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Metrics rundown: Why exactly are Instagram Reels more popular than TikTok videos?

Metrics rundown: Why exactly are Instagram Reels more popular than TikTok videos?

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When it comes to platforms to market on in 2023, TikTok clearly comes out as a frontrunner with most marketing teams. With over a billion active global users and the ability to influence music, shopping and life choices, TikTok has mastered the art of drawing a user in and giving them both what they want and what they didn't know they wanted. 

So, imagine our surprise when it was found in a recent study that, surprisingly, Instagram Reels is still outperforming TikTok content when comparing median reach, median interactions, and median video views globally. 

Don't miss: Study: Instagram Reels outperform TikTok videos in metrics rundown

According to Emplifi’s Q2 2023 social media behavior and trends report titled its “Unleashing the Power of Video: Key Trends Driving Social Media Engagement”, it was found that TikTok has sustained user growth where the average brand saw a five-fold increase in TikTok followers. However, it also found that Instagram Reels outperformed all other content types on Instagram, generating 55% more interactions than single-image posts and 29% more interactions than standard video posts.

  insta vs tiktok stats

While Reels shared by brands earned 68.25 median interactions per post in Q2, Carousels (multi-image posts) strongly cements itself as the second-best performing post type on Instagram with 66.5 median post interactions.

Interestingly, Instagram Reels succeeds as a short-form video format despite its downward trend in the last five quarters, dropping 30% year-over-year in Q2 2023, compounded with Meta’s recent deprioritisation of Reels which is a call for brands to embrace more than one channel for their video marketing efforts to diversify their social content.

So why exactly are more marketing teams opting to move to IG Reels over TikTok, the answer it would seem might be multi-faceted.

The advantages of an existing user base

For starters, it is important to note that Instagram is an established platform with the advantage of an existing user base, according to Tulus Ciptadi, co-founder and managing director of digital creative agency BSKSBT. "Moreover, the UI and UX of Instagram Reels are more easily accepted by Instagram users, especially those who are older and more accustomed to Instagram's algorithm. This makes them more comfortable using Instagram Reels compared to switching to a new platform such as TikTok," he said. 

He added that besides the number of users and UI/UX, another factor that might cause more marketers to prefer Instagram over TikTok is the fact that the Instagram algorithm is based on who we follow and what IG story and IG feed content we like to consume.

"As a result, the types of videos that are suggested by Instagram Reels feel more diverse than TikTok. Additionally, videos on Instagram Reels have the potential to reach a broader audience compared to TikTok," he said. 

Ciptadi also highlighted that TikTok's relatively new 'yellow basket' feature and live shopping does offer something enticing for marketers but that they need to be wary of making it too excessive. 

"TikTok could limit the number of videos featuring the 'yellow basket' and live shopping that are suggested to users each day, to prevent users from feeling overwhelmed by an inundation of 'advertisements' on their For You Page," he said. 

Different platforms for different reasons

While it is true that Instagram has established itself with brands and that TikTok remains relatively new and possibly resistant to a clear marketing strategy, it is, at the end of the day, crucial for marketers to know how to toggle between platforms as both have their pros and cons. 

For starters, one has to consider the fact that TikTok is facing a potential ban in the US which makes up a considerable market, and that Meta is still very large as a social media network, according to Will Lee, managing director of That Marketing Guy.

"The ability to cross-post IG content on FB, and now Threads, allows marketers to reach out to a secondary demographic," said Will. "That said, numbers are not everything. TikTok has developed a unique culture and undeniably leads trends in a way that Reels cannot replicate," he said.

"Suppose you’re looking for visibility and awareness, then focus on purely reach and impressions - but that sucks the life out of social media. Because social media is less about the media and more about social, and if we are constantly looking at 'how many people are looking at my content' rather than 'how do I engage my audience with my content', then we’re better off running ads," Lee added. 

TikTok, he explained, is banking on its ability to reach more viewers regardless of how many followers one has have - it’s content-led. They should stay the course, and they should succeed, he said. 

As marketers, we should be agile enough and be ready to embark on the following social media platforms when the time comes.

Agreeing with him that marketers need to be agile and that different platforms are beneficial for different reasons, is Danielle Chow, the Singapore country lead at Mad Hat Asia who said that Instagram tends to favour branded content over user generated content.

"Instagram users are made up largely by millennials, who are generally more receptive towards branded content. TikTok, on the other hand, is heavily populated by Gen-Z users, who prefer the authenticity and relatability of user content, and display a lower desire and resonance towards branded content," she said.

She added that Instagram and TikTok both offer different things to different people. "As communications professionals, it’s our job to know how to utilise both platforms based on target audience, and to effectively communicate the brands’ messaging to the relevant audience," she said. 

As for marketers, she said, ask not what the platform can do for you, but what you can do with the platform. She added:

A true marketer will find ways to fully utilise a platform to get their message across, instead of wanting to change the platform for their convenience.

Adding on, Damayantri Arif, co-founder and business and operations director of Kerling noted that it is the job of marketers and brands to understand the intricacies of each platform and to craft specific strategies for each platform. "They should perform numerous experiments — trial and errors, in order to find the best formula," he said. 

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