I’ve often been asked what the difference between Pinterest and Instagram marketing is and which one is right for a business’ social media plan. On the surface they both look similar – people glancing through pictures, browsing at what they like – but then that’s where the similarities end. Let’s dive in deeper to see what the differences between both networks are.

Pinterest vs. Instagram Marketing - Which Is Right For You?

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a mobile app that allows users to upload and share photos. You can view Instagram photos on their website, but you can only upload photos through the mobile app. You’re also able to create short videos that last up to 15 seconds with Instagram.

Instagram is a place where people and brands share their own photos, experiences, and visual stories. These photos are often creative, fun, and can help grow the brand awareness of a business.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is both available on the web and as an app that allows for users to visually bookmark information from websites and discover content from other pinners. These pins are then collected into personalized categories known as boards. Users can also upload pictures through the app and desktop site which provides them the option of the pins redirecting Pinterest users to a certain website.

Pinterest is a place where people curate content that they want to read or see later, use Pinterest to help plan out a future event or create a wish list.

A major difference between Instagram and Pinterest is that Pinterest is a visual search engine where users look for lifestyle search results such as recipes, do it yourself activities, travel activities and so much more.

Instagram Vs. Pinterest

Pinterest Allows for Pins to Be Linked Back to a Website

One of the benefits of Pinterest for businesses is that pins on Pinterest usually link to a website, which allows businesses to measure whether a pin is effective at driving traffic.

Instagram versus Pinterest (1)

Let’s say you see a pin of the Eiffel Tower on Paris. Chances are when you click on that pin it will lead you to a travel site that’s written an article about Paris or to a photo collection that focuses on Paris. If the website has analytics set up, they could also track how many clicks that photo is receiving.

Instagram – Photo-Centric

Instagram is primarily showing you beautiful pictures, and if you were to tap on a picture on Instagram it wouldn’t take you back to a site where you could find relevant information regarding the picture. Instagram is a space where businesses can increase their brand awareness and engagement with their community.

Pinterest is Not Shown in Chronological Order

When people follow other people on Pinterest, the pins that people see are not shown to them based on a chronological order. Instead people are shown pins based on Pinterest’s algorithm of what they believe would be relevant to the user based on previous pins they’ve clicked, their interests and previous websites they’ve visited.

This known as Pinterest’s smart feed, and operates as similar philosophy to Facebook’s newsfeed.

This can be a bit of a challenge for businesses, because it means that people who follow a business’ Pinterest account or a specific board may not see what they’re pinning because Pinterest may deem that the pin is irrelevant to the user.

Instagram Shows Photos in Chronological Order

Instagram shows pictures based in a chronological order. People who follow you on Instagram will see your content if they happen to login after you post. Unlike Pinterest, photos are shown in one stream according to when they were posted by the user.

This way, if you wanted, you can see every Instagram photo of every person you follow simply by scrolling down.

Audience Size on Pinterest

Pinterest hasn’t released their official numbers in a long time, but it’s reported that approximately 70 million people use Pinterest around the world.

Audience Size on Instagram

When you compare that to Instagram which has over 300 million users you can easily see that Instagram has a larger global audience.

Advertising on Instagram

Since Facebook owns Instagram and is tied to it, there’s definitely greater targeting ability within Instagram at this time. They allow people to swipe for extra information, and only advertisers can exclusively have a button that links back to their website.

Instagram marketing ads

With 300 million people using Instagram it’s much easier to reach people on a local, national and international level.

Advertising on Pinterest

Advertising on Pinterest is still only available to businesses in the U.S. and with an estimated 45 million users of Pinterest coming to the U.S. making it a limited platform. These promoted pins can be paid for based on Cost Per Engagement or (close ups, repins, and clicks) ad CPC (clicks but repins and close ups are free).


Instagram’s design allows for users to see one picture at a time in their feed, which allows a brand that 1/10th of a second advantage to grab your attention. It doesn’t have to compete with another picture until you decide to go to the next picture. In a way, this gives a true “impression” when reaching people.

With Pinterest, your pins are competing against the pin next to it, below it and on top of it. And that’s a lot of competition. So if you’re surrounded by 3 other more amazing pins, the chances of yours being clicked through decreases dramatically and the worst part is that you don’t even know if someone even spent 1/10th of a second looking at it.

Instagram and Pinterest Demographics:

According to Pew Research

  • 53% of online adults between the ages of 18-29 use Instagram compared to 34% for Pinterest.
  • 25% of online adults between the age of 30-49 use Instagram while 28% use Pinterest.
  • 11% of online adults between the ages 50-64 use Instagram while 27% of them use Pinterest.

Which One is Right For Your Business?

Those are some of the major differences between Pinterest and Instagram. Now to determine whether one or the other, or both are right for your business, you’ll need to understand the audience that you’re trying to reach, your marketing strategy, your goals and how much time and resources you have to dedicate to such networks.

Also take a look at what your competitors are doing on both these social networks. If you notice that they have traction on Pinterest and/or Instagram, then that’s a good sign your business can attain an engaged community on the platforms.

And with that type of information you will have a solid idea of what to do, and where to be on social media.

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