reels is that you can’t currently link to an outside source, while Stories lets you add a swipe-up link once you have 10,000 followers. So retargeting your viewers offers the perfect solution to show them clickable content.
Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
The big question on marketers’ minds is, “Should I use TikTok or Instagram Reels?” The answer is: It depends. In TikTok’s audience of over 800 million users, 41% are between the ages of 16 and 24. If you’re specifically trying to reach that demographic, TikTok is the place to be. In comparison, of Instagram’s over 1 billion active users, 29% are between 18 and 24.
If you’ve already built a loyal following and are getting results from TikTok, you’d be wise to stick with that platform while also testing reels to see if you can get similar or better results.
If your aim is to grow your audience and reach more people in a wider demographic, Reels offers some good advantages for creators over TikTok. While the two platforms are very similar (as Instagram has a history of replicating other platforms within its app), there are some key differences.
Benefits of Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
Instagram Reels offers some huge opportunities and features available to businesses that aren’t seen (yet) on TikTok.
Reels Offers 14x the Character Count in Descriptions
Reels lets you add more characters and hashtags in the description. While TikTok allows 150 characters total, Reels allows 2,200, which gives you great potential to widen your reach.
Reels Viewers Can Easily Consume a Variety of Brand Content Without Leaving the Platform
TikTok keeps people in the app for a long time by showing them an endless stream of videos via a unique algorithm. But once users have seen enough, they leave the app.
Instagram, on the other hand, offers multiple places to view content. Users might leave the Reels feed and move on to watch Stories or scroll down their news feeds, thus consuming more content on the platform.
Reels’ Content Style Remains Undetermined
On TikTok, it can be hard to get results from unique content in a continuous feed of people dancing, but Reels has yet to establish its own style. As an early adopter of Reels, you could help influence that style.
Instagram is a place where creators are already sharing a wider variety of content and the landscape is constantly shifting. Once Reels grows in popularity, we may see more creativity than we currently do on TikTok.
Pro Tip: TikTok users mainly watch video with the sound on, which could be due to the app playing sound as soon as you open it. However, Instagram doesn’t have that feature and most videos are consumed with no sound. So if you’re using reels to deliver information, add captions to ensure your message is delivered. From an accessibility perspective, you should be doing this everywhere, including TikTok.
Cons of Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
Reels has a long way to go when it comes to analytics and currently the only stats you can see are views, likes, and comments. Compare this to TikTok’s fairly comprehensive analytics (for your account and individual posts), as shown here:
With limited metrics, your goals need to be measurable. You can’t currently see if reels add to your follower count or drive traffic via your bio. So traffic and sales shouldn’t be the goal when creating reels. Instead, consider reels as brand awareness content and measure success accordingly.
There’s still a long way to go to ensure Instagram Reels offers everything businesses need to reach their audience in a way that can result in sales. But early adoption of Reels as a content type could be great if you’re trying to reach new audiences to grow brand awareness.
Businesses that grab the opportunity to use Reels right away will contribute to defining the future of the content on the platform, hopefully giving it a reputation as more than people “just dancing,” which has been a perception of TikTok.
For those who prefer to spend all their time and energy on one platform, Reels is much more appealing, but do you want all your eggs in one basket, so to speak? Does having five placement opportunities on Instagram really rival TikTok? Is Instagram bigger than that? There are lots of questions that have yet to be answered and only time will tell us how small businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs can use this placement.
With more analytics and functionality tweaks sure to come in the future, Reels will certainly continue to encourage people to use Instagram in a whole new way.
What do you think? Does incorporating Instagram Reels into your marketing make sense for your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.