In 2013, with the launch of Vine — a video hosting service for short-form video — the social media industry changed forever. Users now had a platform for their 6-second long videos and could easily cross-post their content on other platforms. Vine’s popularity soared. Within two years, there were over 200 million users, and everyone wanted their content to be the latest trending video.

Vine’s success was short-lived, however. In 2016, the platform shut down. There were a few reasons — lack of monetization options for creators being a big one. However, Vine’s format proved its popularity and spawned new short-form successors.

As social media platforms compete heavily to hold audiences’ attention, short-form video uploads have surged. Not only are they easy to watch, they often get several views per viewer. Many of today’s creators are making short-form videos and posting them to as many platforms as they can. That might sound like a good way to get mass exposure. However, efficiency matters if you want to run a successful online brand. We suggest that you compare the big contenders to decide which platforms are right for your content and goals. Consider the features available, ease of navigation, traffic, monetization avenues and whether it makes sense for your content. Then, once you know where to put your energy, you can optimize your time and creativity to make the best impact.

Creator perspective: TikTok vs. Stories vs. Reels

One of the biggest considerations should be whether or not the platform will work for your vision. TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat all allow external and native content. For example, you can capture a video on your phone camera or create and edit a polished video with professional gear and upload these videos. With the native options, you’ll open the app and record your content directly. Here, it’s easy to add filters or text and use other editing tools provided.

Let’s look at each platform to see what they have to offer creators.

There are a few things to note for creative concepts. First, Snapchat has the coolest augmented reality(AR) features, so you don’t have to be an expert to make interesting videos.

Alternatively, Instagram Reels allow for longer videos and encourage evergreen content. However, Instagram keeps a much tighter rein on music use, so take caution.

TikTok, on the other hand, has always catered to the concept of trending, much like the original Vines. So, a lot of the content that does well is the kind that follows the current trends. There are a few features on TikTok that let you play off others’ videos, respond to them or remix them with your own ideas. Additionally, TikTok has a robust library of music you can use on your videos.

Business perspective

Some of the biggest differences are in the traffic, algorithms and analytics on each service.

Getting your videos seen

Initially, any chats or images on Snapchat would disappear immediately after viewing them. As it evolved, Snapchat added the Stories feature. This allows your followers on Snapchat to watch a string of your content like a small story. Each clip falls off after 24 hours, so the story constantly changes. You’ll find that Snapchat Stories largely depend on manual audience building. Generally, your Snapchat followers are the primary people who see your Stories. However, you can submit your video into the Spotlight to get promoted. In general, Snapchat’s analytics are pretty basic, but you can see how many views your story has and exactly who viewed it.

Instagram Reels is under the Meta umbrella, which means you can easily publish your content to both Instagram and Facebook. The marketing options are robust as well, allowing for targeted audiences, which can generate quick growth. Also, users can add photos, short-form videos, longer videos, image carousels and more. This opens many opportunities for overall engagement.

In contrast, TikTok is more content-driven than Snapchat and Instagram. On TikTok, videos can go viral even if you don’t have a huge fanbase. This is thanks to community trends, which are the driving factor. If you can hashtag your videos well, you’re more likely to get noticed. A good example of this is the ice bucket challenge (91.8 million views on TikTok), which used hashtagging to drive viral videos of people dunking ice-cold water over their heads.

Cashing in

Although all of these platforms are not directly paying for views in the way that YouTube does, brands and influencers can make money in several ways with the rise in short-form videos. Reels and Stories are currently offering monetary incentives and prizes for the most popular videos. Meanwhile, TikTok has launched a program that allows fans to send gifts and tips directly to their favorite creators. Whether your intention is to build brand awareness rapidly, convert click-thrus into actual sales, get great sponsors as an influencer or have a few fantastic viral videos, there’s a platform out there for you.