Instagram vs. Pinterest: Where Should Retailers and e-Commerce Brands Invest

Poonam Mathur Instagram, Pinterest 2 Comments

Instagram vs. Pinterest: Where Should Retailers and e-Commerce Brands Invest | 1226 Digital

Do I invest time and resources in Instagram or Pinterest, both or neither?

This question comes up frequently and the struggle is real for retailers and e-commerce companies striving to hit growth and revenue goals, and wisely place bets in new channels.

Both platforms are experiencing explosive user growth, and with advertising offerings coming to market for both in 2015 there’s a case to be made for each channel.

First, Let’s Look at Why Users Go to Pinterest and Instagram

Instagram and Pinterest are both about photos and visuals, but that’s where the similarities end.

Pinterest is a visual discovery tool aka search engine. Users go to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration – whether it’s a summer barbecue, their dream wedding, or back-to-school outfits for their kids. Users curate content and can easily plan and source inspiration for different parts of their lives. Marketers like to term Pinterest users as intent driven consumers. They’re actively searching for ideas on purchases they intend to make at some point in the future.

Instagram is a mobile-only app for iPhone and Android that lets users share photos or videos. With a variety of filter options, photo tools, and easy to use interface, Instagram gives anyone the power to channel their inner photographer and share their gorgeous creations with the world.

Long story short, Pinterest users are searching for something specific, while Instagram users aren’t looking for anything in particular.

Next, Let’s Look at the Demographics of Pinterest and Instagram

Now that we know why consumers are using Pinterest and Instagram, let’s take a look at who is using Pinterest and Instagram.

The common narrative for each network is that Pinterest is for women and Instagram skews young and millennial. What you might find eye-opening is that the demographic difference is not as dramatic as you’d think. Especially for brands and retailers looking to acquire new customers in the U.S. market.

The information below shows the United States audience for both Pinterest and Instagram.

  • Total estimated United States users: 47MM Pinterest vs. 77MM Instagram
  • % of Online Adult Women (U.S.): 42% Pinterest vs. 29% Instagram
  • % of Online Adult Men (U.S.): 13% Pinterest vs. 22% Instagram
  • % of Online Adults 18-29 (U.S.): 34% Pinterest vs. 53% Instagram
What Consumers Want from Retailers and Brands on Pinterest and Instagram

The factors that motivate a user to engage with or follow a brand is different for Instagram and Pinterest.

Users who follow a brand on Pinterest want to share their interests with others. They find the content a brand is sharing relevant to their personal interests and aspirations. Brands who share visual demonstrations of their products, tips, and how-to’s are more likely to find success.





Instagram users are willing to follow a brand that enhances their sense of self or inspires their personal tastes. Users with a love of travel might follow National Geographic, while users into fitness might follow Nike. These brands visually motivate and emotionally connect with their fans.

This Instagram post from Nike is a great example of these concepts in action.

A sunset is not a stop sign. @nikesverige A photo posted by nike (@nike) on

The thing to remember is that Pinterest is essentially a search engine. Consumers are able to find specific products and ideas with particular appeal. Instagram, without the same filtering and search features, needs to have a more generalized message to appeal to your followers overall.

So Which One Do You Pick: Pinterest or Instagram

With a better understanding of what each network can offer your brand, the decision on which to pick depends on your business goals.

If website visits and purchases are high priority, Pinterest is the way to go. Pinterest gives users a clear pathway to your website and there are a number of tools to help you track conversions and other bottom of the funnel metrics.

If brand awareness, brand sentiment, and audience development are your priority, Instagram is your best bet. Instagram is mobile only and you can’t include clickable links, so conversions will be a challenge. Measuring top of the funnel metrics is where to focus your efforts.

After you’ve prioritized your business goals, take your target audience, resource capacity, and resource capabilities (does your team have strengths in content curation/Pinterest or creation/Instagram ) into consideration.

Both networks may make sense for you, however time and money may leave you having to choose one over the other.

If you’re struggling to get started or show progress on Pinterest or Instagram, feel free to contact us.