Instagram and Pinterest are two of the most popular social media platforms right now – and are often lumped into the same category of “visual social networks” because they focus on the promotion of images more than others.
While there is some similarity between Instagram and Pinterest (you need to post a picture, or a video to use either of them – text on its own isn’t enough) they are actually quite different in terms of how people and businesses use them, and their short and longer term benefits.
Instagram is great for “real time” awareness (although some recent changes to the algorithm means your Instagram Home feed isn’t quite as chronological as it used to be) – allowing you to post images that your followers see in their feed, or find them through a search (usually a #hashtag search).
You can also caption your images, and add a location which again allows people to find your content by ‘place’, and of course you can apply some cool filters and effects to your image or video before posting it.
On Instagram, images have a fairly short shelf life. If your followers don’t see it within a short timeframe, it’s unlikely they’ll ever see them (this isn’t 100% true, but it’s usually the case). For that reason, Instagram is often used like you might use Twitter – for things that are important now!
Pinterest is a little different. Firstly unlike Instagram you can post images from anywhere – not just your own (typically from your mobile phone). This means you can curate whole ‘boards’ (albums) of images made up of a variety of images from across the internet – consider them “mood boards” or “albums with a central theme” . Unlike Instagram, you can update Pinterest from a web browser – not just a mobile app, so it’s often a little easier to do from the office, or for multiple members of staff to contribute to one account. It’s also much easier for a Pinterest user to re-pin (save to their own board) one of your images, compared to how difficult it is for Instagram users to share something they like.
The main difference in my opinion is the potential shelf life on Pinterest. Unlike Instagram, images you Pin, are likely to work harder for you for longer. People are likely to discover them ‘later’ compared to Instagram, and one of the simple reasons for this is that Google still appears to have a good positive relationship with Pinterest. Images you post there (so long as you give them good SEO ‘keyword optimised’ descriptions) tend to get returned well in Google search engine results, meaning one good image pinned on Pinterest, could drive considerable traffic to your website – assuming of course you’ve made sure to include a “Website link” which the image will link back to when clicked.
If we consider Instagram to be like “twitter” (short, real time updates about “now”), then you could maybe compare Pinterest to “Google+” (often no real obvious immediate benefit, but content which will hang around forever, and help drive Google traffic to your website).
So to answer the question – “which is best – Instagram or Pinterest” – it’s impossible to answer. Both are great tools for slightly different reasons, and if you’re looking to make a decision about which one to use, consider the various benefits each one will give, but more importantly, consider which one is used by your target audience.