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Instagram Reels vs TikTok: Social Media Growth Strategies

Free Reach to Develop Brand Online

TikTok had a growth-spurt like no other, with it growing 97.5% in number of users in US alone back in 2019, and has continued to grow to the point where it now has over 1 billion users in the world. Together with its growth, it brought a new type of entertainment content to the world known as short-form videos and addicting B-rolls.

And then Zuckerberg copy pasted it on Instagram and put a different name, calling it Reels.

So, which one is the better one for you and your objectives? As AdVertize, a digital marketing agency in Tokyo, we're here to answer that question for you.

Social Media is Now a Paid Game Except for Reels and TikTok Japan

Before we dive into the nit bits, we’d like to blatantly state that much of the social media game has already turned into a paid game. Check out our top social media trends for 2021 for more on the topic.

There’s barely any freebies left to scoop up, and a good example of that is Facebook and Instagram, which by the way are owned by the same company for those who are not very familiar with the topic. Organic reach is dead on Facebook, on its way into the deadly pit for Twitter, and beginning it's journey for Instagram.

But what does this say about Reels and TikTok?

Well, that’s simple: These 2 may be one of the last things right now where you can organically gain traction.

With Reels, as it’s still a new service that Instagram has launched, they want people to use it, hence they have set the algorithm to prioritize/uphold content from users that have posted at least one Reel a week.

We’ve had Donny Kimball, who is the Head of Digital at a digital marketing agency in Tokyo, surpass 7.2 million views on his recent Reels, which was one of his best view stats that he’s achieved. Some of you may say that he’s an influencer with more than 100k followers; that’s correct, but that’s still 72 times the amount of his followers.

The same goes for TikTok, as they love it when people utilize their organic-favoring algorithm strategically for their benefit. Not to mention, they’ve been in the game for quite some time now, however their organic reach power has not died down one bit.

Algorithms of Reels and TikTok Japan

Following the previous point, we'd like to delve deeper into the algorithm side of things. For the time being, they're both great in terms of the algorithm deducing what is good content, and what deserves the viral grace. However, if we were to choose which holds the crown, that would go to TikTok.

You see, when we look at it from a mid-term perspective, Instagram is always going to require you to open your wallet at some point, in order to make their algorithm favor your content, because that's just what they do. They don't like it when users find growth-hacks to their algorithms, and come sweeping to fix anything that finds traction in the social media world. That isn't to say that their advertising platform is no good, because that's far from the truth, but that's not the point.

On the other hand, TikTok loves it when users try to find loopholes, and growth-hacks their accounts going by the rules, also known as the algorithms. In fact, they encourage people to do more of those things. Why would they do that? The answer is quite simple: They want to become the most watched platform in the world. Be sure to check out our guide to social media marketing in Japan for best practices when using social in the land of the rising sun.

One more point that gives TikTok the edge is that their algorithm seems to learn what kind of content users like even better than Reels, when its rival is already pretty good at it himself. This helps increase rewatches, shares, comments, etc, which are the criterias that the algorithm evaluates to decide whether the content should go viral or not. Now, Reels probably does have similar criterias for evaluation, however they are still comparatively vague to this day.

Decreasing Importance of Followers on Reels and TikTok Japan

This is true, or to be more exact, followers are not important as much as before. Ask yourself, when was the last time YOU followed someone on social media?

Platforms are now shifting their focus to creating a place where the main objective isn't to have the most number of followers, but rather satisfy a metric-based objective that would benefit the creator in another way. For a business, this could be the length of time spent on websites by users that come from these platforms.

The system is getting extremely smart with figuring out what we like, to the point where users don't feel the necessity to follow anyone anymore.

Should You Start on Reels or TikTok Japan

Start on both. TikTok would likely continue to be an 'organic' friendly platform, but that doesn't mean the same for Reels. Posting even 1 Reel a week is going to take you far and beyond, rather than posting still images everyday. In fact, if you want to post a video, try it out using the Reel.

Now you may think this is too much work for a person who's just starting, but it's actually very simple. Don't forget, these two platforms are very similar in the type of content that you post, so most content you upload on one side could be re-uploaded on the other. However, there are a few cautions you need to take when doing this.

Let's take a look at an example where you may be trying to repost a video that you already made and uploaded on TikTok:

  • Use a third-party screen recording software that can delete the TikTok watermark, as that affects negatively for your performance on Instagram

  • Be sure to add the song again from the music library available on Reels, as if you repost directly, it will say 'original audio', and you don't want that.

As long as you keep in mind these two points, you'll be able to have a seamless time enjoying the best of both to achieve your objective using these platforms.

Feel free to contact AdVertize for support for your marketing needs, or even questions to this or any other one of our top digital marketing agency blogs for Japan.

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