Reels vs Shorts (2024) – Engagement Rate, Users & Growth

I have been trying personal branding for a while now, and you bet it took me months and months of research. It is important to understand which social media platform is better for your brand awareness – Reels vs. Shorts! 

I have simultaneously used both marketing tools and compared them based on their key features, differences, engagement rate, and how easily I gained followers—further understanding each platform’s discovery rate and reach.

Most importantly, I have tested monetizing benefits and options of both Reels and Shorts. So, it will overall help you gauge which marketing platform is doing wonders for your brand name.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into its details:-

Reels vs Shorts: A Comprehensive Comparison

Before diving into a detailed comparison of Reels and Shorts and further deciphering the better marketing tool, let’s skim through its basic differences.

FeaturesReelsShorts
Engagement Rate4.36%3.08%
Monetisation OptionNo direct monetizationDirect monetization through ad-sense
Ad-spend43%36%
Monthly Average UsersOver 2 BillionOver 1.5 Billion
Length of the Video90 Seconds (15 Minutes in special cases)60 Seconds
Sound LibraryLimitedComprehensive (Plus, there is monetization on used music)
Video PrivacyPublic and PrivatePublic, Private, and Unlist
Reaction ButtonsLike and CommentLike, Dislike, and Comment
Effects and FiltersAvailableAvailable
In-app Scheduling25 posts/ day and 75 days in advanceUnlimited
In-app VoiceoversYou cannot download the outcome or insert the voice between editing.Super convenient

Discovery And Reach Of Reels Vs Shorts 

Instagram is more of a followers-based platform. So, the Reels of people you follow will be shown on your timeline on priority. However, if you interact with the creator (without following them) or the sound they are using, the platform’s algorithm will still appear in their Reels.

On the other hand, YouTube is purely a discovery tool. 

Most of YouTube Shorts are from the home page. So, when viewers watch your Shorts and find them interesting, it will bring them to your long videos. This will positively affect your subscribers and get more traction and views on your Shorts/ Channel overall. 

Reels vs Shorts
Source: Miscord

According to Socialinsider, the engagement rate of Instagram Reels is higher (4.36%) than YouTube Shorts (3.08%). At the same time, the comment rate of both marketing platforms is the same – 0.005%.

VERDICT: Based on discovery, YouTube Shorts are the best way to reach an audience without interacting with your content. If you want to tap into a larger audience, Shorts is your best choice. 

On the other hand, promoting your product/ brand on Instagram Reels is ideal if you want to cultivate the same market. All you need to do is use popular hashtags/ sounds hyped up in your niche.

Key Features Comparison 

YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels have incredible features that you can leverage. So, let’s compare both platforms below and see which one is better. (My personal opinion!)

1. Length Of Video

When Instagram Reels was first introduced, the platform allowed only a 15-second limit. Slowly, it rose to 60 seconds, then 90, and now, you can upload 15-minute videos – in certain scenarios only.

(Source: Napoleoncat)

On the other hand, YouTube Shorts allows a video limit of up to 90 seconds. This can be a combination of several 15-second videos or one big 1.5-minute video. 

VERDICT: Instagram wins with its flexibility of uploading 15-minute videos.

2. Video Effects And Filters

Both Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts can be filmed in vertical as well as horizontal modes. You can also add different filters, texts, and music to them. How to activate filters on Reels?

Once you click on the create button (+), select Reels and slide down. 

Video Effects And Filters

On the left side of your screen, you will see three stars, that is, your effects. Meanwhile, at the bottom, you will see filters you can scroll on the left. Instagram has an abundance of filters and Effects that you can use, such as Vintage, Paris, Oslo, and so on.

VERDICT: Both platforms are equally good – However, I prefer Instagram.

3. Sound Library 

Compared to the Instagram Reels, the music library for YouTube Shorts is much wider. This generally happens due to copyright infringement. In fact, YouTube Short has a comprehensive library that allows you to use mainstream songs. 

Meanwhile, Instagram Reels’ music library is very limited. Now, considering the monetization policy on YouTube, with the help of Shorts, you can provide funds for the music you are using.

VERDICT: YouTube Shorts is a clear winner here.

4. In-App Voice-Over Recording 

YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels offer the feature of recording voices over audio. However, the latter does not let you download the outcome in your music library, which makes YouTube Shorts better than Instagram Reels.

Besides, YouTube also lets you add captions to your shorts

VERDICT: I prefer YouTube shorts, as Instagram does not let me add my voice while editing the Reel. In contrast, the process is much easier on YouTube Shorts.

5. In-App Scheduling 

As a creator, keeping track of your content schedule is important. Now, the question is, which platform helps with the organization process much better? The answer is both. 

YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels both help in keeping your publishing process simple. In addition, YouTube scheduling has no official limit, whereas Instagram has. 

Reels feature lets you schedule up to 25 posts/day and 75 days in advance.

VERDICT: YouTube Shorts’ no-limit scheduling process is better.

6. Video Privacy

YouTube creators have three privacy options. They can either keep their shorts private, public them, or unlist them (only selected users with the link can view the shorts). 

On the other hand, the privacy mode for Instagram Reels works through accounts. For example, if you have a private account, then your Reels will only be visible to your followers. If you have a public account, then anybody can view your Reel. 

VERDICT: Both platforms are good at their place. 

7. Creative Tools 

Instagram Reels offers a remix feature that lets creators duet with each other. For example, if you are lip-syncing to a dialogue with two characters, you can play a part and upload it. Then, another creator can choose your video and lip-sync with the other character. 

This is called Dueting – this Instagram Reels feature has an advantage over YouTube Shorts, according to most people. On the other hand, YouTube Shorts offers a stitching feature, which allows creators to stitch multiple clips of their own videos. 

However, if you can stitch multiple clips of different creators’ videos, then the platform has not yet rolled out that feature. 

VERDICT: Both creative tools are better on their own. So, both wins. 

8. Reaction Buttons

YouTube Shorts lets you express your views towards content through the likes (thumbs up) and dislikes (thumbs down) buttons. You can even comment on your exact sentiment. Likewise, Instagram Reels also offers reaction buttons, which are like buttons (heart-shaped), and a comment section. 

Unfortunately, Instagram Reels does not offer a dislike button. Considering how ruthless some comments can get, creators can limit their comments or turn them off completely.

VERDICT: I like the dislike button on YouTube Shorts. So, when I don’t like some content or creator, I can simply dislike their video, and YouTube’s algorithm will not recommend it to me again. However, with Instagram Reels, I need to block the user completely.

9. Messaging Options

Despite being the longest-running platform, YouTube offers no direct messaging system. You can only talk to people or creators through the comment box. 

In contrast, Instagram Reels offers direct messaging. If you like a reel, you can share it with your mutuals or even search for a person if you are not following them and then send it to them.

VERDICT: I prefer the direct messaging option that Instagram offers. It helps make communication easier, rather than dropping your IDs in the YouTube comment box. Therefore, Instagram Reels wins here. 

Monetization Options 

Monetization Options 
Source: Freepik

Instagram Reels has yet to have a direct monetization strategy. For example, unlike YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels does not monetize you with in-between ads. In fact, the creators/ brands pay the platform to run their ads and not vice versa. 

On the other hand, the ads on YouTube Shorts are monetized. Remember that 55% of the total revenue generated will belong to the creator, whereas the remaining 45% will go to Google. 

In addition, if your Short has some kind of music running in the background, the music partner will also receive their share of the commission. 

Puzzled? Check out my article on how much does YouTube pay. It gives you a detailed breakdown of monetization, factors influencing the revenue, payment system, and more. 

Which Platform Has A Higher Engagement Rate?

YouTube Shorts have 3.08% engagement rates, whereas Reels have 4.36%.

Check out the exact views, demographics, and ad spend of each platform:-

FeaturesInstagram ReelsYouTube Shorts
Users’ average daily engagement30 Minutes36 Minutes
Demographic48% Females 52% Males46% Females54% Males
Ad-Spend43%36% 
Monthly Active UsersOver 2 BillionOver 1.5 Billion

Reels vs Shorts: Which Is Better For Marketing?

YouTube Shorts is best for any brand whose main motive is discovery. 

Unlike Instagram, users do not need to interact with the brand or the trending sounds for them to land on your page. Instead, your Shorts randomly appear on their homepage, so make sure your content is SEO-friendly!

Meanwhile, if your focus is not on reaching an audience but on engagement rate and conversion, then Instagram Reels is better than YouTube Shorts by 1.28%. 

In fact, the difference between the average monthly users of both marketing tools is 0.5 Billion. (Instagram is ahead!) Overall, I can say I prefer Instagram Reels due to its 30-second extra upload limit and convenience of receiving/ shooting a direct message. 

Moreover, the filters available on Instagram are better than those on YouTube Shorts. 

On the flip side, YouTube Shorts is better at providing unlimited sound libraries, in-app scheduling, and offering direct monetization. 

Case Studies Of Successful Brand Campaigns With Shorts 

Check out the top case study reflecting why and how YouTube Shorts has better marketing campaigns. (And sales!) In the below section, I have discussed Blackpink’s strategies to enhance their brand, as well as the positive outcomes and reasons behind them:-

Global Entertainers Blackpink released their comeback single in August 2022. 

All I saw on my timeline for the first few weeks were their dance challenges. 

Blackpink Released Their Comeback Single
Source: Pinterest 

Their record labels, fans, and even first-time listeners would upload the “This that Pink Venom” hook step– and considering how catchy the chorus is, even if you are not a fan of the four-membered girl group, you will be intrigued by the single. 

Positive Outcome:

Within a month of the single release, the Pink Venom dance challenge had surpassed over 53K hashtags, and the song was used in more than 473K shorts. Currently, Pink Venom has 804 Million views. 

However, within 24 hours of release, the Born Pink lead single had 90.4 Million views on YouTube, making it the third most-viewed YouTube video within 24 hours.

Strategy:

Blackpink’s whole strategy is to build buzz till the single finally drops. You know the famous saying, “You can love me, you can hate me, but you cannot ignore me.” YG Entertainment has done that with Blackpink’s promotion on all social media platforms. 

You will stumble across their music so much that you will start humming it after a point. (Even if you are not a fan or support a rival group.) Getting the tune out of your brain takes a lot of work.

Case Studies Of Successful Brand Campaigns With Reels

Check out Calvin Klien and Jeon Jungkook’s brand collaboration! In the example below, I have mentioned why and how Instagram Reels have better marketing sales by focusing on the positive outcome of their campaign as well as some strategies behind their success:-

In March 2023, Calvin Klien released their Spring Campaign teaser revealing BTS Jeon Jungkook as their global face. It broke the internet as hashtags like “JKxCK,” and “LORD HAVE MERCY” started trending. 

In fact, not long after this announcement, the apparel Jungkook was sold out in multiple countries. Five months later, Calvin Klien launched their Fall Campaign. 

Calvin Klien Released Their Spring Campaign Tease
Source: Pinterest

In the 30-second Reel, Jungkook wore a matching denim set with no shirt underneath and a black tie. The designer’s choice of gender-neutral clothes really paid off. 

Positive Outcome:

Calvin Klien’s stocks went up 20% in just four days. Source: geo.TV.

These two campaigns solely saved the fashion brand from bankruptcy, as it generated about $1.25 Billion. Why else does the marketing team treasure the celebrity so much? They have a separate highlight on Instagram dedicated to him. 

Strategy:

The marketing team created hype by first dropping a teaser ad featuring Jungkook. 

After that, they released pictures and a reel with Jungkook answering some questions. This created excitement amongst fans and, thus, maintained engagement with the page as well as the sales.

Related Reads: 

Wrapping Up: Reels Get More Engagement 

Deciding on a better marketing tool for your service depends on your goal. 

If a larger and newer audience is discovering your brand is your priority, then YouTube Shorts is best! However, regarding the engagement rate, Instagram Reels performs better (4.36%) than YouTube Shorts’ 3.08%. 

The features of both platforms work fine. Both take the lead somehow, so your specific need will define the maximum from either platform. 

FAQs

What is the downside of reels?

Since the duration of reels is fairly short, if your content is not catchy, users will scroll through it within the first few seconds. This will signal to the algorithm that your content is not “worth it,” which results in your reels not showing up on users’ feeds.

Which is better, YouTube Shorts or Facebook Reels?

In terms of monetization purposes, YouTube Shorts is better, as Facebook does not offer you any revenue. Besides, if you are under 25, you would likely prefer YouTube Shorts way more than Facebook Reels.

Is it better to do reels or posts?

If you want to reach a wider audience, creating an engaging and creative reel is the way to go! However, Instagram posts are your friend if you just post images and cover detailed information.

How much do YouTube Shorts pay per 1000 views?

According to Hootsuite, creators earn between $0.05 and $0.7 per 1000 views on their shorts.

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