Forget Facebook? Why Marketers Are Embracing Pinterest and Instagram

Opinion: Both platforms are interest-based

Pinterest and Instagram provide a better frame of mind for shopping alexsl/iStock

Facebook’s News Feed is a lot of things, but these days, it’s rarely inspirational.

With 2.13 billion monthly users, Facebook has more reach than any other social network, but it’s not the best option for consumers to get ideas and enjoy visually pleasing experiences. In recent years, Pinterest and Instagram have filled that void.

The visual nature of Pinterest and Instagram puts more focus on imagery and style. They’re a welcome alternative to Facebook’s status updates, political rants and personal milestones. The two networks are where consumers turn to find visual inspiration, whether it’s in food, fashion or home design.

Marketers are also finding Pinterest and Instagram to be upbeat, fun and conducive to advertising messages.

In fact, Pinterest was on track to post $500 million in revenues in 2017, up 67 percent from 2016. Facebook doesn’t disclose Instagram’s revenues, but it did announce that the photo- and video-sharing network had doubled its total number of advertisers in six months, surpassing 1 million last March.

Providing a source of visual inspiration is just one reason why Pinterest and Instagram are effective places to advertise. Here are three more:

  • Both platforms are interest-based: Many users stumble upon Pinterest because they’re doing a Google search around a hobby and Google serves them links to Pinterest content. When searching “Japanese woodworking,” for example, this Pinterest link featuring photos of such work shows up on the front page. Often, users are looking for inspiration rather than text—Pinterest’s visual format fits that need. Advertisers are catching on. There’s been a shift in the past few months as marketers request to reallocate money from Google and Bing to Pinterest searches. In addition, Instagram has built a strong following because the platform makes it easy for users to follow their interests. Those can range from fashion to cooking to fitness, among many others. Plus, users on Instagram are motivated to post items that are going to connect with those who have shared interests.
  • Pinterest and Instagram provide a better frame of mind for shopping: People don’t naturally visit Facebook to go shopping. Facebook’s efforts to bring e-commerce to the platform have been disappointing, although its Marketplace feature may be bearing some fruit. Why has Facebook had such trouble launching commerce on its platform? Facebook is a hangout place—a forum for people to connect and socialize—not a place where people go to get things done. As one analyst noted, selling stuff on Facebook is like doing a sales pitch during a party while people are trying to have fun (or argue about politics). In contrast, Pinterest and Instagram users are often in the “shopping mindset.” Shopping on Pinterest and Instagram is also very user-friendly, since both offer one-click purchases.
  • Their content is evergreen: A Facebook post has a short shelf life, getting most of its reach in the first half-hour. This means that tracking down a Facebook post often isn’t worth the trouble. Although Instagram is oriented this way too, scrolling through a user’s or brand’s feed is easy and rewarding. Doing the same on Facebook means encountering a lot of random updates. Pinterest, meanwhile, includes a lot of evergreen content, which makes sense. If you’re into home design, you don’t necessarily want to see the latest post. Instead, you want to see the one that serves your particular interest or gets the most engagement. This again ties in with an advertiser’s goal to get in front of users who are serious about what they’re searching for.

If you’re looking to reach consumers who are following their passions, looking for ideas and are more open to your marketing message, consider loading up on Instagram and Pinterest.

Katie Townsley is vice president and executive director of social at digital agency MXM.