Insta­gram Reels vs Sto­ry: What Are the Differences

Parth Shah

Instagram’s journey has been predictable. The company started as a photo-sharing service and quickly adopted the latest trends in the core app. First, it brought support for video uploading, then Instagram direct message arrived. Later, Instagram took a page from the Snapchat book and implemented Instagram Stories. Now, the Facebook-owned company is boarding TikTok train with Instagram Reels—a 15-second video function with music, live filters, and all the fun stuff. At times, it becomes confusing for users to choose between Instagram Story and Reels.

Reels vs story

Both the Instagram Story and Reels are integrated into the same interface. You can swipe right from the main interface and open the viewfinder menu with Story, Live, and Reels option.

At first glance, Story and Reels may feel identical, but they both serve different purposes to the users. In this post, we will talk about the major differences between Instagram Reels and Story. Let’s get started.

Where Is Instagram Story and Reels

Both Instagram Reels and Story are in the same interface. You can swipe right or tap on the story option at the upper left corner to open the camera interface on Instagram.

Instagram reels

By default, Instagram opens the Story interface and urges users to opt for Instagram Story. Swipe left to open Instagram Live and Swipe Right to go to Instagram Reels.

Fundamental Differences

Instagram describes Stories as something that lets you ‘share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile’. The feature enables you to share multiple photos and videos, and they appear together in a slideshow format, which means a reel, like Snapchat. And, of course, these photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours.

Instagram reels tips

Instagram Reels is a content format that allows you to create and share 15-second videos with others in a new dedicated Feed on the Explore page. Much like TikTok, Instagram Reels offers you a set of creative tools to create fun, engaging short videos on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip Reels videos with audio, text, special effects, and stickers, then share them with your followers.

In many ways, the Instagram Story videos overlap with Instagram Reels. The company has added several functions to clear the differences between the two.

Tools to Create Content

Since Instagram Stories feature has been around for a while, you will find better and feature-rich options to create a perfect story. Instagram Reels is a relatively new kid around the block. While the company has added most-relevant features for the Reels, it’s nowhere near the Story to create content.

Below are the major tools to compose a nice-looking Instagram Story.

Text: You can add text to your Instagram Story with a bunch of gradient backgrounds.

Boomerang: With Boomerang, you can create captivating mini videos that loop back and forth, then share them with your friends.

Layout: As the name suggests, the Instagram Layout lets you fit up to 6 photos in a single Story. You can select from a bunch of frame sizes and shapes.

Story layout

Superzoom: Superzoom lets you zoom into the content using various effects such as Heart, Fire, Dramatic, Beat, etc. It’s popular among the young generation.

Story effect

Hands-free: The new hands-free feature allows you to record a video with just one tap.

On top of that, you can always add a bunch of effects, stickers, draw doodles, and even add text with fancy fonts, place, and time to the Story.

Story doodling

Instagram has nailed the Story experience. On top of that, you won’t have a hard time finding the tool that you are looking for. Everything is nicely laid out to keep it as simple as for the end-user.

Reels feel more engaging, live, and fun with music and playback speed. Unlike Story, the Reels is all about using the perfect music with matching video and creating a relevant Reels with effects and stickers. Take a look at all the Reels features and you will see how it’s more geared towards different creators.

Music: Music is a core part of making an attention-grabbing Reel. Instagram is offering tons of ready-to-go music clips to choose from.

Music to reels

Adjust Recording Speed: A lot of users are going to love it. You can slow down the video by 5x or speed up the Reel by 3x. It’s different than Story Boomerang.

Effects: Effects are the heart of the Instagram experience. Based on the mood, you can add Silly face, Party Lights, Green Screen, and choose from dozens of other effects for a perfect Instagram Reels.

Add timer

Video Time: Instagram Reels allows us to create up to 15 seconds of video. But it’s not necessary to stretch the video to 15 seconds every time. You can create a 5 second or 10-second video too.

Add Timer: This is something that’s missing from the Instagram Story. You can set a three-second timer to capture the right moments at the right time.

Align Captured Video: If the captured video came as shaky or blurry, you could use the Align option to straighten things out.

Reels align

Looking at the list of features, you can see that Instagram Story tools are more geared towards improving the final image. Instagram Reels features are aimed at creating a pleasing, attractive video.

Sharing Experience

There is a notable difference when it comes to sharing an Instagram Story and a Reel. With Story, you can share it among your followers via direct message or post it in your profile. However, the Instagram story won’t be added to your feed. And it will disappear after 24 hours.

Share reels

You can share Instagram Reels everywhere. Instagram allows you to share Reels as Story, use Direct Message to send it to followers, and even post it on your feed. You will also find a dedicated Reels tab in the Explore menu.

In short, Instagram Reels has a better chance to reach a wider audience than the Story.

Story or Reels: Your Pick

It all depends on the type of content you are creating for the followers. Stories are a more personal way to share memories with friends and family. Reels take the experience further with music, playback, and other options. Marketers, publishers, and influencers are going to love it. What about you? Which feature are you using the most to share those cherished moments on Instagram? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

Next up: Looking to master Instagram Story? Read the post below to learn top fifteen tips and tricks for it.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

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Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.