Reels vs TikTok: How Brands Can Make the Most of These Platforms

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A recent analysis of 81 million posts revealed that since the launch of Instagram Reels, engagement on regular, in-feed posts has dropped by 44%. This sudden drop in engagement has left brands and influencers feeling frazzled about incorporating this feature into their content strategy in a timely manner. After all, it practically feels like Instagram Reels are the only way to get discovered on the app nowadays.

So let’s first consider why Instagram is pushing IG Reels so heavily. You guessed it… we have the competing social media platform, TikTok, to thank for that. With over one billion users, TikTok has been deemed the most downloaded app in the world, and Instagram is doing what they can with their algorithm to keep up with the video content craze and stay relevant.

As a social media agency, we’ve preached about the value of Instagram Reels and TikTok before, but we also understand that the recent dire need for video content is unprecedented, and brands are struggling to figure out how to implement and make the most of these tools for their account in an affordable, efficient way. Read on for five things to keep in mind when incorporating Reels and TikTok into your social media strategy!

Establish your nine content pillars

First, no matter the platform or feature, consistency is always key. The best way to ensure consistency as a brand or influencer is to establish your nine content pillars, the areas of content that you post about most on Instagram and TikTok. Think of them as the categories on your blog or in your online shop. 

For our social media agency, some of our content pillars include our services, clients, team, social media tips, self-care tips, and more. Anything that goes outside of your established content pillars should NOT be posted on your TikTok or Instagram, including your Instagram Reels. 

Think about it like this: why bother reaching an audience with content that is unrelated to the rest of your profile? Once users discover and like your video, they can easily tap on your profile to see other quality content from you. If they like what they see, they’ll follow for more, so it’s important to keep your content on-brand and consistent!

Be timely with Instagram reels and TikTok trends

Next, play into the trends. Incorporating trending audio and filters into your TikToks and Instagram Reels is a great strategy for gaining exposure. Because the use of this content is so widespread, it makes it easier for your videos to be discovered by more users.

The first step to creating on-trend content is to consume on-trend content. Take some time each week to scroll through social media and note the Instagram and TikTok trends you’re seeing. 

Rather than watching the short clips like you typically would for entertainment purposes, view them through the lens of a content creator. How can you put your own twist on these trends in a way that is relevant to your business? How can you utilize one of the currently trending sounds to get in front of a new audience? 

When it comes to trends on Instagram Reels and TikTok, it’s important to be agile as a brand or influencer. The pace of the platforms is quick, and the lifespan of a trend can span from as long as a few months to as short as a few days, so it’s critical to act fast and take full advantage of the trend’s current virality and reach.

Keep in mind, however, that while trends are great for discoverability, when it comes to seeking a max return on investment, only 20% of your content should be trendy and the other 80% should provide value and be informative. This could be through tutorials, transformations, case studies, and more. This creates the opportunity for you to produce original audio, which can also greatly benefit your account because the more users who use your sound, the more credit and exposure your account receives.

Discover your next viral collaboration with GRIN’s innovative TikTok creator search function. Try it and watch your brand soar on TikTok. Book a demo today!

influencer recording a video before deciding on reels vs TikTok or both

Leverage social media SEO

If you thought discoverability on TikTok and Instagram Reels couldn’t get any better, wait until you read this next statistic. At a recent conference, Senior Vice President of Google Knowledge and Information, Prabhakar Raghavan, shared that about 40% of young people no longer turn to Google Maps or Search when looking for information – they go to TikTok or Instagram. If leveraging social media SEO wasn’t previously a part of your TikTok and Instagram strategy, trust us when we say that now is the time to get started. 

Start by identifying keywords that your audience is actually searching for. To do so, we love using the search bar’s predictive text to our advantage. Start by typing in your base keyword and then see what other keywords each social platform suggests in the drop-down list. This list is based on data that users are most commonly searching for at the time of your research. 

Once your keywords are identified, optimize your content for search engines by incorporating them in your on-screen text, automated closed captions, written caption, and hashtags. 

Social media content tips: Work smarter, not harder

We’ll be the first to admit that we know how time-consuming it can be to incorporate these features into your content strategy. And for that, we have one piece of advice: Work smarter, not harder. 

Whenever you find yourself making video content, always produce the content in bulk. Batch creating Instagram Reels and TikToks will not only save you time, but it will also keep you on a consistent posting schedule.

Remember, 80% of your content should provide value, so consider re-purposing old blogs or social posts as informative Reels or TikToks. Additionally, if you share one piece of content on TikTok, be sure to share it to Instagram Reels and vice versa. We love using SnapTik and Snapinsta to download content directly from each platform without the watermark!

Lastly, if you don’t have the time or resources to create video content? Collaborate with influencers who can provide that deliverable for you. We love looking to platforms like GRIN to streamline our influencer outreach processes.

Review analytics

Last and most importantly, to make the most of TikTok and Instagram Reels, always refer back to data. At Homemade Social, we routinely track our social media analytics in order to see what we’re doing well and where there is room for improvement. 

When tracking analytics for social media, take note of what is doing well and continue doing it. Is there a certain style of video that appears to outperform the rest? If something is not resonating with your audience as expected, consider trying out something else! 

Repeat this process each time when tracking monthly social media analytics to continue optimizing your strategy.

Wrapping up reels vs TikTok

We hope you found this blog post helpful in learning how to make the most of Instagram Reels and TikTok! If you’re ready to start incorporating these features into your content strategy, check out Homemade Social’s free 30 Days of Reels Ideas, Instagram Reels & TikTok Bundle, ReelTok Course, or apply to have us manage your brand’s social media accounts for you.

Are you ready to stake your claim in the creator economy? Discover more helpful tips and resources from the experts at GRIN: Creator Management Learning Center

Updated: September 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Instagram Reels and TikTok videos are very similar, but they do have some small differences. They both are short-form videos, but Reels have a maximum length of 90 seconds, while TikToks can be as long as 10 minutes. Also, both TikToks and Reels only allow for a very short caption and require the creator to put the majority of the content into the actual video. 

In general, TikToks tend to earn more engagement than Instagram Reels. In fact, documents from Meta reveal that people spend 11x more hours watching TikToks than they do Reels. However, since they are both short-form videos, many creators and brands repurpose their TikToks as Instagram Reels and vice versa, so they can reap the benefits of both. 

Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020 after TikTok had started to garner some major attention. However, people had been posting video content on Instagram long before this with feed videos, Stories, and IGTV. It’s likely that Instagram took some inspiration from TikTok’s successful user interface, but it’s not an exact copy either. 

It’s easier to go viral on TikTok since its algorithm focuses more on showing videos to people it thinks will like them, while Instagram’s algorithm focuses more on affinity, or who you’re following. Essentially, this means that you have an easier time reaching people who don’t already follow you on TikTok than on Instagram. 

Plus, as users spend more time on TikTok, you have a higher chance of being seen in general. 

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Written by Homemade Social

Homemade Social is a white-glove, full-service marketing agency that works hands-on with ecommerce and a variety of lifestyle brands. Results-driven at their core, their team combines their unique talents and expertise to create holistic digital strategies that are backed by data, supported by trends, and directly tied to client goals.

All-in-one creator management platform helping ecommerce companies build more valuable brands through the power of creator partnerships.

© Grin Technologies Inc. 2022. All rights reserved.

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