I recently spoke with the director of marketing for a popular food brand who told me her organization was debating the pros and cons of Pinterest versus Instagram.

She’s not alone.

Whether you work for a large or small company, this debate is important for your brand. Pinterest and Instagram are great ways for organizations to connect with customers. It’s no secret that visual content is hot right now.

People process text 60,000 times more slowly than images, and photos generate more “Likes” on Facebook than text, videos, or links.

With so many visual social media platforms to choose from, and with limited resources to go around, choosing between Pinterest and Instagram for your brand can be challenging. What are the differences, and which platform is right for you?

The short answer? It depends on your target audience.

Pinterest and Instagram: What are the differences?

Pinterest is an online bulletin board where users can share photos, videos, links, and other images. Users can group the images (called “pins”) together on “boards” that have specific topics or themes. When you think Pinterest, think about finding images.

On the other hand, Instagram is a free photo-sharing application for iPhone and Android. After taking photos, users then add filters, which give pizzazz to everyday photos and transform them into works of art. When you think Instagram, think about producing images.

Who uses Pinterest?

Pinterest keeps its user numbers close to its chest. Data from July 2013 reports the platform has 70 million users. According to the GWI Social Report released in November 2014, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks, with its active user base up 111% from Q1 to Q3 2014.

Women make up 70 per cent of Pinterest users, says The Social Habit and Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Food is the top category on Pinterest with 57% of users discussing food-related content.

In addition, Nordstrom is the most popular Pinterest brand with 4.4 million followers. Nike and adidas are the top two brands on Instagram, with 9,376,811 and 3,692,589 followers respectively.

Pinterest users have an average household income greater than $100,000 and are generally older, although 56 per cent of users fall within its main 18 to 34-year-old demographic.


Who’s on Instagram?

Earlier this month, Instagram announced 300 million people around the world are Instagramming, sharing 70 million pictures and videos every day. Those numbers make Instagram more popular than Twitter, which had 284 million active monthly users as of Q3 2014. In addition, 2.5 billion photos are “liked” on Instagram every day–close to 29,000 photos per second.

While Pinterest’s users are primarily female, Instagram has a more even gender representation (between 55 to 68 per cent of users are female). Instagram is also more popular with the 18 to 34-year-old group.


How are businesses using Pinterest and Instagram?

Pinterest and Instagram are both all about visual content, and these platforms provide an important opportunity for organizations to connect with audiences by using photo and video. By using visual content, brands can resonate emotionally with audiences and help them learn more about their business.

Here are just a few examples of how marketers are using Pinterest and Instagram.

Connect with a wider audience

Both consumer brands, such as Starbucks, and B2B companies, like General Electric, are engaging on Instagram to connect with more people.


Contests increase participation

Businesses can create pin to win contests on Pinterest. In pin to win, brands invite people to pin their favourite images to win prizes. Here’s one recent example from Ritz Crackers with its “Pin Your Holiday Party to Win $10,000” contest.


Instagram’s photo contests are simple to create. Followers use a hash tag to label photos. From there, it’s easy to locate the entries and choose a winner. Montana’s “Make Your Grill Mark Challenge” invites people to post a photo for a chance to win a $5,000 vacation.


Promote events

Have a conference, trade show, or other special event to promote?

Both platforms are great ways to get the word out to your audience. These platforms allow you to showcase photos and video from previous events, highlight the event location’s city, promote the event’s suppliers, partners, and speakers, and share images from other publications on the topic of your event, as well as white papers.

Pinterest or Instagram? Which one is right for you?

If your organization is having trouble choosing between Pinterest or Instagram, the deciding factor is the audience you are targeting. If they are more apt to find images, Pinterest is for you. If your audience is more likely to create images, you’ll want to choose Instagram.

You’ll also need to consider your demographic. Looking to connect with a younger audience? Instagram may be right for your business. If your demographic is an older, female audience, you might want to go with Pinterest.

If you need help getting started with social media, get in touch.

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