Future First Insight  April 21 2022

TikTok, Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts?

Kaylee Lasseter


Selecting the TikTok app on mobile


These three social media giants house the majority of short-form social video content online, but which is best for you and your content?  At Green Rock, we specialise in audience-first thinking and use platform data to help inform your content strategy.  Our platform team have taken a deep dive to bring you the latest insights you should be considering when creating content on Tik Tok, Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts which is the best for you?


From our research we found that roughly 60% of all TikTok users are female, making this a great platform for female-focused content creators and brands. TikTok also has quite a young user base with people aged 10-19 making up nearly a third of the entire user base.

Instagram has a slightly older user base with the majority of users being aged 25 – 34, closely followed by those aged 18 – 24.

From testing, we found that Youtube’s average audience age is similar to Instagram with roughly 75% of its user base being aged 18 – 35. It is important to note, however, that Youtube Shorts will likely have an audience with more intent to buy than its competitors due to the platform having a strong focus on informational and educational content, especially in regard to products.

Video length

TikTok used to only offer video’s of up to 60 seconds long; they then increased this to 3-minute-long content and now offer videos of up to 10 minutes long.

Youtube Shorts only allows clips up to 1 minute long when uploading, however, recording in-app restricts you to 15 seconds.

Instagram Reels initially started with just 15-second clips, increasing this to 30 seconds and now 60 seconds for uploads and records.

Editing tools

TikTok has plenty of AR features and green-screen options you can use within your videos and could be a deciding factor when choosing TikTok Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts.

Instagram offers a wide range of filters that can be applied to clips.

Instagram allows creators to press and stop recording multiple times within a single video as they tell the story. They can also individually edit smaller clips that make up the full video.

TikTok and Instagram Reels both offer a range of special effects you can include in your videos, along side stickers, polls, mentions, tags and hashtags.

We found Youtube Shorts very much lacking in this category offering very little of the above. However, it is essential to note that Youtube allows users to select a specific part of a song to use in a video, whereas the other platforms do not. Youtube Shorts also will enable creators to automatically add captions to their content, saving creators a lot of time whilst also increasing watch time by not excluding those watching without sound.

Shopping Links

TikTok has a Product Links feature that allows you to highlight items in your video. Viewers can see the things, hit the tab and then make the purchase. TikTok also has TikTok Shopping which allows you to display a link that redirects viewers to one or multiple items without them even leaving the app. This is especially useful for outfit videos or make-up tutorials.

Instagram Reels Shopping allows creators to include links for products in their Reels, again, allowing viewers to explore without leaving the app. Viewers can tap on the View Products button to buy, save or learn more about the featured product. There’s even an option to make purchases without leaving the app at all. Certain brands have Instagram Checkout enabled, meaning customers can go through the entire purchase process without even leaving the app.

From our research we found that Youtube Shorts does not currently support shopping links, however, there are plans to introduce this soon. Shopping features are now being tested, with plans to roll this out in 2022.

TikTok Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. So which is best for you?

At Green Rock, we found that if you’re a youth-focused brand looking for flexibility on the length and great selling options, TikTok is going to be the best for you if you only have the time for one platform.

Instagram Reels are another excellent platform for brands looking to sell products, however, with a slightly older user base and a general skew towards high quality, polished content we’d recommend this more for luxury and high-end brands. From testing we found that it’s also a good idea to use Reels if you already have a presence on Instagram, you’ll be able to publish Reels that your audience will see immediately, rather than having to build a new account from scratch.

If you are a content-based channel looking for quick growth then Youtube Shorts is definitely the platform for you. With Youtube Shorts still being relatively new, Youtube is still pushing the feature so you should expect to see some decent growth here if you commit to a regular schedule.

If you’re still unsure about which approach is best for your business or need some help with defining your strategy and creative ideation for your project, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our experienced team is ready to share our expert knowledge with you and help your social media video content succeed.

Kaylee Lasseter


Kaylee Lasseter is our Social Creative Lead at Green Rock, specialising in social media strategy and creative content for everything from TikTok to Twitch.

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