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Reels vs TikTok vs Shorts

Social media is an important marketing instrument for businesses much more than just a means to connect with consumers. The most popular social networks for businesses nowadays are Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The first one to create a platform for short videos was TikTok, soon after Instagram and YouTube presented their own types of short videos – Reels and Shorts.

Three of them serve the same idea, but obviously they are not clones. Reels, TikTok and Shorts are different, so we need to take a look at the positives and negatives of each of them to make the right choice for what is better to use to reach the target audience or which platform fits your business more.


It has all started with the main trendsetter – TikTok. It was originally created as a lip-sync app called Douyin and was only available to users in China. But the app quickly gained popularity, and in 2017 an international version of the app called TikTok was launched. TikTok has caused a furor in the short video world. Not only has it become one of the most popular social media platforms, but it has attracted people of all ages to share content, create trends, and connect with other people. Even with a billion monthly active users, TikTok would rather call themselves an “entertainment platform” than a social media platform.

In August 2020, Meta launched its type of short videos on Instagram known as Reels in reply to the increasing success and popularity of TikTok among Gen Z users. Reels was founded by two entrepreneurs, Matt and Ryan, who wanted to provide a platform to make it easier for people to express themselves and connect with others through creative video content.

YouTube Shorts was first launched in India in 2020 and in April 2021 was officially made available to users in the US. It was founded in response to the growing demand for short video content. The platform provides users with a new way to create and share short videos that are only a few seconds long. Shorts can be viewed on mobile devices and desktop.

Reels, Shorts and TikTok - what do we know about them?

Instagram Reels is a portrait and landscape mode video that has been a success with the users – first starting with 15-second videos, expanding to 60-second, and most recently 90-second videos. Reels has been designed to be an easy to use platform that will allow users to record, edit and share videos with just a few taps. It also allowed users to customize their videos with music, filters, and other effects.

TikTok is a widely used application for people to share short videos of themselves. It can be up to 10 minutes long. One of the popular features of TikTok is the lip sync feature. Another popular feature is the duet feature, which allows users to collaborate with each other and create videos together. Users can also add filters, effects, and other elements to their videos to make them even more creative.

YouTube Shorts are 1-3 minute vertical videos, and can be in both portrait and landscape mode. One of the most popular features of YouTube Shorts is the multi-segment camera, which allows users to record up to four clips in a single video without having to switch between multiple cameras. There are also special effects such as slow motion and time lapse, as well as options for adding transitions between clips and the same options with text, filters and  music as Reels and TikTok.

Advices to Master Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts Content

Creating content for short videos can be a great way to reach a wider audience and connect with them in a fun and creative way. Here are some tips to help you master these platforms:

  1. Find your niche. The content needs to be relevant and interesting to your subscribers, so before you start creating, it’s important to determine the type of content that resonates with your audience.
  2. Use creative tools: Experiment with different effects, transitions and music, Instagram Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts have a number of creative tools that you can use to make your content stand out. 
  3. Be short. The ideal video length for these platforms is between 15 and 30 seconds, try to stick to those time frames.
  4. Interact with your audience. Reply to comments, ask questions, and encourage people to share your content.

Common Features of the Platforms

All three are short video platforms, so some features are common:

  1. buttons to like, comment, share, and follow accounts
  2. hashtags and accounts tag 
  3. video aspect ratio, resolution, file format
  4. vertical videos 
  5. option of leaving or viewing comments 
  6. identify and learn what videos users like
  7. subtitles can be hidden 
  8. uploading a pre-recorded video clip or even creating their own.

Different Features of the Platforms

Despite their similarities they differ from each other in many ways.

  1. Editing

Video editing features aren’t available for YouTube Shorts like they are for Instagram Reels and TikTok.

Your short-form content will look more appealing if you use TikTok’s AR and green-screen capabilities. Instagram Reels also has a range of effects to make your short-form content more engaging.

In addition to sticker support, Reels and TikTok support polls and mentions, as well as tagging and hashtags.

  1. Video length

When using the YouTube app you can only upload videos that are 15 seconds or less, even though YouTube Shorts typically allows uploads of one minute or less.

At first, TikTok only allowed videos that lasted 60 seconds or less, but then it decided to allow videos lasting three minutes. Recently, the limit was raised again to ten minutes.

The Instagram Reels, at the start, could only be uploaded and recorded for 15 seconds, but now they can be uploaded and recorded for 60 seconds each.

  1. Product Links

TikTok has a “Product Links” feature that allows it to include products that a video author speaks about or uses. With one click viewers can make a purchase. There is also TikTok Shopping in the app; you simply click on a link that takes you to the product purchase page without leaving the TikTok app.

A product shopping link can be placed in Instagram Reels Shopping as well, it allows the user to buy, store, or learn more about the advertised product by simply clicking the View Products button.

This feature is not available in YouTube Shorts at the moment.

Which Platform fits you best as a Brand Marketing Tool?

When it comes to marketing, there is no simple answer to which Platform is most effective for each company. 

It’s obvious that marketing techniques will be different for Reels compared to TikTok since most users on Instagram are slightly older.

According to statistics, most TikTok users log in every day. The app attracts a young audience. A TikTok video needs to tell a story and have catchy music. The video should be informal, less polished, and engaging. Creating a new account for Reels is not necessary; you can simply market to your existing followers. 

Reels and TikTok both have their advantages and disadvantages, so you should choose the one that suits your needs. The best way to figure it out is to come up with a concept and test it.

In terms of fame, YouTube Shorts currently lags behind both Reels and TikTok. Shorts are less useful as a marketing tool.


Whether you’re a manager or a business owner, short videos are on the rise, and they’re not going anywhere; if you understand this trend and take advantage of it, you’ll be able to create engaging, informative videos that will keep audiences engaged.

Due to the variety of editing tools and features available on TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, making such videos has become easier.

You can grow your brand and attract customers no matter which platform you choose. It is possible for your content marketing plan to include one, two, or even all three platforms. 

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