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Instagram Reels or TikTok: which is best for your brand?

In the world of social networks, 2021 is undoubtedly marked by the rise of a format that is increasingly displayed on our screens: short, creative and viral videos. This strong trend has been accelerating since the first lock-down, a period during which users have needed entertaining content more than ever. Two behemoths are now battling it out in the ring: Instagram with its Reels format, and TikTok. Which one will you choose?

logos of Instagram and TikTok
logos of Instagram and TikTok

TikTok has imposed itself on the podium of the most downloaded social platforms; this has not left the giant Facebook indifferent, which very quickly added the Reels functionality to its Instagram platform.

The world of Influence Marketing must adapt to these new uses. Sequenced video is an engaging way to get people talking about your company. But here’s the thing: as a brand, which platform should you choose between TikTok and Instagram Reels for your future influencer campaigns? Here are some answers.

TikTok is a hit, and Instagram is fighting back with gusto

  • The figures speak for themselves: TikTok is the most downloaded application in the world in 2020 (1). This success has been marked by spikes in downloads and views during periods of lock-downs. Like bubbles of escapism and entertainment, TikTok videos have even appealed to an older demographic than those usually addicted to the platform.
  • The success of the Chinese network is not about to run out of steam and the first 2021 figures are already very promising. In July 2021, TikTok reached 3 billion downloads (1) and is the most downloaded application (excluding games) in the first half of 2021, with an estimated 383 million first downloads (1).
  • Faced with these staggering figures, Instagram’s response with its Reels has also borne fruit. The app, which has already captured over 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide by July 2021(2), has easily made its Instagram Reels popular. Sephora France gets over 453,000 views(3) on each Reel. Another example is the French fashion influencer Junesixtyfive, who got over 2.7 million views(3) on her outfit change transition.

What are the major differences between TikTok and Instagram Reels?

1. TikTok, a dedicated application

The first big difference is that TikTok is a dedicated application, so you have access to the videos as soon as you open the application. On Facebook’s platform, Instagram Reels are a format among others (like Stories) available from the Explorer page or a dedicated tab.

2. More developed features on TikTok

  • On audio, TikTok stands out. It gives its users the possibility to create their own sounds and why not be part of the trends of the moment!
  • If TikTok is now a hit with millennials, it’s partly thanks to its video editing tool. The editing possibilities are almost endless. Instagram also offers a library of effects, which is somewhat less extensive.
  • For a long time, TikTok was the only one to offer videos of up to 60 seconds. This leaves room for creativity and enough time to get a brand message across. Recently, Instagram Reels can also be up to 60 seconds long.

Instagram is scoring points on eCommerce; this is one of the reasons why it has quickly become the No. 1 platform on which brands are investing in influencer marketing. The good news is that the platform now offers shopping functionality to Reels.

3. The race for statistics on both platforms

On the statistics side, things are moving as Instagram has brought some new features to the professional dashboard. Brands and content creators now have access to essential data on the reach of their content: number of accounts reached, number of saves and number of shares. This catches up with its competitor TikTok, which already offered detailed analysis to its users.

Instagram data, combined with purchases from the platform, allows content creators to better reach and monetise their target audiences.

4. A target specific to each social network

Finally, a very important point when defining your influence strategy, the audiences are not the same on TikTok and on Instagram.

  • The TikTok user is a woman, very young, aged between 13 and 24. On Instagram, users are slightly older, between 25 and 34.
  • TikTok users seem to be very active on the platform. In addition to spending time there (1 hour(4) per day on average compared to 30 minutes(5) on Instagram), they willingly interact with the content pushed to them: likes, comments, shares.

The engagement rate on TikTok is exploding, unlike on Instagram where it even tends to regress. The competition is tougher on Instagram as you have to manage to emerge among a community of 1.386 billion(5) monthly active users in the World (versus 732 million(6) monthly active users on Tik Tok)!

An easier and understandable algorithm on TikTok

  • One of the biggest concerns of content creators or brands on social networks is undoubtedly the algorithm. On TikTok, the “For You” page breaks all records by selecting curated content based on viewing history. This is the strength of TikTok: suggesting new videos to members of its community. It doesn’t matter if you are a subscriber to the creators behind the content or not. On Instagram, users instead watch video content from people they are subscribed to. The Explore section and the Reels tab still seem to be very little used.  
  • The good news is that you don’t need to be famous or have a large number of followers to stand out on TikTok. This is a great argument for brands wishing to make themselves known via a viral campaign. The challenge is to create a buzz with engaging content in order to get a favourable score from the platform. The more interactions your content generates, the more chances you have to be visible.

  • Even if Instagram’s algorithm remains opaque, a few good practices can make it easy to emerge thanks to Instagram Reels. Just like on TikTok, videos should be short and creative. The aim is to capture the audience from the very first sequence, thanks to the visuals and audio, so as not to lose them. Storytelling also has its role to play. The sequenced and rhythmic format is perfectly adapted to share didactic content or tutorials, to do teasing, to communicate on the launch of a product or even for fashion brands wishing to show outfit changes.

What influence strategy on TikTok? Is it a platform that all brands can use?

  • First and foremost, you should take the time to define the scope of your influencer campaign on TikTok and, above all, your target audience. If your brand wants to rejuvenate its image and capture a new audience from Generation Z, TikTok is the right place to launch its campaign. As we saw earlier, the audience is younger than on Instagram. Be careful, however, to appropriate the communication codes for this target, or to surround yourself with the right content creators.
  • Then, if your objective is to improve your brand awareness, then TikTok can do the trick. Your content is more likely to be displayed to a larger audience. Remember that its users are primarily looking for entertainment so you need to be creative to stand out. The brand challenge is an excellent way to generate buzz around a product launch for example. The more participants there are, the more visible the challenge is. The challenge is viral and boosts the visibility of a brand when it is clearly associated with it (brand hashtag). It is also the format par excellence for creating engagement with millennials. Each participant spontaneously invites other users to take up the challenge.
  • And if you’re still thinking that your brand has no business being on TikTok, think again. Today, many examples in various sectors prove that everyone can have a place there, provided they master the platform’s codes. Starting with the world of luxury goods, which was quick to invest in TikTok thanks to some very creative campaigns. Gucci has collaborated with renowned female influencers, including Sananas and her 616,000 followers, to showcase its latest collections.

Another example is the northern French retailer La Redoute, which launched the #LaRedouteChallenge with 3 young influencers to rejuvenate its clientele. The result? 255 million views.

While Instagram offers a variety of formats and an interesting shopping feature, TikTok offers the possibility of quickly becoming known to a very young audience, provided you know how to create a buzz.

Whether you choose TikTok or Instagram Reel, this choice must be part of an overall influence strategy. You can also decide to combine the two and try to maximise your visibility. However, remember to adapt your content to each social network.

(1) Source TikTok via Digital Information World
(2) Instagram Ads Audience
(3) Influencer Marketing Hub
(4) TikTok
(5) eMarketer
(6) TikTok
(7) Instagram Ads Audience

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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