by | Feb 23, 2022 | Social

What’s the Difference between Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts?

*UPDATED NOVEMBER 2022.

Conflicted about the difference between Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts? Asking yourself “which one is better?” Then you’re reading the right blog. In this post we’ll talk you through the fundamental distinctions between the two to help you decide which platform is best for your brand.

Short videos are currently the most popular format among viewers. As no one has time to watch longer videos in today’s fast-paced world, platforms like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts have exploded in popularity.

The concept of a short video platform was introduced by Vine back in 2013 (Kuod’s to Jess for correcting us on this!) However, social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube saw how this idea was really what brands were looking for to create and publish entertainment content and quickly took up the challenge to compete against their competitors.

Tools and Functionality

  • Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts let you choose any audio from its large range of popular hits to add to your video. However, Instagram reels includes a “for you” music tab that the platform has made especially for you through its algorithm. If you create your own audio and have a public account, users can use your audio.
  • Instagram has many effects made by the platform and creators around the world for you to spice up your video. YouTube shorts only has a few standard filters to choose from.
  • Both platforms are 15 to 60 second videos. You have the choice to upload a video from your camera roll or create your video on the app.
  • On both platforms, you can resume or pause a single video as many times as you like to convey your message. You can also combine many little snippets to build your reels or shorts.

Sharing Content  

  • If you have a public account on Instagram, you can upload your reel to explore, where it has the potential to be seen by the Instagram community. You can also upload to your Feed to share it with your followers. When you post reels with certain songs, hashtags, or effects and someone clicks on one of them your reel may also appear on dedicated pages.
  • If you have a private account on Instagram, the platform follows your privacy settings and your reel will only be seen by your followers.
  • You can send your reel to your story, close friends, or in a direct message whether you have a public or private account and will be deleted after 24 hours and will not appear on your profile.
  • YouTube allows you to share your shorts publicly, privately or only to the people who have the link to your shorts.
  • YouTube allows you to schedule your shorts and gets published when you would like to share your shorts on the platform.
  • YouTube strictly asks you to tick whether if the short is kids friendly or not making it a safe platform.

Watching and Following

  • Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts show the best trending videos on the explore page. If a reel or short speaks to you, you can like, comment or share it to your friends. YouTube shorts allows you to dislike the video which can be a disadvantage to a brand.
  • On Instagram, reels are labelled as “featured”. If this happens to your reel, you will receive a notification. Instagram selects public reels especially for you that will interest and entertain you.
  • While watching the reel the user has the option to click on follow and while watching the short the user has the option to click on This leads the user to keeping up with the brands latest content creations.
Instagram Reels & YouTube Shorts

Organic Traffic and Reach

YouTube shorts work with trending hashtags to keep content on the explore page, as well as to help the creator target a certain demographic. Because it will be displayed on the channel’s shorts on a regular basis, a channel’s reach and organic traffic are more likely to gain more views. In comparison, Instagram Reels rapidly gets oversaturated with videos based on the user’s specific preferences and the type of content the user most frequently watches. Because Instagram is based on followers and their preferred content types, there may be less organic traffic.

Engagement and Interaction

 Any creator with a large following or a large network of people willing to share their Reels on their platform has a greater chance of succeeding. Users have a number of places to share the reel on the platform itself to increase engagement, which can lead to organic reach. YouTube Shorts provides very little room for the YouTuber to communicate with their fans.

Although Instagram Reels does seem like the better option compared to YouTube Shorts as it has more to offer, YouTube has a massive market share of video content already so will have better organic reach. At the end of the day, it all comes down to who your target audience is and what goal you want to achieve with your video.

But, that’s not all the options for a short video content platform. Click here to read our blog “TikTok Algorithm and How it Works” or Click here to read our blog “Pros and Cons Of A TikTok Business Profile”

Still unsure? Let us help you piece the puzzle together by choosing the right platform for your brand, set up and management. Contact us today!

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