Instagram Reels: Can it Overtake TikTok?

For more information about why TikTok may be banned, check out last week’s blog here.

Hot on the heels of the potential TikTok ban in the United States, Instagram has introduced “Reels”, a short-form content option meant to compete with and potentially replace the social media giant. This function can be accessed within the Instagram application, and contains many of the same features as TikTok, namely the ability to add background audio, use AR effects, and manipulate the speed of video playback. While the negotiation between TikTok parent company Bytedance and Microsoft continues, Instagram has taken the opportunity to provide what may end up becoming the replacement platform, all within an app that most TikTok users likely already use. Many social media users are questioning whether Reels has the potential to overtake TikTok, with or without a ban. Others are preparing for what they see as an inevitable ban of TikTok and racing to the new platform. In this blog, we will cover some of the key questions surrounding TikTok and Reels, and provide our take on whether or not Reels can emerge as the go-to platform for short-form content. 

Does it matter that TikTok came first? 

This question comes up a lot when discussing social media platforms. With a relatively short history to analyze, the social media industry increasingly suggests that users will eventually discard popular platforms and replace them with new ones as they come up. Companies like Myspace and Vine are examples of platforms that could not stand the test of time and have since disappeared from the public domain. However, while people would suggest that Facebook is going the same route, Facebook remains the largest platform in social media, boasting the highest user count out of all major social media platforms. TikTok could go one of either direction; maintaining a high user count due to its original ingenuity and availability, or being replaced by the newer, fresher application. Of course if the ban goes through, TikTok will almost certainly wither away here in the United States, but assuming that does not happen, TikTok has the level of user adoption and brand loyalty that suggests that Reels does not immediately have a chance to convert the majority of its user base. One important thing to note is that users of TikTok tend to be more in Generation Z (1995-2015), while Instagram users are more within the Millennial generation (1981-1995). Of course there is some crossover between the two platforms, but it is important to understand the audience each application tends to target. 

Does it help that Reels is already in the Instagram App?

Absolutely. Instead of asking users to adopt a brand new platform, Instagram has baked the new feature into an update which typically requires no user involvement to download. Companies are increasingly using this tactic of centralizing features into one application versus splitting them into multiple applications to avoid the poor user experience of having to hop around different applications to perform different functions. 

Can Reels take over TikTok?

Instagram has over 1 billion users, while TikTok’s latest user count is around 500 million active users. This would suggest that Reels is set up for more success based on a higher user count, but user adoption is not always something that is easy to count on. There is no meaningful way to track the fervency of a user base, but based on the reactions to the announcement of a potential ban, TikTok seems to have a user base that is highly dedicated to the platform. Our analysis here at BloomSocial is that TikTok will remain the main platform for short-form content, but only if the ban does not go through. If TikTok gets removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store due to the security concerns, Reels is well positioned to capture the market for short-form content. 

Have more questions about Instagram and TikTok? Send us an email at to learn more.

For more information about why Tik Tok may be banned, check out last week’s blog here

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