Instagram Reels: video clips a la TikTok

If you’re a regular Instagram user, you may have already spotted the Instagram Reels feature. But what exactly is Instagram Reels?

Similar to the Story feature first introduced by Snapchat, and later copied by Facebook and implemented in its platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, Instagram Reels is a clone of yet another app.

In the case of Instagram Reels, the main functionality is based on the much hyped video app TikTok. The Chinese app lets users create and share short videos. Simple editing tools including effects, background music, and various filters have contributed to the app’s meteoric rise to popularity. Worried about users abandoning Facebook in favor of the competition, Facebook has been trying to appeal to a younger audience by rolling out similar features. But can Instagram Reels keep up with TikTok? Find out how to use Instagram Reels and what the difference are compared to TikTok.

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How does Instagram Reels work?

If you want to create an Instagram Reel, first launch the Instagram app. Reels is located in the same place as Stories below the camera symbol at the top left. You can either press the record button to shoot a new clip or select a video from your gallery by swiping upwards. On the left hand side of the display you’ll find a selection of buttons including background music, AR effects, a timer, and playback speed settings. You can record and cut together multiple video clips for a total length of 15 seconds. The order of clips is fully adjustable. This lets users tell a consistent story using an Instagram Reel. The final clips contain information about the account name, a follow button, an Instagram Reel caption with hashtags, and information on the background music.


Because Instagram Reels has been specifically designed for smartphones, clips can only be recorded in vertical format. If you record a video by turning your phone onto its side, the clip will also be turned on its side. Instagram does not automatically adjust to horizontal formats.

Influencers have been particularly intrigued by the new Instagram feature. Being able to create and edit videos quickly and easily is a great way to engage with a community. It’s likely that Reels will be used by many Instagrammers. For one, playing with the different filters is very entertaining and secondly, social media users tend to experience FOMO – the fear of missing out on a new trend.

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How do I share my Instagram Reels?

Before you publish a clip, you should decide whether you’d like your Instagram Reels to appear within Instagram Explore only (this only works if your profile is public) or within your Instagram feed. To share an Instagram Reel, simply click on the share button once you’re happy with your edit. Via the Stories tab, you can also elect to share a Reel with friends as a Story or in a direct message. In addition, you can share Instagram Reels of public accounts on your Stories.


Instagram now provides a wild mix of different functions and formats. Videos can be shared to a user’s feed (normal profile page), in Stories (viewable for 24 hours only before they disappear), or via IGTV which is the platform’s attempt at competing with YouTube by publishing longer videos.

Where can I find Instagram Reels?

Similar to IGTV, Reels created by yourself and other users can be viewed in a special section. Previews of video clips can be viewed in Stories or your feed. Instagram Reels are also viewable via the Explore section (magnifying symbol). Instagram has made it obvious that the new function is important by taking up the space of nine photos when showcasing Reels in Explore. When searching for hashtags, Reels take up the space of two photos.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok: what are the differences?

Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels lets you record, edit, and share short video clips. But there are a few differences between the two apps’ functions:

  Instagram Reels TikTok
Shares Videos aren’t shown in full-screen mode in Stories Versatile sharing options
Formats Versatility of Instagram content: Reels, Feed, Stories, Livestream TikTok offers only multi-clip videos
Audience Core audience 24 to 30 years Core audience between 16 to 24 years
Length of videos Clips up to 15 seconds Clips up to 60 (4*15) seconds

Which platform you decide on ultimately depends on your personal preferences. TikTok has recently come under criticism for its lack of user data privacy and unauthorized sharing of data. However, Instagram is part of Facebook, which means users should also be wary of sharing too much of their personal data. Some people may prefer to use an app they already know as opposed to having to download a new one.


If you’ve already got a TikTok account but prefer to swap to Instagram, deleting your TikTok account is easy.

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