Are TikTok Videos Killing Instagram Reels?
Tiktok Videos

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To do Instagram Reels or TikTok Video? That is the question for brands doing social media and influencer marketing in 2024. There’s been a surge in brands sharing video content across Meta and TikTok. Meta recently announced that its algorithm will no longer promote content posted on other platforms. Users can still see reposted content if they follow the brand or influencer, but it won’t be promoted on Instagram’s Explore page –– particularly not when it sports a watermark from another platform.

The virality of video content has been blamed for the shortening attention spans of modern adults, with some blaming TikTok alone for the reduced attention spans of today’s youth. The truth, however, is a bit more nuanced. Sure, video streaming platforms like TikTok feed the global desire for a constant stream of ever-changing content. Even if you don’t believe that what people choose to do to their dopamine receptors is their own business, TikTok Video offers the potential for much longer content than Instagram Reels.

Online consumers want brands to use video-sharing platforms to entertain them, make them laugh, or pique their interest in the products.  In an ongoing war, are TikTok Videos killing Instagram Reels? TikTok has a few clear advantages for creators. Let’s review those advantages and if they mean that Meta-owned Instagram will start to lose out on influencer marketing in 2024. We’ll also talk about what recent developments in Instagram Reels and TikTok videos mean for consumer search intent on the platforms. Let’s get into it.

Brands and Influencers

TikTok is known for hosting massive viral video trends, influencer marketing superstars, lip-syncing, and dancing videos. While Instagram Reels has been around since 2020, TikTok was actually founded in 2016. As such, at the advent of the pandemic, Instagram’s video features were still in their inception phase while TikTok began actively amassing traffic. Based on user reports of their engagement and earning potential on both TikTok Video and Instagram Reels, Instagram never quite caught up with TikTok’s pace of growth.

There’s a growing disparity between influencers’ ability to earn money on TikTok and Instagram. Influencers on TikTok earn about 18 percent more per engagement than other social media platforms. But TikTok isn’t only more lucrative for influencers; some brands report experiencing a whopping 10x engagement boost on TikTok over Instagram Reels.

Instagram’s overall engagement increased by only 3.86 percent last year. However, Instagram Reels was successful as a standalone in 2023, growing engagement rates within the app by 22 percent. There’s a strong chance that Instagram is to Gen Z, what Facebook was to millennials — a foundational platform where we keep up with family and elders, not where we go for trends or discovery.

The Video Length Award Goes to TikTok

When TikTok started, it only offered 15-second video clips. However, the platform has gradually increased video length to 10 minutes. Videos on Instagram Reels currently only go up to 60 seconds. So, the potential length of promotional video content is another check mark in TikTok’s plus column.

The virality of video content has been blamed for the shortening attention spans of modern adults, with some blaming TikTok alone for the reduced attention spans of today’s youth. The truth, however, is a bit more nuanced. Sure, video streaming platforms like TikTok feed the global desire for a constant stream of ever-changing content. Even if you don’t believe that what people choose to do to their dopamine receptors is their own business, TikTok Video offers the potential for much longer content than Instagram Reels.

The Erosion of Consumer Attention Spans

Here’s where it gets interesting. The average adult’s attention span is now just 8.25 seconds. Although some studies show that the attention spans of certain individuals can last up to 6 hours, our overall attention span is decreasing with time. Nearly 50 percent of users surveyed by TikTok said that videos longer than 60 seconds were “stressful.” For these customers, Instagram Reels’ one-minute cutoff time would be more than sufficient.

Intent, or the reason that most people navigate to a brand or retailer’s social media page is “discovery.” So, many consumers want brands to keep it light and snappy. But then there’s the flip side of the coin: half of consumers want, or demand, longform video content from brands.

TikTok Video vs Instagram Reels

The immediate difference between TikTok Video and Instagram Reels is the type of content on each platform. While Instagram has been building up its video features, it still showcases more stagnant imagery and content than TikTok. Instagram and TikTok both target a younger audience, but TikTok’s main user demographic is 18 to 24 years of age. Instagram, on the other hand, has more users fbetween 25 to 34 years of age, with some users in their late 30s and 40s.

TikTok has more female users, whereas Instagram hosts slightly more men. Instagram’s millennial users favor a more refined aesthetic than the rawness of TikTok. So, even though TikTok offers a wide range of filters, users are more likely to forego them in favor of transparency. TikTok has an extensive music library that offers more original artists than Instagram’s options. It also has a “Duet” feature that lets users sing or debate with other users on the platform.

Where TikTok is raw, human, and collaborative, Instagram is idealistic and refined. Instagram influencers are more likely to post aspirational, edited photos than TikTok users, which favor the irreverent unfiltered content that’s made the app famous.

Looking Forward: An App for All Seasons

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to whether a brand should create video content on TikTok, Instagram, or both. The decision will depend on the brand itself, its target audience, inventory, and the length and type of content it wants to create. Rather than diminishing the quality of content by reposting it from another app, the platforms should be treated individually––with varied video, written content, and hashtags.

As new reports of the sales potential of TikTok video and Instagram Reels come in, video streaming platforms may become oversaturated marketplaces. There could come a time when brands and influencers face too much competition on both streaming platforms. However, as of now, they’re the places to be to directly target next-gen consumers.

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