An Ultimate Guide: Reels vs TikTok vs YouTube Shorts

These days, it seems like every service offers some sort of TikTok-esque function. The popularity of watching short videos on platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and even the new discovery feed on Spotify is here to stay. Short-form content has not only disrupted social sharing and consumption, but has also spread to social commerce and advertising as more platforms recognise the full-funnel potential of these channels. Brands are growing more innovative with lead generation and conversion strategies as they, like marketers, realise the value of user-generated content (UGC) sharing in expanding brand recognition and community.

You might be wondering, though, which channel is ideal for promoting my company. Although Reels, TikToks, and Shorts may all appear to share a lot of similarities at first glance, there are important differences to consider when determining which format is best for your audience and campaign.


First, we’ll examine the trend-setting app TikTok. TikTok, which launched in 2016, is dominating the market for short videos. TikTok doesn’t consider itself a social networking site, despite having 1.2 billion active monthly users. Instead, they call themselves a “entertainment platform,” and they aim to take on not only the likes of social media giants like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, but also more established OTT video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In the first quarter of 2022, TikTok reported $840 billion in in-app revenue, making it the most profitable app ever. Despite the fact that consumers spend three times as much on OTT streaming as they do on short-form mobile video, Generation Z spends three times as much on the latter.

Instagram Highlight Reels

Instagram’s Reels feature, a short-form, swipeable video format, was introduced in August 2020 as, let’s be honest, a response to TikTok’s growing success and appeal among Gen Z users. Instagram’s new feature, Reels, may appear like a rip-off of TikTok, but it turned out to be a huge success, with even Mark Zuckerberg acknowledging that it was responsible for the majority of Instagram’s growth and was the platform’s most popular type of content.

Reels, which began with 15-second videos and has since expanded to 60-second and 90-second videos, has been a hit with Instagram’s users despite the company’s apparent identity crisis (as evidenced by Adam Mosseri’s announcement that Instagram is not a photo-sharing platform, which had social media managers shaken).

Comparison of Viewership of TikTok, Movies, and Shorts

Display Time

Around 6 hours and 58 minutes, or 40% of a person’s waking day, are spent online by the typical human being. The average American spends 2 hours and 27 minutes each day on social media, or 35 percent of the total. How much time do people typically devote daily to watching these three types of short videos?
As compared to Instagram, TikTok has the highest monthly usage at 19.6 hours. TikTok has a smaller user base, but its users spend more time on the platform each day, an average of 52 minutes around the globe.

Downloads of Apps

In 2021, TikTok had 656 million downloads, making it not only the most popular social media app but also the most popular app overall. This is a decrease of 22.8% from 2020 (perhaps because to the pandemic surge), but it’s still the most of any app category. There’s no telling whether or not a user downloaded Instagram or YouTube just to watch short-form videos, but it’s likely that they did.

Monthly Active Users

This was one of the more elusive data points we had to collect. These numbers are often kept under wraps by companies. Facebook still has more users (2.9 billion) on a monthly basis, but YouTube is quickly catching up (2.5 billion). When looking at monthly active users, Instagram comes in at #4 with 1.4 million and TikTok at #6 with 1 billion.


TikTok’s Ads Manager continues to wow, even as Meta’s Ads Manager Platform has been around longer and is more well-established, because to the company’s dedication to releasing and perfecting innovative features and campaign formats.

For the Purposes of a Group Buy

The term “social commerce” refers to the merging of online shopping with social networking. There were 35.9% of US internet users who made a social commerce purchase in 2021, and by 2025, social media will account for more than 5% of total eCommerce retail sales. Spending on social media marketing by businesses is expected to hit $56 billion by 2022.

Both TikTok and Reels have robust shopping features, and YouTube is expected to launch its own Shorts shopping features later this year. It’s only a matter of time before YouTube adds Live Shopping and shoppable advertisements to its Shorts, which are already available on their longer-form videos.


Engaged followers represent more intent, higher ROAS, and lower CPAs; a large following is nice, but it doesn’t matter if they aren’t interacting with your material. When you divide your total number of engagements by your total number of followers and multiply by 100, you get your engagement rate. Likes, comments, bookmarking, and sharing all count as forms of engagement.

According to Upfluence, among the three platforms, TikTok and micro-influencers in particular have the highest engagement rate. The algorithm was developed with discoverability in mind, so it helps high-quality material get more exposure and encourages highly-viewed films to keep getting promoted.


There are a lot of crucial considerations to make when deciding on which short-form video platform to put your ad budget or resources behind when running video campaigns. Whether you’re looking to promote your campaign on Instagram Reels, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. We’ve compared each app’s sound library, editing features, average engagement, and target demographics to give you a taste of the many variables you should think about.