TikTok isn’t the only short-form audio-video app in the game anymore. With the addition of Reels, Instagram (owned by Facebook) is set to take a chunk of TikTok’s audience by getting them to stay on their app. 

This isn’t the first time Facebook has attempted to take on TikTok. Remember their app Lasso? You’re not alone. No one really does. It was shut down pretty quickly once Facebook realized no one was going to use it. 

There’s been a bit of confusion about the two apps, which do appear to be identical at first glance. This guide will help you wrap your head around the two.

What’s the difference between TikTok and Reels? 

While they seem exactly alike, there are a few things that make TikTok and Reels different. Reels are limited to 15 seconds, while TikTok is 60 seconds. This makes it difficult to repurpose old TikTok content onto Reels without doing some major editing.

Another difference is that Reels doesn’t require another app. It’s accessed through Instagram’s native app, both through search and the Explore tab. Because the audience is already there and doesn’t need to close out of the app and click to another one to see this content. While this might not seem like a huge deal, keeping the audience on the app is a major differentiating feature. 

Lastly, TikTok’s sound catalog is exponentially larger than what’s available on Reels. Instagram is stringent about third-party sound/music rights and will frequently remove audio from videos if it notices that it’s not original content. Meanwhile. TikTok thrives on third-party audio and has tools to help sync original videos with in-app audio while Reels makes the user do this manually. 

Should my brand be on TikTok or Reels?

At HM, we’re still being cautious about advertising on TikTok from a brand security standpoint. While the platform has gotten better about ad targeting options, there’s still no real way to make sure ads aren’t seen next to explicit content. 

As of the time I’m writing this, there is no specific way to advertise on Reels because there is no way to click out of Instagram through this feature. However, what you can do is use Reels viewership for retargeting audiences, which is a feature TikTok does not have. This is available through Facebook ad manager.


What are some alternatives to TikTok and Reels?

There are a couple of alternatives to TikTok and Reels, but none of them are actual competition yet. The biggest one would be Snapchat. Not to be left out, Snapchat has recently released native audio, giving users the ability to make TikTok-esque videos on their app, as well. They’ve also been testing vertical navigation like TikTok’s, but it doesn’t seem to be the competitor that Reels can be. 

Snapchat isn’t the only app in the game, of course. According to Gary Vaynerchuk, “Smaller companies such as Dubsmash, Triller and Byte are also drawing former TikTok users. Dubsmash and Triller have attracted dancers while younger members of Gen Z seem to prefer Byte.”

We’re curious to see how the battle between TikTok and Reels plays out. Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried out Reels yet, and feel free to reach out to us to learn more about either platform!