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Instagram vs. Pinterest

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By Terry Doherty

Now that we know a little bit more about Instagram and Pinterest you’re probably wondering which one is the best for me? And do I need both?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of these two photo-sharing social networks, I would like to offer one suggestion. Even if you aren’t going to use Pinterest or Instagram, you should set up an account. This is the best – and only – way to protect your brand name from (a) being used by someone else; and (b) being misrepresented or misused.

For example, even though I don’t use Instagram, I created a Reading Tub Instagram account so that my nonprofit “owns” that name, not someone else. It also gives me flexibility. If my promotional strategy changes down the road, I haven’t lost the chance to use my branded company name.


There is some overlap but also some very clear distinctions in the audiences that use Instagram and Pinterest. The data in this table comes from a June 2013 analysis by USDM.net, a global marketing agency, and an October 2013 Report [pdf] from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project


  • Mostly women
  • Adults 18 to 29 years old
  • African Americans, Latinos
  • Mostly urban residents, some suburban users
  • Majority have at least some college
  • Annual income more than $75,000

  • Mostly women, with children
  • Adults under 50 years of age
  • Mostly Caucasian
  • Mostly rural residents, large suburban users
  • Majority have at least some college
  • Annual income more than $100,000

“Mobility” is a defining factor that distinguishes these audiences. Instagram is a mobile App. Pinterest has both desktop (browser) and App capabilities. How mobile fits into your business strategy will play into your decision

● If you use your mobile devices passively (read and answer email, browse the web) then you will probably lean toward Pinterest.
● If you actively use mobile to generate original visual content, then Instagram may be a better fit.

InstagramInstagram v. Pinterest – When to Choose Instagram

Quick recap: Instagram is more about sharing your own personal photographs. Include Instagram in your marketing strategy when you want …

1. To tell your story – Instagram users are telling a personal story with “in the moment” images and videos. They aren’t collecting information to plan a party, decorate a room, etc.

This is a platform for sharing the personal side of your business, whether it is creative displays of your product, employees working on a community project, or celebrating milestones. With Instagram’s photo-editing and enhancement tools you can personalize the story and showcase your creativity, too.

2. Engagement more than sales – Instagram won’t directly help you drive sales. This is an end-user platform, so you’re not going to generate a lot of leads or “click throughs” to your other marketing properties.

That said, you can build deeper relationships with customers, extending brand loyalty in ways no other platform can match. It is built for connecting people, and customer participation and conversation go hand-in-hand with that idea. Once you have an account, look for references to your company or book with Instagram’s search to get the conversation started.

Pinterest v. Instagram – When to Choose Pinterest


Quick recap: Pinterest leans more towards uploading photos and images you’ve found on the net.

It may help to think of Pinterest as a file system for keeping and sharing things that interest you. Pick Pinterest when you want …

1. Visual diversity – There are all types of images on Pinterest, not just photographs. There are infographics, sketches, image collages, etc., Combine that with their varying sizes, and you have some visual variety on your boards. .

2. To showcase your expertise – Whatever the topic of your book a Pinterest board lets you share what you know. Let’s say you …

● wrote a book about hiking the Appalachian Trail. You might build a board with the different types of equipment to take on a hike, or maybe trail mix recipes.
● published a picture book about friendship. You might have a board for activities for preschoolers; a board with inspirational quotes about friendship; or a board with your favorite children’s books about friendship.

Pinterest boards are organized around a topic. So as you find things on the web – or write about them on your blog – you can pin them to the relevant board. Be sure to pin your own blog posts to your boards, too!

3. To promote your services – Unlike Instagram, Pinterest drives sales. If you are looking for a visual lead generation tool, Pinterest can help.

● According to a 2012 analysis by Shopify, buyers referred from Pinterest were 10% more likely to make a purchase than a referral from any other social media site.
● In April 2012 PriceGrabber reported that 21% of respondents have purchased items found on Pinterest boards.

If you are selling online, Pinterest is a way that you can showcase your products and inventory, too.

InstagramStill aren’t sure?

Even with all the data – particularly the overlapping demographics – it isn’t an easy decision. This may help. What is the answer to this question: how does mobile marketing fit in your business strategy?

If you use your mobile device for the portability of taking the office with you everywhere, then Pinterest is probably a better fit for you. You’re likely using mobile to read / answer email, catch up on professional reading, and/or browsing the web.

Where Pinterest has a seamless interface between desktop and mobile, Instagram does not. It is 100% driven on mobile. If your company actively creates content for a mobile audience, then Instagram is for you. Ultimately, you want the platform that not just fits your marketing strategy, but advances your long-term goals, as well.

Reading Worth Your Time

— The Difference Between Pinterest and Instagram by DifferenceBetween.net (October 2013)
— Instagram vs. Pinterest; which is more important for brands by Sprout Social (June 2012)
— Pinterest v. Instagram for your brand by Search Engine People (January 2013)
— 5 Ways Instagram beats all other social media sites by Steamfeed (June 2014)
— 25 Ways Pinterest can boost your brand by Crowdshifter (July 2013)

Image credits:
Instagram screenshot: Addicted2success.com
Lorii Myers’ board: Pinterest.com
Instagram and Pinterest App logos: ShalomLife.com

Terry DohertyAbout the Author: Terry Doherty is a voracious reader with a keen analytical eye and a lifelong passion for writing. Combine a passion for reading and kids, a natural affinity for analysis, and a love of solving puzzles, and you’ve got Terry. Before becoming a Mom in late 2001, she spent nearly 20 years as a research analyst, supervisor, mentor, trainer, and analytical program manager with the federal government. She has drawn on her acclaimed expertise as a national security analyst in her roles as senior editor and publishing director for an independent house; and mentor for both her consulting business & flourishing literacy nonprofit.

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