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TikTok Dominates Short-Form Content, Instagram Reels Not Far Behind

A study finds TikTok outperforms Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts in user engagement and content frequency, while Reels leads in watch time.

  • TikTok achieves the highest user engagement compared to Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Instagram Reels garner the most watch time among the three platforms.
  • Brands post twice as frequently on TikTok as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
TikTok Dominates Short-Form Content, Instagram Reels Not Far Behind

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

A recent study conducted by Social Insider dives into the performance stats of these platforms, analyzing key metrics to determine which comes out on top.

In this article, we’ll examine these key insights:

  • TikTok holds the crown for the most engagement.
  • Comments pour in twice as much on TikTok as on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Brands post twice as much content on TikTok as on Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
  • Instagram Reels leads the highest watch rate, while YouTube Shorts lags.
  • Each platform’s algorithm plays a role in how content performs.
  • Each platform caters to specific audiences and marketing objectives.

Keep reading as we unpack these findings and explore what they mean for users and marketers alike.

TikTok Reigns Supreme In Engagement

TikTok, widely recognized as the forerunner of the short-form video trend, claims the engagement rate crown.

The study finds TikTok outperforms Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts in interaction, scoring double the comments of its competitors.

“From an engagement rate perspective, in this TikTok vs. Reels vs. Shorts performance comparison, TikTok sets itself apart as the undisputable winner,” the study notes.

The study compares engagement rates, revealing that YouTube Shorts averages around 3.80%, Reels hits an average of 4.36%, and TikTok boasts a significantly higher rate of 5.53%.

The Power Of TikTok’s Virality

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

The study mentions that a social media strategy focusing on authenticity and humanized approaches can lead to rapid success.

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

Reels & Shorts: Not To Be Overlooked

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

Reels, for instance, records the highest watch rate among the three platforms.

This could be credited to Instagram’s follower-based model, with Reels serving as a potent content type for brands with a large audience.

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

Most Shorts’ views originate from the homepage. From there, YouTube starts recommending long-form content.

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

A Multifaceted Approach for Marketers

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

“Using TikTok, Reels, and Shorts complementarily and creating unique content for each, aligned with the individual’s platform audience and design, is the best approach marketers and brands alike could have,” the study concludes.

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

Each platform has a unique role in the short-form video landscape. The key for brands and marketers is understanding these roles and crafting strategies around them.


Featured image generated by the author using Midjourney. 

Category News TikTok
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SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

TikTok Dominates Short-Form Content, Instagram Reels Not Far Behind

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