TikTok vs Reels: Short-Form Video Strategy

This shift in consumer preference from photos to video requires a new strategy to engage and attract new audiences.

Short-form video is dominating the social media landscape. Since exploding in popularity during the first wave of the pandemic, TikTok has rapidly grown to 750 million monthly users and is the third-largest social network behind Facebook and Instagram. In response, Instagram launched Reels and adjusted its feed algorithm to bite-sized video clips to secure its reign as the king of content. This shift in consumer preference from photos to video requires a new strategy to engage and attract new audiences. While similar in nature, TikTok and Instagram Reels are vastly different in communication style, production value, and audience alignment. 

Brands seeking to harness the power of video content have a choice, focus on TikTok or Instagram Reels. These platforms require time, energy, effort, and a dedicated strategy to engage with audiences. To decide which is best for your brand, consider your target consumer, engagement style/aesthetic, and production resources available for content.

Know Your Audience 

Create a consumer persona, considering age, interests, and aesthetics to identify which platform your target customer is most active on, TikTok or Instagram. According to TikTok, 80 percent of users are between 16 and 34 years old. If your brand’s key demographics are younger members of Gen-Z, TikTok is where you want to be. Instagram has almost 75 percent of users over the age of 25. It is a platform that has grown and matured since being founded in 2010. Brand content on each platform reflects its medium. 

Develop content exclusively and intentionally for each channel. Tone and style are keys to communicating with fans on TikTok and Instagram. TikTok has a unique language filled with inside jokes, trends, and references, so adapt your brand to seem authentic and “understand the assignment.” 

Automotive brands provide stark differences in creating consumer-aligned content. Hyundai’s TikTok participates in the latest challenges and viral campaigns. This strategy makes them seem friendly, welcoming, and accessible to first-time drivers and car owners. Luxury brands prefer investing in Instagram Reels and content that evokes strong feelings of emotion and wanting. Porshe utilizes high-quality, drone-shot videos with cars traveling through the spectacular alpine passes in the Swiss Alps.

Brand Aesthetic

Is your brand casual/inviting like a party or sophisticated/serious like a museum? Highly produced, well-edited, and thoughtful content thrives on Instagram, whereas relatable, comedic, and narrative storytelling is best-suited on TikTok. 

Match your brand’s energy on social media with real-life experiences and expectations. A fast-casual restaurant like Chipotle has a friendly, upbeat, and fun atmosphere, so they use humor on TikTok to connect with their ideal target market, college students and younger millennial professionals. 

Make a logical connection with your audience. Brands that represent quality goods with an elevated ambiance should lean into content that highlights those values and the benefits. Premium health food store Erewhon expresses its value by talking about specific ingredients in recipes and the health benefits of its products. Rather than relying on fun and trends, the brand nurtures relationships by being a resource for wellness, describing vitamin intake necessary for a balanced life. 

Connect Influencers & Events

Look to future events for inspiration on developing a video strategy by crossing over to markets outside your niche. In a brilliant move, Qatar Airlines put together an influencer campaign with world-famous soccer star Neymar JR, with 171 M followers. The star athlete’s reach is enormous and magnified due to Qatar serving as the host of the Fifa World Cup 2022 in November. 

Brands should pay attention to music pop-culture references for opportunities to weave them into a short-form video strategy. The Crocs #ThousandDollarCrocs campaign came about after the musician Post Malone mentioned the brand in his track “Wow.” Capitalizing on this opportunity, the brand’s TikTok page created multiple videos resulting in over 100K views.

That Content x Influencer Sweet Spot 

Experiment with both platforms. TikTok creators have described the app as a drawing board and testing ground for ideas. Content that performs well on TikTok may find success on Instagram Reels. 

Content is not a one-and-done. Growing a brand’s social media presence requires frequent updates to keep followers engaged. Once your strategy is clear, select creators aligned with your base audience and company values. And remember, it’s more affordable to hire influencers than a full production studio.

The Social Standard is a full-service influencer marketing agency driven by setting the standard for the industry and then reaching even higher. Our team is obsessed with finding the right influencers for our partners. But we are way more than just matchmakers. We are strategists that develop effective campaigns to delight, inspire, entertain and hit business goals. From concept to seamless execution, we work with clients such as Adobe, FiatChrysler, L’Oreal, Motorola and others, positioning them as pioneers in innovative influencer marketing and helping talent thrive in the creator economy. Want to learn more about our agency’s work? Shoot us an email at We’d love to collaborate.