We covered the difference between TikTok and Reels as platforms in a previous post. Now, it’s time to chat about how the varying demographics and platform features differentiate content. In other words, we’re about to uncover exactly what makes a TikTok different from an Instagram Reel.
The most obvious differences between TikTok and Instagram content stem from the platform differences. Example: TikTok allows longer video duration, making longer TikToks more common than longer Instagram Reels.
Those technical differences barely scratch the surface of the differentiation you need to create a successful strategy across both platforms.
What works on TikTok will probably work on Reels, but not the other way around. Instagram content is a hodgepodge of small business owners marketing their products, creators appeasing the algorithm to boost their reach, and copycat TikTok content. TikTok content is entertainment focused and heavy on humor.
If your audience lives on Instagram and TikTok, you can create a social media strategy that churns out high-performing content that works for both platforms.
Due to their time constraints, Reels get to the point right away. You’ll find a lot more fast-moving, pointing-at-text videos where the person does utter a single word. TikTokers have time to slow down and explain. They’re more likely to use text for captions rather than letting it carry their content.
If you were creating an explainer video on both platforms, you might use the same text, but use the pointing method on Reels and actually explain the concept verbally on TikTok. The video concept and script remain the same, but the actual video varies to fit the style of each platform.
Instagram Reels is no stranger to reposted TikTok content. Instagram announced that a watermark is a no-no for the algorithm, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save and re-edit your clips on Instagram after posting the video to TikTok.
When you do this, you might have to cut the video a bit shorter to fit Instagram’s 90-second rule.
TikTok’s audiences are a lot more niche than Instagram’s. On TikTok, you can reach a hyper-specific subsect of your target audience. There are extremely specific communities all over the platform, often discoverable through a set of commonly used hashtags. Instagram does have communities, but they aren’t nearly as specific.
Here’s the perfect example: on TikTok, you can reach the “accountant” community. It’s a community of people discussing life as adult entertainment workers. Search up #accountant on TikTok and you’ll find videos that also use #strippatok.
Another example: the “shifttok” community. They create content about how they believe they can shift into another universe or dimension (even a fictional one).
It really doesn’t get more niche than that.
How does this apply to your content strategy? You can hit your general target audience on Instagram Reels, then dig into the niche audiences on TikTok. That means one Reel might turn into four TikToks, each edited, captioned, and tagged a bit differently.
Duolingo is notorious for its TikTok strategy. The company has a bit of crossover between TikTok and Reels content, like the video below:
Overall, they post to Reels less frequently, and most of the Reels content educates the viewer on brand events, product features, the office, etc. It’s quite different from the entertainment-focused, slightly unhinged Duo content they post to TikTok on the daily.
Sephora posts about as frequently to Reels as they do TikTok, with little to no crossover.
Here’s what they do on TikTok:
And here’s what they do on Insta:
They seem to post from the same content buckets, but the vibe for TikTok and Instagram are totally different. Their Instagram content is more soothing and seems closer to traditional product ads. Their TikTok content hones in on the brand's wild side and utilizes more trends.
Every brand is different. How you develop your individual TikTok and Instagram content strategy depends on your audience and your team's creative style. Have fun, experiment, and find out what works best for your audience on both platforms. It will take some trial and error, but we’ve got your back! Snag our Video Strategy guide and jumpstart your next brainstorming session with our weekly trending content ideas.