Difference Between Reels, TikToks, and YouTube Shorts

With the internet taking over all of our lives, many studies have shown that the average user on the internet has a short attention span. According to Time, the average attention span nowadays is eight seconds.

This is why short videos have gotten very popular in recent years. Social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have grown considerably because of the feature of creating and sharing short videos.
Each of the three platforms has its version of a short video feature. TikTok has “TikToks”, Instagram has “Reels”, and YouTube has “Shorts”. The short video features each have their own benefits and flaws. In this blog post, we go through the differences between Reels, Tiktoks, and Shorts.

What are TikTok Videos?

TikTok is a video-sharing network that caters to short-form video creation and sharing. The platform has been compared to Vine because of the focus on the short form video content format.
TikTok videos tend to be musically driven and often include lip-syncing, dancing, and comedy. Most TikToks have music in them in some form or another, and users will even use the app to find new music to listen to.

TikTok has amassed over 1 billion monthly active users and a lot of those users are Gen Zers. 60% of TikTok users are between the ages 16 and 24yrs old. 80% of users are between the ages of 16 and 34yrs old. Also, a majority of users are female – 60% according to TikTok.

There is something for everyone to watch on TikTok. The platform attempts to understand your taste using artificial intelligence so that it can make accurate content recommendations. Users use TikTok because of the Explore Page that is specific to them and their interests.

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram is a free photo and video-sharing social media network that was created in 2010. It originally was created to share photos with friends and family but has since evolved into a platform for content creators to share all types of visual content with their followers.
Instagram Reels is a recent evolution of the platform that allows Instagram users to create and edit short 15-second videos set to music or other audio. The Instagram Reels feature is very similar to TikTok in terms of functionality and content.
The main difference between the two platforms is that there is a separate Reels tab added to an existing platform while TikTok has made its platform based solely on short-form videos.

More than 2 billion monthly active users engage with Reels on Instagram, and it’s worth noting that Gen Z users largely regard TikToks and Reels to be the same thing. Similar to TikTok, the main age group using Instagram is between 18yrs – 34yrs old.

Instagram is used as a network for users to stay in touch with friends and family but has also become a powerful tool for content creators to gain a following and share their work with the world.
For businesses, Instagram is a platform to connect with potential customers and posting Reels can be a great way for businesses to showcase their products and services in an engaging way.

What are YouTube Shorts?

YouTube is a video-sharing service that allows users to watch, like, share, comment, and upload their own videos. The website is the 2nd most visited website in the world with over 2.6 billion monthly active users.

YouTube has become the go-to platform for online video content with businesses using the platform to market their products and services, and individuals using it to share their stories, talents, and opinions.

YouTube Shorts was launched in 2020 which is a similar feature to Reels and TikToks. It allows users to create and share short-form videos on the website. Users can also add music and effects to their videos. YouTube Shorts has only been released for 2 years but has since accumulated over 5 trillion views.

A staggering 81% of all adults residing in the United States use YouTube, and out of those 2 billion people, many frequently watch YouTube Shorts. YouTube Shorts receives 15 billion views daily from all around the world. The demographic that uses YouTube the most skews toward the Millennial and Gen Z generations. 95% of 18 – 29yr olds and 91% of 30 – 49yr olds actively use YouTube.
YouTube is mainly used as an entertainment platform but has also become a powerful tool for businesses and content creators to market their products and services. For businesses, YouTube can be used to easily connect with potential customers and YouTube Shorts only expands on that opportunity.

TikToks vs Reels vs YouTube Shorts

Video Length

TikTok has come a long way since it first started. Initially, video uploads could only be 15 seconds long. However, they gradually increased the video limit to 60 seconds, and eventually landed on the 10-minute mark that stands today. TikTok videos can be compared to YouTube videos now where the video length can vary from short-form to longer-form.
Instagram Reels follows in TikTok’s footsteps where initially it allowed up to 15-second videos but then increased it to 30 seconds, and currently allows up to 60-second short videos.
YouTube Shorts only allows for 60-second video uploads but if the short video is recorded through the mobile app, it can only go up to 15-seconds long.

Shopping Links

When it comes to eCommerce, Instagram Reels and TikTok are the best platforms to use because of their added feature of shopping links. Shopping links exist on the social media account’s page as a hyperlink to products or services featured on the page.
Instagram allows you to add tagged products into the social media post itself which makes it easy for customers to purchase what they see. You can also add a link in the bio section which leads to an external website.
TikTok, on the flip side, has product links as a feature that allows users to showcase specific products within a video. While viewers are watching a TikTok video, they can click on the view links tab to see what products are showcased to be purchased.
TikTok also has a TikTok Shopping feature which allows users to browse through products from businesses without leaving the app. The Shopping section on a business profile has many different products for customers to browse through; they can select a product, check out in TikTok, or transfer to the business’s website. YouTube Shorts does not have any features for shopping links or product tags.


Content creators come to TikTok because its algorithm makes it simple to go viral. TikTok prioritizes engaging content over anything else which means that the platform promotes videos based on if it’s getting engagement over follower count. There are many trends on TikTok that users can follow to gain a lot of popularity quickly.

On the other hand, Instagram Reels has become one of the best ways to increase brand awareness and engagement. Studies have shown that Reels get more engagement than traditional Instagram posts. For example, when Later began using Reels as a marketing strategy in 2020, they had a 500% increase in engagement in just a year.

YouTube is a website that is known for having a wide variety of videos on the site. This is one of the main reasons why people use YouTube – to find certain videos that they can’t find on other platforms.
YouTube Shorts is a new addition to the site and it is catered toward quick, engaging videos. These videos can act as an ad for the longer videos on your YouTube channel.

In a study done by No Good, they published the same video on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. They found that on TikTok the video easily got the most engagement at 8.89%, Reels got 2.89%, and Shorts got 3.27%.

Creative Tools

Editing and special effects is where YouTube Shorts fails in comparison to Instagram Reels and TikTok videos. There are many different editing tools that TikTok and Instagram provide their users. These tools allow for a wide range of creative freedom when making short videos.
There are two types of editing tools on TikTok and Instagram: tools available before recording the video and after. Before recording, the editing tools are more about changing the image being recorded with effects and filters.
There are green screens, clones, and appearance effects that can be added to the video. After recording, the editing tools are more akin to video editing with transitions, trimming, and zooms.
Instagram has a lot of filters and effects that you can add to the image before recording but after recording you can only add a limited amount of things like stickers, copyrighted music, text, and drawings to the video.

Which Platform is Best For Short Form Video Content?

When it comes to choosing the best platform for your marketing needs, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to quickly gain a lot of engagement, then TikTok is the best platform.
However, depending on the demographic of your target audience, TikTok may not be the best choice. If you’re targeting an older demographic, then using YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels might be a better option.
In many cases, a video created for a YouTube Short can also be used as a Reel or TikTok. Experimenting with each platform is the best way to determine where your audience is and what type of content they are looking for. So, which platform is the best? Only you can decide that through experimentation.

Work With Jungle Films If You Want a Successful Short Form Video Marketing Strategy

Short-form videos have taken social media by storm. As our attention spans shorten on the internet, short videos will only become more popular. This is why it’s important to start using them for your marketing strategy.
At Jungle Films, a video production firm in New Jersey, our seasoned marketing professionals can create engaging and effective short videos for your brand that produces results. We have a wide range of experience in video production and will take on the responsibilities needed to make your brand stand out.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you create a successful social media video campaign to increase brand awareness.

Ariel Flores

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