As someone who uses Instagram and Pinterest on an almost daily basis, I’m well aware of the benefits they can have on brands. I really get a kick from peeking into the “behind the scenes” photos taken by my favourite celebrities and bloggers, as well as the inspiration from the design brands who use Pinterest as a public thought process for their own ideas.

Social interaction has been given a whole new meaning – connecting with fans has become increasingly personal as brands move beyond text and links towards enticing visuals. Given how easy it is to share photos online with your friends, brands are using this approach to reach their audiences faster and to extend their number of followers. In turn, platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram prove to be useful in kicking off social media campaigns and have slowly become a part of most brands’ social media marketing strategies.

Both have very useful aspects in connecting fans new and old but that doesn’t mean the two are necessary. More isn’t always better, so you have to decide which platform is more desirable to your brand – Instagram or Pinterest?

Instagram

Inspired by vintage photography effects, the idea is to share your photos with friends in a unique and artistic way. Photos taken in the morning can have the ‘Rise’ or ‘Amaro’ filter to give them a soft glow, while ‘Lo-Fi’ and ‘Brannan’ cast a harsher dark light that might work better for nighttime photos. In any case the narrative lies in how you choose to express the image, rather than the description. Celebrities can easily take snapshots to document aspects of their life that they wish to share with their fans, allowing you to see a person beyond their red carpet worthy appearance. This very personal interaction is a positive step away from the glossy gossip magazines, allowing the celebrity to be seen as a real tangible human being, and not just an easy target for criticism.

anderson-cooper

A photo taken from Anderson Cooper’s Instagram account of him and Wolf Blitzer.

In the fashion world, brands such as Burberry use Instagram to showcase photo shoots, new products, celebrities wearing their designs and street style – making their reach very wide. Anyone from a keen amateur photographer, blogger, or even Hollywood celebrity would find something interesting in a fashion label’s Instagram account. Fashion brands can also use it to promote a lifestyle; Lululemon snaps photos of their clothes in action, usually in complicated yoga poses.

Instagram photos can also be used to generate buzz around a news report from sites such as NPR and The National Post. Food experts like Jamie Oliver and Richie Nakano have accounts to inspire you to make one of their delectable meals, as well as help you find inspiration outside of the kitchen. Expect lots of photos of their family and time spent with them outside. You won’t see an overwhelming amount of kitchen photos, as these celebrities want to give a glimpse into their life beyond their profession. Other food brands such as Starbucks use Instagram to promote new products as well as old favourites, and places their drinks in real life settings – iced tea on a patio by the beach is taken to encourage viewers to recreate the scene for themselves.

jamie-oliver

A photo taken from Jamie Oliver’s Instagram account.

Are you a budding photographer? Consider Instagram as the perfect marketing platform for your work. You can choose not to use a filter on your photos, or use one to enhance a certain aspect, enticing viewers to check out your site.

Like Twitter, you can also use hashtags in Instagram to easily search for a specific person, event, or promotion, so don’t think that all users are either individually or company based. Expect to find unique shots from events such as The Grammys and Cirque du Soleil, which give the venue and the occasion a fresh look.

Variety adds interest to your account, so don’t be monotonous and only put out one single kind of photo – really give a sense of who you and your brand are. At the same time, don’t take photos of everything. This diminishes quality and people won’t be interested in your photos. Be selective.

Pinterest

Unlike Instagram, Pinterest is not geared towards personal photos, but rather is used to build a culture around a brand. Pinterest is essentially a dream board comprised of photos curated by other Pinterest users. If you see a photo that you like, you can “pin” it and place it in one of your “boards.” These “boards” can be organized into as many categories as you’d like (e.g.: food, fashion, beauty, etc), making it very customizable in how your interests are reflected. Instagram, on the other hand, is one large page of photos with no way to organize them beyond the newest image being placed first and the others following chronologically. Not only can you organize your Pinterest page however you’d like, but the act of ‘pinning’ something allows your brand to showcase content in front of a wide audience.

kate-spade-pinterest

Designer Kate Spade has one of the most followed Instagram accounts due to its organization and aesthetic focus on color. 

There appears to be a lot of focus on design, decoration, beauty and party planning on Pinterest. Retailers would find this useful as users would find inspiration in the retailers’ pinned images, as well as some of their own products and services that they wished to advertise. Your followers will begin to fill their boards and realize that it’s time to, for example, act on re-decorating their bedroom, making them more likely to purchase from your site. Retailers might even find it useful to team up with other online sites and magazines that are known for their high quality photography and content, doubling their social media reach. Martha Stewart (the brand), Shape and The Kitchen are all sites that are visited by Pinterest users, and Martha herself has her own active Pinterest account with boards showcasing some “good things.” A lot of sites and blogs now have the ability for you to pin an article or photo directly to one of your Boards, without having to go through the added trouble of creating a pin from scratch.

pin-description

Example of a pin description on Pinterest.

Though the comments are not as relevant as the photo, a pin’s description has a maximum of 500 characters, making it easy to create a comment that can lead back to a brand’s site, a full recipe write out, product description, etc. Most interestingly, Pinterest can also be used as a focus group. By following your fans you can “listen” to what they’re saying through their Pins and Boards.

As tempting as it is to only post your own content and services, branch out and show your audience what inspires YOU. Additionally, if Pinterest does catch on that you’re using it as a platform to solely toot your brand’s horn, you risk getting removed.

martha-stewart-chow-chow

Martha Stewart’s Pinterest page features numerous boards, including one named “My Pets”. Here is a pinned photo of her chow-chow, Ghengis Khan, dining with her at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Tough life, right?

Comparing the two

While both platforms have their merits, there are some key things to take into consideration. Peer to peer connection on Instagram is stronger than on Pinterest, as the content pertains only to the user and has the flexibility to either focus on the user only, a product/service, or a combination of both. Pinterest prefers a healthy combination of the two.

Your reach on Pinterest might be a bit greater than that of Instagram with Pinterest’s ever-expanding archive of photos and fast repinning capability. Your account has the potential to reach further, especially since there’s a higher likelihood of having one of your photos crop up on a follower’s page, then their follower’s and the follower’s after that. Your reach will emulate that of a web; first touch does not matter here.

repin-on-pinterest

Repinning on Pinterest heightens a user’s true reach. 

Both platforms have various degrees of customization as well. Pinterest has its boards and Instagram has its filters. Instagram filters have more of a personal touch, since it becomes an expression of how you wish the photo to be perceived by your fans. The touch is more personal and takes a bit more thought and time than re-pinning photo after photo.

burberry-instagram

A behind-the-scenes look at Burberry’s S/S 2013 collection, taken from their Instagram account.

Depending on your brand intention, you’ll find at least one of these platforms useful to your brand. My favourite is when users such as local designers successfully use both Instagram and Pinterest to allow me to see into their professional life as well as their personal life. Pinterest fuels my creativity while Instagram allows me to get a more tangible feel about a person. Think about what is most important to your brand – do you want someone to understand your creative process, or just see photos of your products?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,