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[NEW STUDY] Instagram Reels Outperforming TikTok Across Short-form Video

As we begin a new year, marketers will be reviewing content strategies and looking to find areas of improvement. According to a report from Emplifi, uploading more clips to Reels could be one way to get ahead of the competition.

The customer engagement platform analysed thousands of brand-owned social media accounts using one of its tools and came away with one big conclusion: that Reels outperform all other video content, including TikTok and Facebook.

Interestingly, keeping it short and sweet is no longer the only recipe for success.

Zarnaz Arlia, CMO, Emplify

“One of the most interesting findings from our research is the shift we’ve witnessed in Instagram Reels video lengths, with longer run-times winning more engagement for brands compared to short-form video. This represents a change in user behaviour, with more time being spent on videos that run longer than the average 15-second or 30-second video ad format.”

As well as performing better than its competitors, Reels also delivers six times the reach of Instagram Stories.

With people spending longer and longer watching videos on social media platforms, investing in a coherent strategy across different platforms has become more important. 

Zarnaz Arlia, CMO, Emplify

“When you look at Instagram content specifically, brands continue to use Stories more often than Reels — mostly likely because Stories take less of a lift to create — but Reels are delivering far better results.”

Instagram outperforms TikTok in all areas

Despite longer Reels video being more popular, there is one stat from the report that should raise eyebrows through the roof. Reels outperformed TikTok in all video lengths!

Emplify’s research was taken across 1,305 Instagram and TikTok sister profiles from 01 May 2023 to 01 October 2023, so there’s a fair chunk of data behind these findings.

‘Long’ Reels earned 8,372 median views compared to 3,379 on TikTok, while ‘medium’ length Reels earned 7,830 median views and ‘short’ videos earned 6,145 views. For the purposes of this report, long = anything over 90 seconds, while medium = 30-90 seconds and short = under 30 seconds.

 

Emplify doesn’t offer much analyse apart from a presentation of the numbers, but it does add that it’s likely Instagram is giving brands a content push by prioritising Reels over other from of content. Annoyingly, it doesn’t give any indication of the size of the accounts it analysed, so it’s difficult to say if every marketer will experience the same results on Reels.

Reels outperform standard video on Facebook

Over on Facebook, Reels dominance is clear. It outperforms regular video content by some margin. Longer videos are also more successful, which mirrors Meta stablemate Instagram. Interestingly, more brands used Facebook Live during Q3 2023 – with 1.5x more Live videos posted during that quarter when compared to the previous four quarters.

Marketers embracing Live could highlight a broader trend of customers enjoying interactive, real-time and less scripted content. Whatever the reason, it’s something to think about adding to your plan for 2024.

Zarnaz Arlia, CMO, Emplify

“The underlying theme here is that there are untapped opportunities for the brands that are willing to lean further into their Instagram video strategy and make Reels part of their social media campaigns.”

Is 2024 the year of Reels?

Reels has been fighting hard to stay with TikTok for some time, and as Meta continues to push Reels content across Instagram and Facebook, it’s clear that brands using the format will continue to see higher engagement vs other forms of content.

Despite some of the flaws in the report, such as a failure to say what type of accounts were analysed or the size of them, the findings are still interesting and should provide plenty of food for thought as we head into the middle of January.

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