Editing in TikTok vs Instagram Reels – Which is Worth Your Time?


From music to AR effects, we break down the editing abilities of each app. Take a look at their respective strengths.

Let’s say you’re running the social account for your own small business or personal brand. A lot of the social cutting you’ll need to be doing will, whether you want to or not, be on your phone and will be uploaded to one of the two most popular social media platforms right now, Instagram or TikTok.

First lets talk about how to edit in these apps, then we’ll discuss which one is more efficient overall.


Editing in Instagram Reels

The main takeaway for both apps is the ability to add “effects” and assets to the actual videos, like music, titles, and stickers, as well as the ability to alter the speed of the video. For Reels, here’s each major tool/effect you can apply to your video.

  • Audio – Choose any song you’d like to play on top of your video from the Instagram music library. Once you’ve chosen your favorite song you can select a specific section of the song to feature. Find it from scrolling through the lyrics. This is key to the reaction and music meme videos made popular on TikTok.
  • Speed – You’ll be able to speed up or slow down your footage.
  • Effects – Like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories, the effects available are image overlays and AR-esque effects that manipulate the people and environments next to you.
  • Timer – This feature is perfect for solo recorders who need to film themselves dancing, performing, or simply talking in front of the camera. You’re able to select how long you want to record, so hit the record button and get in position (you’ve got three seconds).

So where do these videos go? Well, you can post them to your Instagram feed, as well as to the Reels feed that acts as an aggregate of similar/recommended videos, as well as from accounts you follow.


Editing in TikTok

You can start and stop recording as you go, and the app automatically adds clips to your timeline as you shoot them.

You can hit the red Record button at the bottom of your screen once and let it roll, or hold and release to record a specific length of time. Once you’ve “recorded” all your clips, you can still go in and edit them further. Here’s Rachel Pederson going over all the basic functions of TikTok and explaining what to do once you’ve recorded a video. If you want to know more, I actually wrote an in-depth piece over on PremiumBeat detailing exactly how to create and edit a video on TikTok.

These apps are truly very similar in workflow and capabilities. The general idea is to create a video (shooting and editing simultaneously) on the fly, uploading right to your social account, whether it be personal or business.


Which is Better?

TikTok is, well, TikTok. I’m not going to be like “well, you see, it’s complicated,” because it’s TikTok. I say this not because of technical capabilities, but rather because if you’re going to go through the trouble of recording, editing, and posting a video to one of these platforms, you most likely have a much bigger chance of the video getting more exposure on TikTok, regardless of the size of your following.

One reason I lean more towards TikTok is because of how your video ends up being seen. The company recently detailed how their “#ForYou” algorithm works and what you can expect with posting your video.

So a lot of this comes down to optimization. You have to title, hashtag, as well as add sounds to help the video fall into the right categories and feeds that resemble the same keywords. Because of this, I’d recommend using TikTok over Instagram Reels if you’re looking to start uploading regular content in any shape or form.

In addition to the algorithmic help, TikTok allows you to create one-minute long videos, whereas Instagram Reels only allows you to create fifteen-second videos. So, even though Instagram has native video hosting and IGTV, you can’t edit these videos in-app like you can with Reels, so you will be limited to that fifteen seconds.

Both options are more likely to be seen by a wider audience compared to platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Those are meant for long-form, more expensive videos that are still worth making. But, if you need a quick, inexpensive way of creating short-form ads and social content, TikTok and Reels will help you out exponentially more. Really, the only decision you need to make is what you want to make a video of!


Learn even more about creating effective social video:

Cover image via laanwat.



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