TikTok dominates short content, Instagram reels are not far behind

Three platforms dominate short video content: TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.

A recent study by Social Insider examines the performance statistics of these platforms and analyzes key metrics to determine which platform comes out on top.

In this article, we examine these key insights:

  • TikTok holds the crown for most engagement.
  • TikTok receives twice as many comments as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Brands post twice as much content on TikTok as they do on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Instagram Reels leads the highest watch rate while YouTube Shorts lags behind.
  • Each platform’s algorithm plays a role in content performance.
  • Each platform caters to specific audiences and marketing goals.

Read on as we decode these insights and examine what they mean for users and marketers alike.

TikTok ranks first when it comes to engagement

TikTok, widely recognized as the forerunner of the short video trend, takes the lead in engagement rate.

The study finds that TikTok outperforms Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts in engagement, garnering twice as many comments as its competitors.

“From an engagement rate perspective, TikTok stands out as the undisputed winner in this TikTok vs. Reels vs. Shorts performance comparison,” the study reads.

The study compares engagement rates and shows that YouTube Shorts averages around 3.80%, Reels averages 4.36%, and TikTok has a significantly higher rate of 5.53%.

The power of virality from TikTok

TikTok’s success is partly due to its users’ ability to capitalize on viral trends, enabling explosive follower growth.

The study mentions that a social media strategy that relies on authenticity and humanized approaches can lead to quick wins.

Brands post twice as much content on TikTok as they do on Reels and Shorts, further underscoring TikTok’s dominance in this space.

Rollers and shorts: not to be missed

While TikTok can lead in terms of engagement and content volume, Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts have their strengths.

For example, Reels has the highest play rate among the three platforms.

This could be due to Instagram’s follower-based model, where reels serve as an impactful content type for brands with large audiences.

On the other hand, YouTube Shorts functions more as a discovery tool.

Most views of shorts come from the home page. From there, YouTube starts recommending long-form content.

This recommendation system can increase a channel’s subscribers, views, and traction on long videos.

A diverse approach for marketers

Given the different strengths and audiences of each platform, the study suggests a diversified approach for brands.

“Using TikTok, Reels and Shorts in a complementary way, each creating unique content tailored to each platform’s audience and design is the best approach marketers and brands alike can have,” the study concludes.

Ultimately, TikTok leads in terms of engagement and content volume, Instagram’s Reels has the highest watch rate, and YouTube’s Shorts is the most effective discovery tool.

Each platform plays a unique role in the short video landscape. The key for brands and marketers is to understand these roles and strategize around them.

Featured image created by the author using Midjourney.