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Pinterest vs. Instagram (and which one is right for your small business)

By Alexandra Gavril - May 7, 2019

Creating and sharing images and videos for marketing has become one of the most popular and effective digital marketing tactics in the last few years. Why?

Because people don’t read on the web. They prefer to consume information by viewing rather than reading. That’s one of the main reasons why social media networks like Pinterest and Instagram have become so popular.

Wondering how these two platforms are different and which one could give your small business the biggest boost?

Let’s take a closer look at Pinterest and Instagram and analyse how they differ from each other so you can decide which one’s worth putting in the time and resources to enhance your small business.

Target audience

If you want your social media efforts to pay off, you need to go where your potential customer like to spend time online. Let’s look at who is using Instagram and Pinterest to help you make an informed decision.

 Here are some stats on Instagram’s audience, according to Hootsuite:

  • 1 billion active users
  • 64% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram
  • More women (39%) than men (30%) are using Instagram
  • For users aged 18 to 34: there are 20 million more male users than female

Now here are some stats on Pinterest’s audience, according to SproutSocial:

  • 250 million active users
  • 81% of users are women
  • For adults aged 18–34, half of them use Pinterest at least once a month
  • 40% of pinners have an income of $100k+, 50% make $50k+

So, for example, if you’re selling custom t-shirts to the younger generation, Instagram marketing may be the best choice for your small business. But if you’re an event planner, Pinterest might make more sense for you.

Content curation vs. content creation

Visual content is the bread and butter of both Pinterest and Instagram. But despite initial similarities, they are very different platforms.

The main difference lies in the fact that people use them differently.

Pinterest is more of a content curation platform or a visual bookmarking tool, if you will. It enables users to discover and curate content they find interesting. People can save links and visual content depending on their interests, and organise them into different boards.

With Pinterest, the topic is more important and relevant than time, meaning that it doesn’t matter so much if the content was created two years ago or ten minutes ago.

On the other hand, Instagram focuses more on content creation, encouraging users to take stunning photos and videos to document and share their experiences with others.

Unlike Pinterest, the content on Instagram is displayed chronologically on user profiles and news feed, similar to how Twitter works. Additionally, users can share “Stories” that disappear after 24 hours, emphasizing the newsy aspect of this platform.

Additional value

If you own a hair salon, a gorgeous image of a customer hairdo can work well on Instagram. On Pinterest, however, that image may not get a lot of repins if there are no DYI instructions or other useful tips and advice attached to the description.

To exemplify, take a quick look at what shows up when searching for “hairdresser” on Instagram vs. Pinterest:

As you can see, Instagram is more about sharing instant photos and videos or content pulled from one’s photo library.

Pinterest, on the other hand, focuses more on adding extra value by including custom graphics, explanatory text, quotes or links to more helpful information. This also means that creating content for Pinterest takes more time than it does for Instagram.

Content discovery

If you’re at all familiar with Instagram, you likely know how important hashtags are at helping users to discover new content. Users can also choose to follow specific hashtags, depending on their interests and passions.

From a business point of view, using hashtags on Instagram makes it easy for users to find your content at the right time. For example, if you own a coffee shop in London, you can reach out to your target audience with hashtags such as #londoncoffee or #londoncoffeeshops.

Now, while Pinterest supports hashtags as well, they’re not as necessary or as useful as they are on Instagram. That’s because Pinterest doesn’t use hashtags to organise content.

Instead, posts are typically saved and organised into different boards, which users can name as they see fit.

Here are a few examples:

So, appropriately naming your boards can help you to get found in user searches, and through the Pinterest algorithm.

Link sharing

Except for a link in the business profile (also known as ‘bio’), Instagram doesn’t allow links in post captions or comments. Well, you can type in a URL but it won’t be an active one.

Here’s how it looks:

On Pinterest, however, you can add a link to every post or pin you share on the platform. This makes it a great platform for promoting content like blog posts, how-to tutorials and guides.

Selling vs increasing brand awareness

Pinterest is an online shopping paradise. Just look at these stats:

  • 90% of weekly users use Pinterest to make purchase decisions
  • 59 % of millennials have discovered products on Pinterest
  • 55% of pinners are looking specifically for products

Even the platform looks and feels like a huge catalogue of products. So if your target audience is on Pinterest, you might consider creating an account to market your products and boost sales, especially given that links can send visitors directly to your site or product pages.

While Instagram doesn’t allow active links in captions or comments, the platform can be very effective at raising brand awareness and staying top of mind with prospects and customers, which can help to drive sales.

Content lifespan

Pins have a long lifespan. In fact, Pinterest posts have been reported to last up to four months. So while creating content for Pinterest takes more time and effort, it’s worth it considering you’ll still be getting traffic (and hopefully, sales) long after you share a piece of content.

In contrast, Instagram posts have a very short lifespan of up to 24 hours. On the other hand, creating content for this platform takes less time and effort so it’s up to you to decide which one works best for you.

Wrapping up

When deciding which social media platforms your small business should be on, always consider where your target audience spends time online, your business goals as well as how much time and effort you’re willing to invest to maintain an active and engaging presence.

If you want to learn more about how to use Pinterest and Instagram to grow your small business, make sure to check out these two guides: