Instagram vs Pinterest: Which is Best for Your Business?


With the amount of visuals being shared and consumed around the web, it’s safe to say that visual content is here to stay. Which is why using images and videos for marketing has become one of the most popular digital marketing trends.

People today are more inclined towards consuming information by viewing rather than reading. And it is due to this heavy demand for visual content that social media giants like Instagram and Pinterest have become popular.

Now when it comes to the debate of Instagram vs Pinterest, and which site can work best to help your business grow, the answer isn’t that straightforward.

Why? Because both of these platforms serve a unique purpose and have their own place in the social media arena. They’re not only visual-centric, but also huge in size due to their own unique selling points.

So whether you choose to leverage one of them or both of them, it ultimately depends on your social media marketing goals. And yes, regardless of the social network you choose, success boils down to sharing great content that can help you build a loyal following.

Even though both of these platforms look similar on the surface, they’re actually very different in many ways. Instagram vs Pinterest users have different goals that they seek to achieve through each of them, which affects the type and nature of visuals they share.

In the following post we’ll be looking deeper into the Pinterest vs Instagram topic, and analyze how both of these amazing visual social networks differ from each other. And how exactly you can leverage them to enhance your business.

Instagram vs Pinterest: What is Instagram?
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you should already be aware of Instagram. In the Instagram vs Pinterest argument, Instagram emerges as a simple yet powerful social media app that lets you upload/share photos/videos through a smartphone.

Any visual that you upload can be seen on your Instagram profile. Plus, people who are following you can see each of your posts in their newsfeed (just like Facebook). The focus on this network is on sharing content via mobile while you interact with other users by following them, commenting on their visuals, liking them, etc.

The best part about Instagram is it can be used by any social media savvy brand to build brand awareness by sharing creative, fun visuals.

Instagram vs Pinterest
Instagram vs Pinterest: What is Pinterest?
Pinterest, often seen by users as a visual bookmarking tool, can be rightly called a web-based bulletin board. What makes Pinterest stand out is the way it lets you organize your content.

The visual sharing app (available for both web and mobile) is used by people to curate and save images and videos for later. Many people use it for future event planning, such as a wedding or even a baby shower.

The activity of saving visuals on Pinterest is called “pinning”. Users usually “pin” visuals they find across the Internet to relevant “boards”, which are nothing but a collection of pins. Upon clicking a visual, the user is taken to the original page where it was found.

Like Instagram, even Pinterest is a social network where people can connect to others through commenting, liking and repinning existing content shared by each other. Which means you can effectively use Pinterest for business growth by sharing and promoting your visual content on it.

Instagram vs Pinterest

Instagram vs Pinterest: Where Do the Adults Hang Out?
Adult users matter a great deal, because they are more likely to spend money and invest in your products/services. Here’s what the stats say about adult usage on these two social media platforms.

53% of adults on the web, in the age group of 18 to 29, use Instagram. And only 34% of them use Pinterest.
25% of adults on the web, in the age group of 30 to 49, use Instagram. While 28% of them use Pinterest.
11% of adults on the web, in the age group of 50 to 64, use Instagram. While 27% of them use Pinterest.
Instagram vs Pinterest: How they Differ & Which One Should You Choose
While there is no denying that Instagram and Pinterest both are powerful visual platforms, you do need to know what makes them unique. And how and why you as a business should choose one or both of them to get a higher social media ROI.

Here are some of the differentiating factors that you need to keep in mind when deciding on Instagram vs Pinterest, and which of the networks is more suitable for your business.

Factor #1: Site Usage
When it comes down to the Instagram vs Pinterest debate, a lot of people forget that both of these platforms have a purpose, which is unique to them. And the way users use them is very different.

Instagram basically lets its users…

Capture pictures/videos from their mobile device
Enhance them with the help of filters
Add relevant and meaningful captions
Share them with others
Instagram is where people not only follow other people, but also brands that post visuals that their audience can connect with. It’s actually a great tool for effective social media branding.

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Brands using Instagram, need to understand that its users are a different breed. They don’t want to see the corporate, faceless version of your company. Rather, they seek more personal and up-close interactions with each brand they follow.

Which means, as a business, Instagram is a place where you need to be transparent with your followers. And give them an authentic view of how you operate, and what your brand stands for.

Instagram vs Pinterest

Pinterest on the other hand mainly is starkly different than the Instagram model. It lets users…

Discover visual content that they find interesting
Curate content the content they find from other users
Many Pinterest users log on to the site to search for relevant visuals that can help them discover a certain type of content or maybe even products that can help them. Which is why 80% of pins happen to be repins, allowing more users to discover new content.

Instagram vs Pinterest

In a way, Pinterest does work as a visual search engine for a large number of users. Because just like Google, it directs people to external websites and helps them discover new content. Does this mean Pinterest marketing can help you generate more traffic that converts into sales? The answer is a resounding yes.

There’s a difference between sharing and discovering. Instagram as a platform is focused on helping users enhance and share the best visual content. And Pinterest lets its users discover new and interesting content.

Since we mentioned that Pinterest is a visual search engine, you have to be sure that your Pins are not only visually appealing, but also provide some value. And how do you do that?

For instance, a gorgeous birthday DIY flower arrangement will go a long way in Instagram. But if pinned on Pinterest, it will not get a lot of repins if you don’t include the instructions on how you did it. Your captions and description should have this information when you Pin this image.

Factor #2: Audience
When it comes to audience, let’s first look at who is using Instagram and how the data compares to Pinterest…

Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly and 500 million daily active users.
50% of the users are based out of the United States of America.
On an average, users upload & share 95 million visuals per day.
The social network collectively rakes in 3.5 billion likes every single day.
When compared to Pinterest, Instagram has almost an equal number of men and women users, with more than 60% of them falling into the younger age bracket.

So for example, if you are a company selling sneakers that wants to connect to the younger generation, Instagram marketing may be the right choice for you.

Now let’s look at some user data from Pinterest, which happens to be one the fastest growing social media platforms we have today.

Pinterest has more than 250 million monthly active users.
50% of the users are based out of the United States of America.
Over 175 billion Pinterest Pins have been shared t0 date and 3 billion Boards created.
A whopping 2 million users save “Shopping Pins” on Boards regularly.
Unlike Instagram, the majority of the Pinterest users (over 70%) happen to be women. According to a Pew research report, Pinterest has the biggest gender difference in comparison to every other social network out there. Although the site has young users, it also has a fair share of older people using it.

So for example, if your firm deals in premium handbags for women and wants more business, selling on Pinterest makes more sense for you.

Factor #3: Desktop vs Mobile on Instagram vs Pinterest
Even though this may seem like a trivial difference, it can make a big difference in the kind of results you see.

Let’s first talk about Instagram that works great as a mobile app, but no so much on the desktop. Why? Because you can only upload and share new content via mobile, whether it is regular posts or Instagram Stories. You can however view visuals and comment on posts via the desktop version.

So if you want to take advantage of Instagram for marketing and brand building, your focus should be mobile. Keep in mind that mobile is one of the biggest reasons why a large number of people open Instagram everyday.

instagram vs pinterest

Pinterest started as a desktop app, but over the years its mobile app has taken over. This could be because of additional features that users find in the mobile version such as buyable pins. And also due to the fact the Pinterest’s infinite scrolling newsfeed is best suited for mobile.

Instagram vs Pinterest

But still, a considerable amount of Pinterest’s traffic comes from desktop users and ecommerce sites have seen higher conversions from them. Which means you may end up getting better results from Pinterest if you are optimizing your campaign for both mobile users and as well desktop users.

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Factor #4: Hashtag Usage
Every Instagram user knows the importance of hashtags on Instagram. They are a key function and help users in more than one way. The best thing about hashtags here is they let users innovate.

People using Instagram not only use hashtags to discover, but also to help others find content with the help of new and creative hashtags. They can also follow hashtags of their choice.

Instagram vs Pinterest

From a business point of view, using hashtags on Instagram makes it easy for you to create a stronger connection with your target audience and let them find your content at the right time. For instance, if you are a local photographer based in New York City, you can reach out to your target audience with hashtags such as #newyorkcityphotographers or #newyorkcityphotography.

Does Pinterest support hashtags? Yes, it does. But they aren’t as useful as they are on Instagram. One of the reasons hashtags are used is to help users find relevant content, like a filing system. However, if you look at how Pinterest works, the pins are already well-labeled. And then there are categories that neatly organize these pins. Which means hashtags don’t play a role when people search for content.

It’s also important to note that only hashtags that you add to the pin’s description are clickable. Which means adding them to your board descriptions, account descriptions, etc won’t serve any real purpose.

Factor #5: Link Sharing
Instagram is a great tool for building your brand identity and spreading awareness about your product/service. However, the fact that you are unable to share any live links in your posts is a definite drawback. Which means you cannot directly drive traffic to your site from your Instagram content.

Besides Instagram Ads where you are obviously allowed to include a link, the only place where you can post a link is your Instagram profile. So in a way, you cannot accurately measure the performance of your Instagram content in terms of traffic.

instagram profile link

Now, coming to Pinterest, things are opposite. One of the biggest advantages of posting visuals to Pinterest is that every pin is directly linked to a website. That’s essentially how Pinterest works for everyone. It not only allows you, as a business, to boost website traffic but also helps you measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

For instance, let’s say there’s a pin (a.k.a an image) showing a simple DIY tutorial on making a cookie basket from a paper plate. Clicking on this pin may lead you to a DIY blog post or a video detailing how to do it. Or it can take you a site that has many more similar tutorials on it.

pinterest pin

Instagram has no intention of appealing to users who want to place links within content. Pinterest on the other hand gives utmost importance to sharing and saving links because its whole model is built around it.

So if you want to grow more awareness about your business and build customer engagement, use Instagram. However, if you want to funnel in visitors back to your site by distributing content, then Pinterest is where you should focus on. So in the debate of Instagram vs Pinterest in regards to links and, it all depends on if you want engagement vs website traffic.

Factor #6: Storytelling
Instagram users are always looking for a more personal experience when they interact with a brand they follow. But how do you really define or understand this experience? The answer is storytelling. Because visuals can prove to be great tools for telling engaging stories.

If you’re an Instagram user you should already know that most people on it want to see powerful visuals from brands that are…

Instagram is an effective platform when it comes to using images or videos to create a creative yet personal connection with your target audience.

And the best part is, you can share your content without sacrificing your aim to communicate more information related to your products/services. If you can leverage the storytelling potential of Instagram, such as using Instagram stories, you can make it a win-win situation for you and your prospects.

instagram storytelling

When it comes to true storytelling, you don’t have to really compare Instagram vs Pinterest, because even Pinterest can be used to connect with your target audience.

By strategically using Pinterest theme boards, you can not only engage the right users, but also get them to take action. Because visual stories often make a bigger, more lasting impact. By adding a storytelling element to a Pinterest contest or a promotional campaign, you can increase your chances of getting positive results.

pinterest board

Factor #7: Video Content
Instagram has come a long when it comes to the kind of visuals it lets you share, including social media video. Besides posting images, you can share many different forms of videos to your page, such as…

Video clips that you directly upload from your mobile phone
Video content that you record right inside the app
Boomerang clips, which are mini videos that loop back and forth
Live videos that you share with followers in real-time
Story videos that add personality to your brand
video content

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Since Instagram is not limited to images, you can use it creatively to make the most of its video sharing feature. However, the same cannot be said about Pinterest because the site only allows you pin a video link that takes you to an external video hosted on another site such as Vimeo or YouTube.

promotional video

You do have an option to upload videos directly to Pinterest, but it’s only available for promotional purposes. So unless you are paying Pinterest for video delivery, you’ll have to stick to posting links to videos or post gifs.

Factor #8: Image Editing
Instagram started as an image enhancement tool, allowing users to edit photos, which is an important feature even today. If you are a regular user of Instagram, you should already know how it helps you enhance your images.

By applying different filters or doing basic things such as increasing brightness, improving sharpness or adding more contrast you can make your visuals stand out from the rest. While matching the tone of your content with your branding. What’s more, they’ve even added face filters to live video.

instagram filter

However, the same cannot be said about Pinterest because it doesn’t allow you to edit, change or enhance your images in any way. Which means you’ll have to do your own editing before uploading your images to Pinterest.

Factor #9: Display Order
Does the display order matter? To an extent, yes. Because how your followers see your content can influence the results you see.

Let’s first talk about Instagram that displays all photos/videos in an organized, chronological order. The Instagram newsfeed is refreshed and any of your new visual content is shown to your followers as soon as they login. Which means, the more you post on Instagram, the higher is your reach.

instagram algorithm

Pinterest is different in this case because your followers do not see your pins in a chronological fashion. Pins displayed to users are in a way based on their past history or their current interests.

The Pinterest algorithm only shows content that it feels is relevant to the user in their smart feed, working similarly to Facebook. So if you are a business operating on Pinterest, you may want to adopt a different strategy than Instagram. Because people following your brand may or may not see your pins.

Factor #10: Advertising
Instagram advertising is in demand today because it is giving real-world results. One of the main reasons for its success is the fact it is tied in with its parent company, Facebook. The type of targeting options you see on Instagram are precise and versatile because of this.

When you run targeted ads on Instagram, you’re basically tapping into its wide user base, which makes it easier for you to connect to people based anywhere in the world. Also, the fact that as an advertiser you can add a call to action button to your post makes it even more appealing.

instagram ad

Here are the different types of Instagram ads that you can run:

Photo ads
Video ads
Carousel ads
Stories ads
As for advertising on Pinterest, you can only use their ad platform if your business is based in the US, which kind of limits your reach. Pinterest allows you to pay for ads either based on engagement or the number of clicks generated.

pinterest ad

Given below are the different types of Pinterest ad formats:

Promoted pins
Promoted video pins
Promoted carousels
Promoted app pins
Instagram vs Pinterest: The Verdict
After going through the differentiating factors that we discussed above, you should try to determine which one of them is right (Instagram vs Pinterest) for your brand by taking the following factors into consideration…

Your target audience
Your marketing strategy
Your business goals
Your availability of time & resources
The idea is to focus on your ideal prospect or customer, and then take it from there. You can also analyze your competition and the approach they are taking towards social media marketing. See which of them is giving them the best results as it may bring down your own chances of failure.

If you are having a hard time choosing the best one for growing your business, then you may want to try using both of them. But do it only if you can create quality content for both the platforms because that’s something you do not want to compromise on. If you want to be on both platforms but don’t have the time, then contact us about using our Pinterest Marketing or Instagram Marketing services.

In short, Pinterest is the recommended tool if you trying to generate high converting traffic to your website. But if your focus is on improving your online reputation management and building a stronger brand, then you may want to put more efforts into Instagram marketing.