Pinterest vs. Instagram for Your Brand

by Brittney Dudar January 8th, 2013 

40% of people respond better to visual information than text. (source: HubSpot) Pinterest and Instagram contribute to a significant amount of people getting visual. When it comes to utilizing these tools in your business' marketing strategy, which one should you choose to spend your precious time on in your effort to build and strengthen your brand?

Let's review the lo-down on Pinterest and Instagram.


As the fastest growing website ever, Pinterest is an excellent visual social platform for businesses to be on to capture an engaged audience. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest users do not have to sign up for an account to view pins. I used to browse the fashion pins of Pinterest for months before finally deciding to sign up for an account. Now I'm a pin-addict. So although Pinterest's 12 million active users doesn't quite compare to Instagram's 100 million, the proportion of unique visits combined with returning visitors who haven't created an account makes up for it in the over 104 million visits per month that Pinterest gets (Source: HubSpot). Pinterest has also been responsible for more referral traffic to businesses than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined!

Pinterest is a good idea for your business if:

  1. You're an eCommerce retailer and have pictures or videos of your products. Especially if they fall into some of the categories available on Pinterest, where your relevant and popular pins could show up to users browsing those categories. Users who come across pins of your products and click through will be taken to that product or category page on your site.
  2. Your business produces great content. When your business products a piece of content, push it out on Pinterest like you would on other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. For example, here at Search Engine People we pin our blog posts, infographics, company news and other industry content. We also have boards related to other funny or interesting things that we come across. Here are a couple of examples of pins from our boards:

This pin is from YouTube. It's SEP's Gangnam Style Parody - SEP Style!

This cat is from our "Funnies" board.

This pin is a blog post from the SEP blog, pinned to our "Social Media" board.



Instagram is the visual social networking platform that originated as a mobile app. Gaining over 100 million users in just over 2 years, it's no wonder that over 40% of leading brands are now on Instagram. (source: What Instagram does offer brands is access to a large and engaged mobile user base via visual content. In fact, Instagram recently beat Twitter in the number of daily active mobile users - Instagram had 7.3 million daily active users while Twitter lagged slightly behind at 6.9 million (source: Given that Twitter has over 555 million users, this is a significant statistic that highlights just how engaged Instagrammers are. Your business could be missing out on over 100 million engaged users by not being on Instagram.

Instagram is a good idea for your business if:

  1. You're an eCommerce retailer and have great pictures of your products. It's also a great way to get feedback from your audience on what they like and don't, as commenting on photos tends to be more popular on Instagram than on Pinterest, where users will re-pin more than comment or like photos (source: Hubspot). Photos that many retail brands post on Instagram tend to be less traditional eCommerce product page photos and more creative photos that are more likely to get a user's attention. For example, check out these Steve Madden pins, and note the difference in the way they position their products while pinning vs. instagramming. The pinned image is similar to what would be seen on an eCommerce product page, while the Instragrammed photo is a more creative, casual way of showcasing footwear.
  2. You have a story to tell. Instagram is intimate. Many celebrities post pictures and immediately connect with their fans who are using Instagram (I've never felt closer to Bieber than I do since I started following him on Instagram!). Posting photos of your company events, successes and employees shows your audience your brand's personality and tells your brands' story, enabling your audience to connect and relate to what goes on behind the scenes. These kinds of pictures don't make as much sense to post to Pinterest, since you should make it a habit to link back your site to increase traffic, and may not be a place on your website some of the pictures live.

The Verdict

So...which visual tool is best for your business? In my opinion: Pinstagram!

Both Pinterest and Instagram offer unique ways to connect with and engage your audience. Here are a few take home points while you ponder visual:

  • Pinterest drives referral traffic back to your site through pinned images that link back to products or content on your site
  • Instagram offers a unique and intimate way to connect with your audience by letting users in on creative images of your products, services or company events
  • Some members of your precious audience may not be on Pinterest, but are on Instagram (and vice versa) and you don't want to miss out on reaching engaged users
  • It's extremely easy to share photos from Instagram to your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Flickr profiles
  • Instagram recently launched web profiles, and although the current functionality is strictly the existence of the profile on the web, it represents Instagram branching out to reach a wider audience of those on desktop

Don't forget - Pinning and Instagraming valuable and engaging visual content is a good way to provide your audience with content that they may enjoy, and you'll gain brand visibility and recognition simply by appearing on your followers' photo feeds. If users like the visuals you post, they'll follow and engage with your images. For example, being in the digital marketing industry I follow HubSpot on Pinterest, but I particularly like checking out they're "Things With Spots" board to see what cute, spotted images they're pinning, like this:


What do you recommend using as your visual social marketing tool? How have you used Pinterest & Instagram for your brand?

Brittney Dudar

Brittney is a Google AdWords Certified Paid Search Specialist on the PPC team at Search Engine People. Brittney is passionate about digital media, blogging, philanthropy, music and fashion.


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4 Responses to “Pinterest vs. Instagram for Your Brand”

  1. Shawn says:

    I agree that both Pinterest and Instagram are valuable for a business, however the numbers don't lie. Instagram is far more popular than Pinterest (based on my social circle of about 7,000 people). Instgram definitely has more a of personal feel to it than Pinterest. I've personally made purchases at Whole Foods because of hash tags used on peoples photos in my feed.

    If a company has the resources to utilize both Pinterest & Instagram, all the better. But if you have to choose one, I'd recommend Instagram.

  2. Brittney Dudar says:

    Interesting point of view, Shawn! I agree that Instagram has a more personal feel. I have also made purchases as a result of viewing pins and instagrammed product photos and hashtags. Both Pinterest and Instagram offer unique value to businesses, and one may be a better fit depending on the type of business and goals. It will be neat to see if Instagram's web profiles evolve at all this year. Thank you for reading!

  3. Interesting post Brittney! I have been using Pinterest as a Social Media marketing platform but I have yet to check out Instagram. My experience on using Pinterest so far is that niches that are women-specific sells really well. Will definitely give Instagram a try now!

  4. Brittney Dudar says:

    Thank you for reading, Ardiv. I hope you'll find that Instagram works well with your social media marketing efforts. There are a number of ways that hashtags can be used on Instagram to categorize your photo sharing to reach your target audience. Good luck, and thanks again for reading!

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