Which is Better: Instagram Reels or TikTok?

Instagram Reels came onto the scene in 2020, in a bid to rival TikTok. But which should you use, is one better than the other, and is there value in using both? Or is there one clear winner when it comes to Reels vs TikTok?

Which is Better: Instagram Reels or TikTok?

Instagram Reels came onto the scene in 2020, in a bid to rival TikTok. But which should you use, is one better than the other, and is there value in using both? Or is there one clear winner when it comes to Reels vs TikTok? Read on to find out.

What’s the difference between TikTok and Instagram Reels?

TikTok and Instagram Reels are super similar in many respects. Both are short-form, vertical video platforms that allow users to browse, share, and interact with each other. Here’s what they do and how they differ!

Side-by-side video

When you’re talking TikTok vs Reels, one of the most obvious comparisons is split-screen, side-by-side video. This means you can record your video alongside another user’s content, so you can film yourself reacting to, or adding to the original clip. TikTok offers its famous Duets, while Instagram Reels does the same thing with a feature it calls Remixes.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok

However, TikTok Duets was the original, and for that reason, it has the edge – the engagement and editing options are much broader. That’s not to say Reels Remixes are bad, though. Insta’s side-by-side video function still lets you:

  • Add your own original audio, or music from Instagram’s catalog
  • Add your own local files, meaning you can use pre-edited footage
  • Film with a host of different filters
  • Change the speed, layout, volume, and length of the original clip
  • Track who’s remixed your content

While Duets wins in a straightforward Instagram Reels vs TikTok bust-up, Remixes are worth checking out. If you’re not on TikTok and want something that replicates the Chinese social media giant’s buzzy, collaborative nature, Remixing on Instagram Reels is a solid replacement. It’s worth noting that as of January 2022, you can now Remix any public Instagram video – not just Reels!

Can’t add music to Instagram Reels?

If you can’t find a particular song in Instagram’s catalog, it’s probably unavailable due to rights or licensing issues. While Instagram’s search function is great, it doesn’t include every song out there. If you want to include a specific track that's not available in-app, you can manually place the song in a clip before adding it to your Reel. As long as you have the correct license and/or rights to feature it in your content, you’re free to use it without any takedowns, copyright claims, or legal trouble.

At Epidemic Sound, we offer 35,000 tracks – all royalty-free, and cleared to use for your Instagram Reels with a valid subscription and connected social account. Check out our catalog below!

Video length

Instagram Reels are short, sharp bursts of video content. They can run for a maximum of 60 seconds, having first launched with a 15-second limit… which sounds familiar!

TikTok used to only allow 15-second clips. It soon expanded to 60-second videos, then three minutes. Now you can cram ten minutes of lip-syncing, cake-baking, bad dancing, or whatever else into your TikTok clips.

TikTok has the edge on short-form viral videos, purely because of the platform’s shareability. However, if you want super long videos, Instagram’s main video function allows hour-long files. But Reels are only currently rolling for one minute!

Stitching things up

TikTok has one trick up its sleeve in the Reels vs TikTok argument: Stitching. This is unique to TikTok, allowing content creators to include specific cuts of other users' videos and stitch them into new ones.

A TikTok Duet or Instagram Reel Remix lets two videos sit side by side. The Stitch function on TikTok is different, allowing five seconds of someone else’s video to take over the entire screen. This is currently something Instagram can’t do in-app; if you have permission to use someone else’s video, you could always create it in a third-party video editing app and upload it as a Reel.

You’ll find paid advertisements and sponsored posts on TikTok, personalized to users’ feeds. Instagram Reels doesn’t have any advertising, which is usually seen as an advantage for viewers! However, if you’re working on a brand collab, adding a 'sponsored' tag to an Instagram Reel is easy.

Reels vs TikTok


Both TikTok and Reels get a big tick for their digital wellness efforts, which users can activate themselves. TikTok has its own Wellness Hub, which connects users to physical and mental health resources within the app. Instagram, and by extension Reels, boasts the Take a Break feature: the app alerts you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on Insta, giving you a nudge to put your phone down, reflect, rest, and do something else.

TikTok’s Screen Time Management tool works the same as Take a Break, and was in the pipeline for years. In 2020, users were targeted (seemingly at random) with videos saying, “Hold on, you've been scrolling for way too long now.” There was no official Screen Time Management tool back then, but it’s clear that users’ wellness has been high on TikTok’s agenda for a while.

Will Reels Replace TikTok?

It’s not likely. While Instagram is an established force and part of Meta, TikTok does its thing extremely well. Many influencers enjoy the smooth, integrated experience of TikTok when it comes to short-form snapshots, and casual users love its lightning-fast, never-ending scrollability. For that reason, it's unlikely that Reels will replace TikTok anytime soon – they both have to put up with each other’s company!

It’s hard to pin down, but many users enjoy TikTok’s more organic feel. The platform is partnered with Shopify, which allows super smooth in-app purchases.

On Reels, you don’t have the same freedom and opportunity as you do with the rest of Instagram. So, while the actual Instagram platform is excellent as a complete package, Reels itself can’t compete with TikTok when it comes to convenience.

Both Instagram and TikTok have more than one billion active monthly users, but people use Instagram for more than just Reels. That short-form, snappy content is TikTok’s bread and butter, while Reels is just one smaller feature within Instagram. For that reason, TikTok is more popular for those kinds of videos.

Is Instagram Reels or TikTok Better?

Is it easier to go viral on TikTok or Instagram?

Most videos you see on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are usually downloaded straight from TikTok. Follower count doesn’t really matter on TikTok – if someone sees your video and spreads the word, that can be all it takes!

On Instagram Reels, virality is still possible but less frequent. Reels often focus on maintaining and growing a current audience, compared to TikTok, which can make anyone an overnight sensation.

Which is better, Reels or TikTok?

The Reels vs TikTok debate depends on what you’re aiming for. TikTok is a quick, effective, versatile platform that can result in your content reaching huge audiences. Instagram Reels is a little more curated, and is best suited for content creators with an established following. Both platforms have their merits, and as a creator, it’s worth exploring both to tap into those different uses!

If you want to level up your TikTok tunes, check us out. Our music is available over there, so you’ll always be able to find the perfect song.

And if you want to use any of our 35,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects on other platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitch, all you have to do is sign up for one of our plans and connect it to your accounts. That’s it! So, why not sign up for a 30-day free trial?

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