Pinterest and Instagram- Thoughts from the 2014 Social Media Insider Summit

By , On August 25th, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing, Pinterest, Pinterest Best Practices, Pinterest Marketing.

With more than 270 million active users between them, Pinterest and Instagram are two of the largest visual social networks on the planet.  And while they both offer rich visual experiences, the question brands continue to ask is: how are they similar, and what are the differences between them? That’s the question I explored at this year’s Social Media Insider Summit in Tahoe, CA.

Social Media Insider Summit

The Similarities: Positive Interactions, Rich Audience Interest Data

Pinterest and Instagram are happy networks, and interactions on these platforms are generally positive (especially when compared to Twitter or Facebook), mood-elevating, aspirational and inspirational.

Both are image and interest-based public networks, accessed primarily through mobile devices (75% for Pinterest and nearly 100% for Instagram,) and are unique in that users follow others primarily because of similar content interests, not personal relationships. This willingness to share and consume content outside of personal circles is remarkably high; more than 50% of Instagram profiles are public, and 50% of re-pinning on Pinterest happens outside of the feed.

From a marketer’s standpoint this makes for incredibly fertile ground. Users leave “trails” about their interests (such as hiking, prenatal yoga, barbeque recipes, or chaise lounges) on these networks, allowing marketers to segment audiences and create a targeted content marketing strategy. These “trails” also help brands identify and engage with specific influencers for different categories, gather insights into trending photos, and apply those insights to marketing on other channels.

The Difference: Instagram and Pinterest Occupy Opposite Ends of the Purchase Funnel

There are some fundamental differences between Pinterest and Instagram, especially as far as content types, content discoverability, and user intent are concerned.

1) Instagram is a visual moment sharing platform, where people take, post and share original photos. Pinterest is an inspiration collection network, where users Pin existing products, recipes and photos from the web. Bottom line: Pinterest is not for UGC, and Instagram is not for curation.

2) Content discovery on Instagram is driven by hashtags, not virality. There is no re-gramming, as the emphasis is on original content creation and sharing. Content discovery on Pinterest is driven by re-pinning and organic pinning directly from a website, as more than 90% of Pins originate from a website and 80% are repins.

To get noticed on Instagram, create and promote a compelling hashtag that reflects both your brand and the lifestyle it represents, for example #lifeinlevis. Great hashtags will get adopted by your audience, and more hashtags (up to 7) drive more likes.

To enhance your content’s discoverability on Pinterest, you should optimize your website for pinning, and Pin regularly across all your boards, as more Pins leads to more repins and clicks.

3) Instagram is a channel to build strong emotional bonds with your audience and engage in powerful visual storytelling. It’s a very “human” network, and brands have to act like humans when it comes to posting on Instagram. This starts with following general etiquette, such as not posting more than a few times a day. Another important factor is consistency; pick a theme, and stick to it for a period of time. Doing so builds recognition and helps followers learn what to expect from your brand, while bouncing from theme to theme can confuse users and cause un-follows.

Finally, for content to succeed on Instagram, it needs to be ‘relatable,’ and should feel like a human took that photo in the moment. Photos should have a person in it, or look like they were taken from a person’s perspective.

4) Pinterest fuels mid-to-bottom funnel types of interaction, and e-commerce, retailers, publishers and travel brands can use it to drive social engagement as well as direct response metrics such as clicks and sales. To maximize returns from Pinterest, brands should consider distributing the best content from their website and catalog consistently on Pinterest, as it lives for a very long time! 50% of clicks come from Pins that are more than 2.5 months old, and 50% of revenue from Pinterest is generated by Pins that are older than 3.5 months.

What About Ads?

Pinterest and Instagram are both in their second phase of rolling out an advertising program. They have completed initial testing with select partners,and are now scaling those programs to Long Tail advertisers. Pinterest recently extended their Promoted Pins product to CPC ads that are available to any advertiser, while Instagram is hinting at a broader advertiser program with the launch of their campaign tracking dashboard.

Summing Up: Use the Right Tool for the Right Job!

Brand marketers looking to drive metrics such as awareness and brand recall should seriously consider experimenting with Instagram, and success will come as you tweak your creative to find the vein that resonates with your community. Direct Response marketers interested in clicks, sales and conversions can harness the massive potential of Pinterest to promote their products, turbocharge referral traffic, increase average order value, and drive sales.


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