In 2021, TikTok and Instagram were the most downloaded apps in the world. In fact, no app has seen more downloads than TikTok since 2018. This left Instagram with the challenge of how to measure up. Their solution? Instagram Reels.

What are Instagram Reels?

The main difference between TikTok and Instagram is their content – TikTok is exclusively a video-sharing app. Although Instagram allowed their users to post videos since 2013, the platform was quite simple. In 2020, Instagram announced Instagram Reels as “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.”

However, it seems Instagram’s attempt to gain TikTok’s success failed, with users voicing their concerns for the app’s increased emphasis on videos.

The Backlash

Although Instagram Reels are similar to TikTok videos, Instagram users did not enjoy what they felt was an unwelcome intrusion to a primarily photo-based app. When photographer Tati Bruening posted a call to “Make Instagram Instagram Again” this past July, millions of users agreed. Once celebrities like the Kardashians chimed in, it seems Instagram’s founders got serious about rolling back these changes.

Tati Bruening's "Make Instagram Instagram Again" post shared to Kylie Jenner's Instagram Story

Kylie Jenner, @kyliejenner, shares Tati Bruening’s, @illumitati, post

One might ask why users so strongly dislike videos on Instagram while loving them on TikTok. In short, it appears that Instagram users want to maintain the intimacy of Instagram – following close friends, sharing meaningful photos. TikTok is a great video-sharing app, but its strength most definitely does not come in its “Friends Only” page – rather, it’s in the vastness of the “For You Page,” which can show you anyone and everyone’s content from all over the globe. Instagram started off as an app for photo-sharing among friends, and they should play to these strengths.

Where Should I Post My Videos?

None of this is to say that businesses should not use Instagram Reels. Videos are effective on both apps, and for businesses who are less interested in appealing to Gen Z’s (sometimes nonsensical) humor, Instagram might even be a better choice. However, where you place your videos truly depends on your content and your audience.

In fact, some of the most popular Instagram Reels are videos that were created on TikTok and simply reposted to Instagram. On the one hand, this may be good for brands who want to maintain a consistent message and whose target audiences on both apps are similar. On the other, this repetition may strengthen some Instagram users’ discontent for Reels, with some seeing it as just another copy of TikTok.

TikTok videos are best suited for short and sweet calls to action. Branding doesn’t necessarily have to be about the “brand” itself. Videos about social media interns struggling to come up with content can sometimes be all the content you need. Of course, TikTok is also best known for its humor. If you’re looking to stay on top of video trends, this is the place to prove it.

Instagram Reels are great for more traditional content. Since the app itself deprioritizes videos with TikTok’s watermark, it may not be the best app for videos using songs or trends that first went viral on TikTok. Still, Reels are just one aspect of Instagram, meaning they should only be one aspect of your whole Instagram page. So, continue to share your images, and try adding some Reels to the mix.

Overall, businesses should be mindful of the differences between the two apps. There is no right or wrong decision. Tailoring your video content to one app or the other can help your advertising seem more authentic and personal, which always works best. Have some fun with it!