Pinterest and Instagram are the two social networks based primarily on the sharing of visual content, each of the networks having its own distinctive features. So where should visual content now be published? Find out what out what both ourselves and experts in publishing and sharing visual content have to say in response.
After asking the question "Should you publish your videos on Facebook or YouTube? ", we are today taking a look at visuals. There are a number of social networks where you can publish these, with the best known dedicated to this type of content being Pinterest and Instagram. These services have a large number of users: Pinterest has 70 million members, Instagram 300 million. The former experienced a considerable increase in visitors in 2014. In the case of the latter the increase was a little less impressive.
Why are visuals today so important? Brands use visuals to create an emotional bond with consumers and let them know about their activities. It is essential to be aware that web users are swamped with advertising messages, with more than 5000 per day to deal with according to some sources. The challenge therefore lies in knowing how to stand out from the crowd where visual content is concerned.
Communications experts talk in terms of "Picture Marketing". Visual content, by comparison to text, links and videos, usually generates more "engagement" amongst the members of a community.
"Picture Marketing" serves several purposes for brands:
Generate maximum engagement (likes, shares, comments, etc.);
Facilitate content viralization (short term);
Favorize fan recruitment (long term).
It should be noted that there are other social networks also used by brands to communicate visual content: Tumblr and Facebook for example. With the latter, the amount of reach generated by visuals is on the decline, as well as being lower than that generated by videos, links and text (source: SocialBakers study). Armed with this information, brands have every reason to use other social networks to share their visual content.
What are the main advantages Pinterest and Instagram offer for brands?
To summarize each in a single phrase:
Pinterest: a service for sharing hobbies, interests, things users are passionate about through the use of imagery found on the internet.
Instagram: a Facebook owned service for creating and sharing geolocated images in real time, mainly via mobile devices.
Pinterest: mainly women aged between 25 and 34 years old.
Instagram: younger, likely to be between 15 and 30 years old, and with the genders equally represented.
Areas of interest users deal with:
Pinterest: fashion, decorating, creative leisure activities.
Instagram: sport, daily life.
Common to both: food, travel.
Purposes served for brands:
Pinterest: brands reach new targets and generate traffic for their e-commerce website, with selling the ultimate aim.
Instagram: brands can tell their stories, communicate and share emotions with their users.
Types of content normally shared by brands:
Pinterest: brands present their products and communicate on particular themes or about their values, or offer hints and tips.
Instagram: brands provide creative content and also photos of things happening in the life of the company and important events.
Specific marketing activities undertaken by brands:
Pinterest: collaborative trend boards.
Instagram: photographic competitions.
What users have to say?
Isabelle Spanu, pro Instagram
"It depends what you're trying to achieve. I've used Pinterest a lot in the past, but at the moment I'm finding Instagram better suits my pace and my blogging activity, #socialreporter. It's a social network that lets me share images of things I like, events I've participated in, and create teasers for upcoming articles on my blog, MonParisJoli.
I post three carefully chosen images that will each provide different, complementary information about a particular subject on the fly. Why three? Because when you use Instagram on your mobile, which is how you most often use it, the images are arranged in rows of three. It therefore makes the gallery better organized. For a brand, it's important to think in terms of telling a story with strong emotional content and highlighting the best user photos. Ideally, clear artistic standards should be adopted. Each photo needs to be of a high quality in order to inspire and generate likes and/or shares. This is essential. The image should also be clear, well framed and be a wide shot or focus on a detail. Bright and/or sharpen it a little if necessary. It is better to spread your posts throughout the day. To generate interaction, consider adding a legend or posing a question, and add three or four relevant hashtags when you post your photo. Also consider using geolocation and specifying one or more official Instagram accounts to link to the photo. "
Eric Delcroix, pro Pinterest
"Is there a particular, preferred place for publishing visual content? Personally, I have identified two different professional scenarios: undertaking the content curation process and publishing a technology watch, and outside these processes. However, I defined my strategy for each situation a long time ago. Let me explain it to you ;-)
Let's say I'm undertaking the curation process. For each item of information, I have to ask myself where to put the visual content! Because I consider Instagram to be a "Twitter" for images, it rarely gets used: I prefer Pinterest interest instead, with its boards that allow you to organize information. Same thing when it comes to infographics.
Outside the curation process, images, in particular the photos I take, naturally end up on Instagram. These are one-off photos, those taken spontaneously when reacting emotionally to something, illustrative photos and those posted live to Instagram, like live tweeting. It is also possible to share images on Twitter. Similarly, applications such as pictacular.co let you later share to Pinterest if you need to. The only problem is when I have a series of images to produce. Where this is the case I tend to collect them together on a Pinterest board to form a whole unit. In truth, the way I use these things and the strategy I adopt are actually a bit more complicated. Basically, in addition to Pinterest and Instagram I also use Tumblr and Facebook albums, depending on what I'm doing."
Céline Crespin, pro Instagram
"Some social networks are very similar, often defining themselves in the same terms. After the blog and video hosts and the tools enabling sharing with friends, it's now the turn of the image services to battle it out. Where these are concerned, Instagram and Pinterest are the first to get my vote! Of course, it all depends how you use them (on a regular basis or not, and whether it's for professional or private purposes), your needs (viewing vs contributing) and your content (HD photos, in a particular format, or as an amateur, on the fly). However, here are five reasons for choosing Instagram:
No need to sign up in order to view images/photos contributed by others
The image filtering and retouching options make it easy and fun to make your own alterations
Linking to Twitter usernames is very useful (despite some problems at times)
The 15-second video feature, though still in its infancy, looks very promising
If you are already a Facebook or Twitter user, it is very easy to quickly master Instagram.
There are two main problems that still need to be resolved to make Instagram perfect (a Regram button to let you share someone else's image to you own account and cite that person, and streamlining of the Facebook account sharing facility), but I live in hope!"
Aurélie Duclos, pro Pinterest
"Personally speaking, I use Pinterest in the main, Instagram not so much. The purposes of the two networks are essentially quite different: Pinterest is mainly useful for "bookmarking images" (so much more visual than a list of URLs whose contents you aren't really sure about), whereas Instagram lets you see what's happening with its communities, though it duplicates what Facebook does in this respect to an extent, so much so that links between the two networks are frequent.
In more general terms, I regard Pinterest as a tool for collecting, storing and organizing images, as a kind of "mood board" in fact, like those created by graphic designers; whereas Instagram is more "real time", providing a constant feed of photos. The former is more for images/infographics/photos that you would like to keep and retrieve later, and the latter is more for rapidly sharing anecdotes; an interesting, surprising detail; or something that catches your attention, and has a more social, instantaneous quality to it. For the kind of aesthetically pleasing images that you want to see circulate for a long time and pass into posterity, Pinterest seems perfect to me; whereas Instagram is the ideal platform for sharing personal photos of a more offbeat kind, targeting the casual, lifestyle type user more than those looking to carefully store and organize things."
Carly Webber, pro both
"So, should you publish your visuals on Pinterest or Instagram? As you've no doubt come to realize from what's been said here, there is no obvious answer. Some, for a range of reasons, have a preference for one over the other. The important thing is to find the right network for your aims. Or you can even publish on both, adopting different but complementary working strategies. Where sharing of visual content is concerned, consumption and virality are still, today, undergoing a process of constant evolution!"
Now it's time for you to have your say! What's your opinion? Who were you convinced by? Which social network are you going to use for publishing your visuals? Pinterest or Instagram? Or both?