Instagram Reels: TikTok’s Newest Competition

Instagram Reels: TikTok’s Newest Competition

Trapica Content Team

Industry News
4 min read
May 3, 2021

TikTok has been the focus for users, influencers and businesses; and for a while, it made sense to include it in our marketing strategy. It allows brands to post videos and work with influencers to generate awareness for millions of active users.

A competitor now threatens TikTok’s dominance: Instagram Reels. It’s one thing to have competition, but it’s another to get it from a platform that already has a strong foothold in the market.

How Does Instagram Reels Work?

If you have an Instagram account, go to your camera and you should see an option to create a Reel. There are various editing and creation tools available including:

  • Timer/Countdown - If you don’t want to hold the device while recording, choose this option and set the device up somewhere for hands-free recording.
  • Audio - Depending on the video, you have the option of recording your own audio or choosing from the Instagram music library.
  • Speed - For extra effect, slow down or speed up specific sections of the video; this also works with audio.
  • AR Effects - Add some augmented reality (AR) effects to make the video more interesting and creative.
  • Align - With this option, you can line up several clips before recording another.

When you’re ready, hold the capture button (or set the timer) and record the clip. With Instagram Reels, the clips can be recorded in different ways. You can record several clips on your camera and upload to Instagram for editing, or record on the app.

If the masterpiece is ready to share with the world, move it to the share screen and it will go into a new Reels tab within your profile.

Common Questions Regarding Instagram Reels

In this guide, we want to compare Instagram Reels and TikTok. Will the latter lose its appeal with this Instagram introduction? Let’s start off by answering some common questions that users want to know.

Will I know which videos are Reels and which are normal videos?

Yes, you’ll be able to tell whether you’re on the Explore page or on the home feed. When you tap on a video, the bottom-left corner will have a small icon of a clapboard. When this appears, you’ll know that it’s a Reels video.

Can I see all Reels from a user in one place?

Yes! Users can see all your Reels in one place via a new tab on your profile.

How will Reels look on Instagram?

We wish we had a better way of describing the appearance of Reels without saying it’s like watching a TikTok video. There’s an option to comment and like videos, and users can also tap through to see the audio used. At the moment, we’re uncertain whether users can scroll through videos vertically like the ‘For You’ feed on TikTok. It may be that after watching a video, we need to go back to the Explore page for more.

Can I get Reels in my country?

Interestingly, Reels isn’t a brand-new feature; testing began in Brazil just after Halloween last year. In June, it expanded to Germany and France, and the rollout seemed inevitable after all three countries loved the feature. Now, Instagram Reels is available in the US, the UK, Australia and over 50 other countries.

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

TikTok vs Instagram Reels

Now, the part that you’ve all been waiting for—TikTok vs Instagram Reels. Is TikTok still having problems in the United States? Who will come out on top?

TikTok has welcomed the competition and said, ‘bring it on.’ However, there must be panic in the TikTok camp as the brand comes under mounting pressure from the Trump administration. Since TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, President Trump has speculated that data from US users is being fed back to the Chinese government. With tensions between the two nations already high, many Trump supporters are worried by the company.

Ever since these allegations were made, TikTok has repeatedly said that all US data is held within the United States. They claim that no data is ever passed back to the Chinese government. Despite this, Trump seems intent on ending TikTok’s reign in the United States.

What does this mean? Well, it seems that this will lead to one of two solutions:

  • TikTok getting a ban from the United States
  • An American company buying the brand to continue operations in the US

At the moment, the latter looks more likely with Microsoft interested in acquiring the new tech giant.

The Platforms

In terms of the platforms themselves, TikTok is a standalone app while Reels is an addition; this is an important point to make when comparing the two platforms. When TikTok came onto the scene, it was a fresh name. Reels, however, has the might of Instagram behind it (over one billion active monthly users!).

Millions of Instagram users will have this feature available without signing up for an additional service; all they need to do is update the app. This easy set up could be one reason why Reels outperforms TikTok in this market. While those who left Instagram have a reason to return, those who stayed have even more incentive to ignore the TikTok hype.

As users spend more time on Instagram, the platform appeals to advertisers and it snowballs from here—users, advertisers and influencers all have reason to stay on Instagram.

Room for Two?

There could be room for two; it wouldn’t be the first time two networks in the social niche thrived within a similar market. After all, Twitter has stayed competitive in the presence of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Just because one platform wins doesn’t mean the other will lose. We may very well see TikTok and Instagram Reels succeed in the same market. Facebook  has huge resources to make Reels, or another feature like it, succeed.

Many influencers have enjoyed the growth of TikTok. With the news of Instagram releasing Reels to more countries, many influencers have vowed to stick with TikTok. However, they also understand the power that both Facebook and Instagram have. If Microsoft buys TikTok, we think sensible influencers will split the risk and build profiles on both platforms. If this happens, advertisers can use both.


Earlier in 2020, TikTok extended the maximum video time to one minute, and this could be another reason for users to stay put; Instagram Reels are only fifteen seconds. Furthermore, TikTok may soon have the ability to compete with Instagram on the audio front. Recently, it has been pushing for deals with music labels to extend the audio available to users.

Instagram VP of Product Vishal Shah believes that the AR side of Reels will put it ahead of TikTok. What’s more, he predicts that the value of having Reels inside a platform that users already love will enable Instagram success in this new venture. Shah claims that TikTok innovated the short video content niche even if it didn’t invent it. He believes that a choice for the consumer will lead to better products in the long-term.


With total downloads of around 2.3 billion, TikTok gained viral success in a short amount of time. With over 100 million users in the United States, it has outperformed many American apps and platforms. Facebook is full steam ahead with Reels and hopes it will be the feature that steals back market share from TikTok (unless TikTok shuts down in the U.S.).

Facebook did this once with Snapchat after releasing its Stories feature… Will it do it again with Instagram Reels?

Industry News
4 min read
May 3, 2021