Tech

The Difference Between TikTok, Reels, & Snapchat Spotlight, Explained

Here’s how the apps compare.

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Screenshots via Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram

TikTok is now sharing Home Screen space with two new short-form video apps: Instagram's Reels and Snapchat's Spotlight. While the apps have a lot in common content-wise — think, lip-syncing, hand-dancing, and memes — they're set apart by their utility.

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TikTok

The home of the "Renegade" dance is still the number-one most downloaded app in the U.S., according to a spokesperson, with over 100 million active users just in this country. More users means more content: You could scroll through your FYP practically forever.

TikTok

TikToks's algorithm learns your preferences by paying attention to what you watch, how long you watch it, and what you double-tap or share. The app then curates more relevant programming.

TikTok

Because there’s so much content, you can explore incredibly niche genres — like Toast TikTok, or Tiny Home TikTok, or Medical Mystery TikTok — endlessly. And while 83% of users have posted their own content on the app, there's no pressure to post or personalize your profile.

The Specs:

TikTok videos can be between one and 60 seconds long and can be made of multiple clips. The audio library has a feature called “sound sync" which intuits the best order for for the clips to play in, and trims the sound accordingly.

TikTok

TikTok also has a duet feature, which allows users to react to or interact with other videos on the app, in a side-by-side format.

TikTok/Everest

TikTok also has a billion dollar Creator's Fund, which helps users get paid for content, but in order to qualify, you must have a minimum of 10K followers and a minimum 10K views in the last 30 days.

Instagram

Reels

In August, Instagram introduced Reels as an Explore Page feature. It has since found its own home in the navigation bar. Reels videos can only be 30 seconds long, but can be comprised of multiple clips.

To view and interact with Reels, you just need a basic Instagram account. Because Reels is a feature within Instagram, and not its own app, any videos you make will be attached to your profile, accessible via the Reels tab — so your followers easily can see your “Savage” dance.

Instagram

Reels also makes the most of hashtags, a feature that Instagram users have already mastered. You can navigate relevant tags that interest you with ease, where TikTok's hashtags may be a little more random.

Instagram

The Specs

You can edit, trim, soundtrack, filter, and save Reels to your photo roll, though depending on the licensing on the audio you choose, the video might save without sound. There is also a 10-second timer for selfie videos.

Snapchat

Spotlight

On Nov. 23, Snapchat introduced its own TikTok-esque feature. Located in the Discover play tab, you'll now find user-generated entertainment from people on the app, whether you know them or not.

Snapchat

The main difference is that Spotlight is also a digital talent search. The app is giving away over $1 million a day to creators who make "entertaining" content, a qualification determined by engagement and popularity of the video.

Snapchat

Spotlight is moderated, doesn’t feature public comments, and profiles are private by default — so you don't need to have a massive following or prior viral videos to qualify to win money. You just need to be over the age of 16, and the video needs to follow content guidelines.

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The Specs:

Videos can be up to 60 seconds, can feature music from the Sounds of Snapchat library, text, graphics, and filters. Videos can also be trimmed, and shared publicly with your user name attached, or anonymously if you are private.

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TL;DR?

TikTok has the biggest collection of videos and the most customized experience. Spotlight has the least restrictive way to make $, and Reels is the most hashtag-friendly. Depending on what you want out of your short-form video experience, one app might be the best fit.

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