Jennifer O'Grady - Head of Agency

Head of Agency

It’s been two weeks since Reels – Instagram’s new short-form video platform – was made available in over 50 countries, and conversation on how the app challenges TikTok continues to deepen.

It didn’t just begin with Reels, though. 

Facebook launched an app called Lasso in late 2018, following a similar short-form video format that we see on TikTok today, in an attempt to rival the social juggernaut. Although unsuccessful, Lasso granted Facebook with great layers of insight into user behaviour, enabling the company to build fresh and effective new platforms, such as Instagram Reels.

So, what are the benefits of Instagram’s new feature?

Unlike TikTok, Reels doesn’t target as many members of the younger ‘Gen Z’ audience, allowing brands to experiment and engage with short-form video content, but on a platform that targets their perfect consumer.

For brands that already work with influencers across Instagram, Reels offers more security when it comes to hitting key audiences, as they already know the demographics and location of those that engage with the account.

As well as this, Instagram and Reels allow brands to maintain a stream of UGC and influencer content that is more polished, as users share high quality imagery and videos to their accounts – something that is important to many brands across different industries.

With Reels being a new feature on Instagram, it offers brands the opportunity to latch onto potentially higher engagement when it comes to influencer content, as the app’s dynamic algorithm favours its new features, and in turn, shares Reels content at the top of the ‘Explore’ page – helping boost the overall popularity of the feature.

But, will Reels be able to successfully rival TikTok, the leader of short-form video?

For many, Reels doesn’t provide an immersive experience like TikTok does, with the new feature being included within an app that houses many different features already – such as IGTV, Instagram Stories and static grid posts.

On the other hand, TikTok encapsulates audiences as soon as they enter the app, and with the ability to quickly swipe through videos tailored to the user, it offers something entertaining, engaging and most importantly, something easy to use.

For brands that are looking to target younger audiences such as Gen Z, TikTok is a great platform to take advantage of. In 2019, TikTok highlighted that 60% of users were born between 1997 and 2012*, offering brands such as Topshop, Hollister and e.l.f cosmetics the perfect opportunity to hit their target market.

It’s worth noting that as long as TikTok stars such as Charli D’Amelio continue to share on the platform, there is always going to be a buzz around TikTok and the type of content that is produced on the app, and can ultimately cause less people to create content on Reels – a platform that TikTok influencers such as Charli are yet to have posted on.

Just a copycat?

When comparing the two platforms, it’s clear that Instagram has definitely created something that follows a similar format to its rival, but by no means is it a direct copy.

Favoured or not, Instagram has used the format of TikTok to create an experience that is included within a single feature, on an app that houses many other features. This has been a formula for success in the past, with Instagram Stories now bigger than Snapchat**.

However, TikTok has evolved into something that can not be easily replicated. The app entertains a massive community of users who enjoy engaging with short-form videos in one place, rather than as a single feature. It’s become the go-to platform for memes and trends, and there’s no signs of the momentum slowing down anytime soon.

*According to

**Based on findings from Sprout Social