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Comparing Pinterest and Instagram for your business


That’s how many times quicker people process images than text.

And with photos on Facebook generating more “likes” than text, videos or links, there can be little doubt that images play a significant role in social media marketing.

Two clients approached us last month for a little advice. They were comparing Pinterest and Instagram and wondering which would suit their digital marketing strategy better.

One is a small but high-end women’s fashion retailer selling niche products exclusively online. The other is a newly-launched food blog with a fast growing subscription list and a lot of social media attention.

In an ideal world, we’d like to see both clients busy across both platforms. However, right now they just don’t have the resources to make an impact on both.

So we helped them come to a decision – and with a bit of luck, we can help you too.

comparing pinterest and instagram

Comparing Pinterest and Instagram – what’s the difference?

Pinterest is an online noticeboard where users can share photos, videos, links and other images. Users can group the images on boards under specific topics or themes.

Your average Pinterest user is typically interested in the discovery and curation of content and products, the formation of lists and social shopping.

Instagram is a different animal. The smartphone app allows users to create their own content with its photo-filtering capability. Pictures are uploaded prolifically – at a rate of 216,000 photos per minute.

For Instagram, the user’s focus is on the creation as opposed to the curation of content.

But that’s not to say Pinterest isn’t a good place to display beautiful content. Between the first and third quarter last year its active user base grew 111%. Your images will get eyeballs.

Nor is Instagram a barren ground for business – 58% of the Interbrand Top 100 have active accounts – with Nike leading the way courtesy of a whopping 12.6 million followers. Not to be sniffed at.

Which platform is right for my business?

If both platforms are similarly popular and have aspects of overlapping functionality, how do you know which will suit you best?

One of the most frequently cited differences between the platforms is their demographics.

Of Pinterest’s 70 million users, 70% are women – significantly more than Instagram:-


Pinterest has a much older user base than Instagram. A third of all American adults use Pinterest, with almost 20% of the total user base over 45.

So how can this inform your choice?

Well, in the case of our retail client we already had the stat we were looking for.

The company caters exclusively for women, so a female-majority platform seemed a no-brainer.

Additionally, with relatively high-priced, high-end products and research showing Pinterest users on average having a household income above £65,000 it’s very possible the platform contains a greater number of potential customers.

By contrast, over half of Instagram users are under 35 (and 20% under 17 – an age group likely to have less disposable income).

Pinterest is well suited for an online retailer like our client. Referrals via Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase.

The site offers retailers a highly functional platform for their products. “Product pins” automatically include updated details such as price changes – as well as higher click-through rates than normal pins.

Crucially, Pinterest is a traffic driver. Each pin links back to the original source of the content – vital for any online business. In 2013 Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites than Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn combined.

So why didn’t we recommend Pinterest for our other client?

Good question. Well, rather than selling a product she’s looking to build a community.

Instagram encourages interactions with a straightforward user experience – it’s easy to comment and like – so much so that, with 29,000 likes a second, Instagram boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook.

The personal touch is a popular aspect of her blog.

By showcasing her personality and sharing her day-to-day life through Instagram pictures, she’s been able to develop a bond with her followers that has allowed people to really connect with her writing and cooking.

Many of our client’s blogs feature stunning images of the finished creations – and, with its 17 different filters, Instagram is the perfect place to display them in all their glory.

Hashtags are huge on Instagram. You can use up to 30 on any post.

Used for searching as much as tagging, our client can use hashtags to position her pictures in front of lots of relevant users in multiple fields including #health and #chocolate simultaneously!

Your target audience should drive your decision

If you are comparing Pinterest and Instagram, there’s no doubt that both platforms can be powerful marketing tools, particularly given their large – and growing – user bases.

There is some overlap in functionality – they are often paired together as “the visual social platforms” – and there’s little doubt that both our clients could market effectively on either.

However, knowledge of their target audiences as well as their business models drove our decision-making process.

If you’d like any assistance at all with your social media marketing – or would like to find out a bit more about how Pinterest and Instagram actually work – don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to help.

First pic courtesy of Braid Creative – thanks guys.