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Instagram reel or story: what’s the difference, and how to choose?

Published on 2 May 2024 by Laureline, updated on 2 May 2024 | Reading time : 9 min

For influencer marketing, content creators and brands, Instagram is a highly interesting social network. Thanks to the diversity of content formats offered by the platform, the creative options are endless: reel, story, publication, carousel or even poll in comments… Whatever your communication or campaign objective, there’s one, or several, appropriate formats, opening up a wide range of possibilities. 

So, among all these formats, how can you be sure to choose the right one for your objectives? While our complete guide to formats and content types on Instagram explains the differences between formats, and how to use them for a good marketing strategy, here our focus is on reel posts and stories. What are the differences between a reel and a story? When should you opt for one over the other? In which strategies are stories more relevant than reels? We sum it all up in this article!

Table of content

What is an Instagram reel?

Instagram reels are videos that are displayed in vertical format, and last between 15 and 90 seconds. These formats are created by users, directly on the platform. They can be easily modified using the various templates offered by the platform, and published on their profile in the application. Reels remain on the user’s profile permanently, making them easy to share and save.

How to create an Instagram reel?

To create an Instagram reel, all you have to do is click on your profile photo, then select “Reels” next to “Story” at the bottom of your screen. Once selected, you’ll see several creation tools on the left-hand side of your screen, which allow you to edit your video. You can also click on the little “+” symbol in the bottom middle of your screen; then simply click on “Reel”, and you’re done!

Logo reel Instagram
Exemple de l'effet audio pour Reels Instagram

The various editing tools at your disposal include, for example :

  • Audio: You can create a reel with your own audio content or simply choose a song from Instagram’s music library. If you have a public account and have created your own audio, other users will be able to use your audio to record their own reels.
  • AR effects: Instagram offers a wide variety of augmented reality (AR) effects in its gallery for recording your clips.
  • Align: This option allows you to create smoother transitions, when changing outfits for example.
  • Speed: You can speed up or slow down the video, and even the sound of your reel.
  • Timer and countdown: With the timer, you can record your reels hands-free. Once you’ve pressed the record button, the countdown timer is activated so you can get ready. 


Reels can be recorded as a series of clips (one at a time), all together or with videos from your gallery. When you create reels that include songs, hashtags or effects, your video can also appear on dedicated pages every time someone clicks on that song, hashtag or effect.

Why use Instagram reels?

Using Instagram reels can be particularly interesting for your business, for many reasons and depending on many objectives. Let’s take a look at how Instagram reels can benefit your business

Increase your brand’s visibility

The first reason is, of course, visibility! Indeed, Instagram’s algorithm tends to boost user content by highlighting the functionality of reels – compared to simple posts, in particular. On the main page of accounts that have published reels, there’s even a tab dedicated to viewing these short, dynamic pieces of content.

Capture new audiences

As well as increasing your company’s visibility, Instagram reels are ideal for attracting audiences. By surfing on trending topics to boost your reels on Instagram, users will be more interested in your creative, dynamic, trendy and above all engaging content, which speaks to them through their omnipresence on social media. 

Express (and show) your creativity

Juggle between different effects, try out new soundtracks, vary fonts or create an innovative montage… With reels, creativity has no limits! This innovative content, with its infinite possibilities, allows you to show off your company’s creativity and captivate your target audience by varying the pleasures – and the content.

Boosting engagement

The engagement that reels deliver is extremely beneficial for a company. Reels tend to generate relatively high engagement, compared to other Instagram formats: like, comment or share options allow followers to interact with content quickly and easily.

Reinforce brand authenticity

The use of reels brings out a more authentic side of the company. In fact, it’s a way of showcasing the life of the company, its offices, its employees, the shared moments, etc. This strengthens the relationship of trust and humanizes a brand or company. Authenticity can also be beneficial when communicating about a product, such as testing, for example.

Increasing company awareness

Finally, Instagram reels help boost a company’s brand awareness, especially when used wisely. Indeed, by surfing the various trends of the moment, reproducing, adapting and appropriating content that has already proved effective and engaging can increase the potential of your own reels to go viral.

What metrics need to be observed to determine the effectiveness of a reel?

There are a number of KPIs (key performance indicators) that can be used to evaluate the success of a reel on Instagram. To optimize your marketing strategy and ensure the success of your content, knowing and analyzing these KPIs is essential. 

These data are : 

  • Views: how many people have viewed your video.
  • Engagement: the number of interactions (likes, comments, shares and reactions).
  • Sharing: the number of times your reel has been shared by users.
  • Completion rate: how many people watched your video to the end.
  • Number of subscribers: how many people subscribed to your account after viewing the video.

When to use a reel?

There are several situations in which the choice of reel is more appropriate than another type of content on Instagram. 

Captivate with humor and trends

First and foremost, for entertaining content. Reels are interesting when it comes to creating viral content, following trends, making humorous content or reproducing challenges.

Present your products creatively

Reels can also be an interesting way of highlighting products or features. They can be used to creatively present the product, show the way it’s used, or clearly announce a specific feature.

Educate with concision and impact

Reels can also be used for short, punchy educational content. It’s possible to convey succinct information, provide tips and tricks, or give tutorials. 

Share authenticity behind the scenes

Finally, use reels to show your company’s “behind-the-scenes”: to share authentic, behind-the-scenes moments, show off your working environment or put your employees in the spotlight. 

Source : Instagram

What’s the difference between Instagram Reels and TikToks?

Even if Instagram reels and TikToks are, at first glance, relatively similar in terms of format, there are a few notable differences. 

Firstly, in terms of video content, a TikTok can be up to 10 minutes long, whereas an Instagram reel is limited to 90 seconds.

Then there’s the audio library offered by the different platforms: while TikTok has an infinite number of soundtracks, on Instagram, the choice is more limited. 

In-app editing possibilities are broader on TikTok, which offers a wide range of possibilities when it comes to video editing. Nevertheless, Instagram offers “ready-to-use” templates that allow you to make great videos very quickly.

The algorithm is also easier to understand on TikTok than on Instagram. On the Chinese platform, most of the time, it’s enough to use sounds or viral trends to appear on users’ “for you” page – whereas the way Instagram’s algorithm works is still unknown and, therefore, not so simple to dissect.

Finally, in terms of engagement, the two platforms are equal. Users say they enjoy TikTok as much as Instagram reels. 

If you have to choose between TikTok and Instagram, it’s important to see where your community is most present. In fact, it may make sense to post your video content in the form of reels on Instagram rather than on TikTok if your community is already built up and established on this platform, which will then enable you to vary your content on Instagram. Note, however, that it’s always a good idea to work on all social media to take advantage of the opportunities offered by each.

What is an Instagram Story?

Instagram stories can take the form of photos or videos. The user publishes it on his or her account, and it lasts only 24 hours. They are not located in the same place as the rest of the publications; to view them, simply click on the profile photo of the user in question. In this way, they don’t blend in with the rest of the publications. They can be personalized with text, stickers, emojis, music or filters.

Why use Instagram stories?

Instagram stories are generally used to share instant content. Unlike reels, which are often more elaborate, this is usually more natural content, more spontaneous, and less elaborate. 

Source : Instagram

Capturing the audience’s attention

One of the primary reasons to use stories: instantaneity. Their secret lies in their ability to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity – because, indeed, companies have 24 hours to engage their audience, setting up a dynamic where content must be consumed without delay, or else it will disappear. This temporal limitation stimulates interest and encourages viewers to stay tuned so as not to miss anything.

Interacting in real time

Secondly, the various features available specifically for stories, such as polls or questions, enable immediate engagement with communities, where the latter can react immediately to content posted by companies. 

Getting closer to your audience

Next, stories bring authenticity and closeness to a company’s account. As the content posted in stories is less formal and more spontaneous, they are a creative and unique way for a company to show itself in a more human way, and thus create a stronger bond with its subscribers

Innovate the way you communicate

Last but not least, these features provide a fertile ground for innovation and creativity, enabling brands to present creative, entertaining and interactive content that stands out from the crowd and thus arouses public interest. 

What are the metrics you need to know about a story's efficiency?

For both stories and reels, it’s important to take KPIs into account, in order to measure their efficiency. There are several metrics to observe, slightly different from those that are important to consider for reels: 


  • Number of views: how many people have seen your story.
  • Number of reactions: how many people liked it, responded to questions, polls, swiped up for more information and more.
  • Exit rate: how many people left the story before it ended.
  • Sharing: the number of times your story has been shared by users.
  • Number of subscribers: how many people subscribed to your account after viewing the video.
  • Interactions with external links: the number of clicks or interactions with the link shared in the story.

When should you use a story?

Stories are an excellent means of communication when you need to communicate ephemeral content. For example, when you need to highlight temporary updates, promotions or limited-time offers.

When it comes to sharing live events, stories are also a great way to communicate instantly, with little need for attention paid to editing.

Stories can also be used to engage subscribers. Stories can allow companies to answer their frequently asked questions, ask new questions via the FAQ feature, or ask for their feedback via polls. 

If you need to provide in-depth explanations of a feature, content, product or whatever, stories can also prove to be a very good alternative, as they allow you to express yourself in person, for as long as you like. Also, it helps to avoid invading your subscribers’ news feeds. 

Lastly, stories can be used on a regular basis to maintain ongoing contact with your audience without monopolizing the main news feed, while continuing to share and maintain closer ties with your subscribers.

How to share a reel in story?

Step 1: Find the content you want to republish 

Browse your Instagram feed or the profile of the user whose content you want to republish. When you find it, press the Share button below the post.

Step 2: Select “Add to your story”. 

Among the options that appear, you should see the “Add to your story” option. Press it to republish the content in your own story.

Step 3: Personalize if necessary 

You can add stickers, text or drawings to the post before sharing it in your story if you wish.

Step 4: Publish in your story

Once you’ve customized the post to your liking, press “Your story” to publish it. It will then be visible to your subscribers for 24 hours.

Source: Hootsuite

Differences between reel and story: what you need to know

  • Reels and stories are two Instagram features to be used in a complementary way. They are both interesting on different levels: while reels are interesting for creating more professional, prepared content, stories allow you to humanize your brand and offer more spontaneous, instant content. 


  • It is important to master the formats, to understand their differences, strengths and weaknesses, so that you can use them appropriately and powerfully, according to your objectives. And don’t hesitate to experiment! Every brand and every community is different. Do what works best for you and your audience.


  • Don’t forget that Instagram reels and TikToks can be used simultaneously. The algorithms and offers of the two platforms are different and can therefore complement each other, enabling you to reach a wider and more varied audience.
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