Instagram Reels or IGTV – what is better?

Videos are all around us. It’s almost impossible to scroll through any social media without seeing any video content, whether it’s short, long, Reels, IGTV or TikTok format. Also, since the rising success and popularity of TikTok, short video format has become more popular and all-around more common on social media, especially on Instagram. Still, there’s something about a long video format. It’s appealing to the audience, people still use it, and Instagram has IGTV for that. So, what’s the real difference between Instagram Reels and IGTV, and when to use each of them? Here are some tips and tricks about those two Instagram features.  

Instagram logo

What is Instagram Reels?

First things first, let’s start with the basics. To better understand what we are talking about, we should know the definition of Reels. It is Instagram’s feature that allows users to film or upload 15 to 30-second videos. Users can then edit, sound dub or add effects to those videos before sharing them in their Instagram feed, Stories or Explore tab. This sounds simple, and the length sounds short, right? So why did Instagram launch this feature anyway? Well, according to Instagram, they wanted to give their users more opportunities for creating more content. We can also assume that it was a strategic move from their side. It’s because of TikTok and its rising popularity with its simple features and short videos.  

Instagram Reels content

So, when Instagram launched Reels in 2020, many people started treating it like a new version of TikTok. Users started recycling the same content, posting videos on Instagram that were initially made on TikTok. That created a loop of the same content on these two social media giants. It made Instagram take a step back and take more control over what can be seen on Reels Tab. Also, what can be recommended to their users. They wanted to stop the repetition of the same content. It makes sense because I, and probably you, have seen that some of these videos are low quality and blurry. It’s because users reposted them so many times on different social media platforms. Here you can find some good examples of different brands that put Reels to good use if you lack inspiration.

Instagram Reels logo

Reels can be used not only for filming videos with sound or audio overlays but for some other actions as well with these features:

  • more editing tools which include the ability to speed up or slow down videos, reality effects and transitions
  • stitchable takes which enable users to share a video with only one long take or a combination of a few quicker takes
  • audio attribution, which makes it possible for users to overlay the sound in their videos if a user uploads native audio
  • shareability on the Instagram Feed, Explore, Stories and your profile. Depending on the privacy settings on your profile, you can share Reels with only your followers on your profile or your Stories, or you can share it publicly in the Reels area of Explore
  • mobile-only, which means that, unlike Instagram profiles and Stories, you can’t view or upload Reels on a desktop version of this app

Reels’ algorithm

You have a chance to reach new audiences across the world. This can help you grow your business. This is because Reels show up in the public part of this app; also, we finally know how Reels’ algorithm works. Instagram’s goal is to surface content that users will not only enjoy watching but that they’ll likely engage with it as well. So, how do they do it? To determine which Reels to show to their users, Instagram’s algorithm considers how likely an individual is to:

  • watch a Reel the whole way through 
  • like it
  • comment that it was funny or entertaining
  • make their Reel after that

Employes in front of a board thinking

If you’re new to this feature and you want to make your first Reel, here are some tips you should keep in mind:

  • be original – there is so much recycled content that people get fed up with it. So be yourself, smile and turn on that camera!
  • aim for producing high-quality content – nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone with at least a pretty decent, if not a great camera, so it’s not that hard to film a good quality video. Also, it helps if you do not post the same content on many different platforms. That helps to keep your video quality high.
  • try to keep the subject matter light and friendly for all audiences – if you make your Reels public, many different people will see it. Keep that in mind while making your first Reel
  • last but not least, have fun! If you don’t enjoy making Reels, you miss the whole point, don’t you agree?

What is IGTV?

Now that we’ve covered the short video format feature let’s move on to IGTV and its characteristics. IGTV was here a little longer than Reels since it launched in 2018, but it has not been abandoned yet. IGTV is also Instagram’s video feature and allows users to film and share long-form videos with their audience. It’s a feature primarily meant for smartphones as the videos are vertical. Users don’t need to rotate their devices to watch the videos.

Unlike Reels, which are 15-30 seconds long, IGTV videos can be up to 15 minutes long when uploaded from a mobile device and 60 minutes long when uploaded from the web. When launching this feature, the founders of Instagram hoped that this would create more of a “surfing” environment on the app. They also hoped that it would encourage users to spend more time on Instagram. I think they did a pretty good job with that, don’t you agree?

Instagram IGTV logo

What makes IGTV great is that Instagram is pushing the use of IGTV by adding notifications for new videos and giving them priority within the app. So no matter where your posts may fall on a user’s feed, your IGTV post will be at the top with a visible notification. That is great if you want to create more awareness for your business.  If you want to learn more about how can you use IGTV for your business, learn more here. To start creating IGTV videos, you have to create a separate channel solely for IGTV. That’s where you can store your footage within your account. That way, your videos are all in one place, which makes them more accessible.  To make an IGTV channel, you need to download the IGTV app and sign in. Then, after a few simple steps, you’re all set and ready to start creating IGTV content.

Tips and tricks for using IGTV

After you’ve logged in and set up your account, it’s time to get started! Here are a few tips to keep in mind while creating IGTV content:

  • vertical videos only – it is vital to keep your videos upright because this is a mobile-only feature
  • keep it short – although IGTV makes it possible for you to upload longer videos on Instagram, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily do that. Keep in mind that the average person has a brief attention span. Try and keep your videos somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes long. That should be enough to get your message across
  • don’t just repost and reuse – unlike Instagram Stories (unless you highlight them), IGTV content will stay on your profile much longer than 24 hours. So choose your IGTV content wisely 

A girl filming a video of herself

So, what’s the real difference?

Let’s look at a few things that are good to consider while comparing these two features. 

  • re-postability – both can be re-shared on your Feed and Stories, and you can add a cover photo to fit into your Feed’s aesthetic if you choose to share that content
  • insights – both provide fundamental insights like views, likes, comments, share and saves
  • editing options – Reels has in-app features, but you can create Reels outside of the app and then upload it. IGTV has no in-app features, so that it would require an external video editing software
  • discoverability – Reels has in-app real estate to provide daily users opportunities to discover your brand. IGTV can be found in their separate IGTV app but harder to become Instagram viral

What should you choose? It depends on what you want for your brand or business. If you’re going to create more awareness and expose yourself to new followers, Reels is for you. That way, only people who already follow you can see your content. If you want to learn more about creating engaging content, you can learn more here on our blog.

Instagram like simbol

On the other hand, if you want to showcase something to your current followers, IGTV is a great feature to use. While other users can still discover your IGTV video on their IGTV app, it hasn’t been linked to increasing exposure on the account itself.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that you know what is best for your business. That way, you can decide what is best to use. If you are using it on your private Instagram account, make sure to have fun and keep it light and simple. That’s what social media are all about, right?


Ivona Kezić

Community manager at Kontra. Tattoo lover obsessed with interior design. Loves dogs, coffee and science fiction. In that order.