The Comparison Between TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts

It’s undeniable that the war on vertical content is now between these three giants; TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. These three platforms have been making headlines in content creation.

While these apps are enjoying their peak popularity, short-form videos have been around for quite some time. There was Vine that showed how you could be creative with six-second looping videos. But it died years later. There was also, where you could record a video lip-synching to a sound of your choice. These apps were ahead of their time. But that’s what caused their downfall, which today’s short-form video platforms are benefiting from.

Thank for the rise of TikTok when the two companies merged, ultimately absorbing TikTok then became what it is today. But of course, there’s no business if there’s no competition. When Instagram started rolling out its Reels feature, everyone said that it could be a TikTok alternative. Then there’s YouTube Shorts that allows you to record short videos as the name suggests.

But how do you compare the three from each other? Let’s take a look at some key factors to consider.

Number of Users

It’s easy to determine the number of users. However, take note that Instagram and YouTube didn’t start as platforms specifically for making short-form videos. With that in mind, let’s begin with TikTok. The platform was created back in September 2016. Five years later, the app has surpassed one billion monthly active users. Meanwhile, Instagram is boasting similar numbers of one billion monthly active users. But only 80 plus countries have Instagram Reels. Lastly, YouTube is still the undefeated king of social media. With a whopping two billion monthly active users, it’s the second most used social media platform in the world. They’re also claiming that YouTube Shorts is available globally.

Video Length

TikTok offers up to three-minute video creations, whether they’re uploaded or created directly in the app. Meanwhile, Instagram Reels can offer up to one minute only for both uploaded or recorded clips. Lastly, YouTube Shorts lets you upload video segments that can total up to a minute. But if you’re going to record a video from the app itself, you can only have 15 seconds. So clearly, TikTok wins this round.

youtube playing on laptop


Filters and effects are different from each other. Filters change the look of your entire video. They’re the same as the presets and color grading you can find in photo editing apps. Meanwhile, effects are simply special effects that you can add to a video. Like the ones that make you look like you’re wearing makeup. Or that “Yellow Effect” that only shows the yellow color. This started a trend that gets people testing how yellow their teeth are, which forces them to smile for the camera or get dental implants to do the challenge. TikTok and Instagram Reels have a lot of these filters and effects that can start a whole trend. Meanwhile, YouTube Shorts has filters, too, but has only one effect so far, which is the “Green Screen.”


With this one, TikTok differs from the other two. The platform doesn’t have full-length songs. So basically, music labels only put official snippets on the app for people to use for their content. Unlike TikTok, this is where Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are more favorable. Both apps offer full songs. You can choose any part from the song that you want to use in your video. You can even use the intro of a song, which gives you more creative freedom when it comes to using music for your content.


TikTok and Instagram Reels have shopping features that merchants can take advantage of. If you’re a merchant that sells products, you can sign up for a business account on TikTok. Your account would have a TikTok Shopping tab where followers can browse your products. Meanwhile, Instagram Reels offer the same feature they’re already implementing on the platform. That’s even before Instagram Reels started rolling out. Merchants on Instagram Reels can create a video and add tags to the featured products. Users can click on those tags, which will take them to the products page. They can then learn about the product within the app. Both Instagram Reels and TikTok can manage direct checkouts if you’re buying the product from the apps. Meanwhile, YouTube Shorts doesn’t have this feature. But with the extensive global reach YouTube has, online marketers still use YouTube Shorts to promote products.

Each of these apps has pros and cons. It’ll just be up to you on how you want to express your creativity. Just keep in mind that you should use these platforms responsibly.

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