Google+ vs Facebook? Mixi vs Facebook? No, no, no. It’s all about Pinterest vs Instagram now!
Is Pinterest the shiniest Social Media star these days? Everyone’s heard agencies talking about Pinterest — but is it really the best better than Instagram? Or shall I even go back to the starting point and ask the question, are these two Social Media platforms competing against each other in the same arena for the same purpose?
I “personally” prefer Instagram. It’s casual and easy. My opinion on Pinterest, too niche, generally female led and requires a whole lot of commitment. But, from a branding, PR and marketing perspective, the nature of Pinterest gets amplified. And this is what we’re interested in today. But why am I talking about these networks in the first place? It’s because you don’t need to be able to speak Japanese, it’s a universal visual language. I consider visual language as a very useful tool, especially when dealing with Japanese people who are so into the appearance of things. Both networks focus on image sharing and users don’t have problems understanding messages sent from all over the world, simply because visual language is universal.
So let’s start from a quick recap on the platforms and what they are…
It’s a visual focused based website and Social Media platforms that connects people with pictures of “what they like”. In March 2012 the site served up 2.3 billion page impressions to over 4 million unique visitors a day. So that is impressive for sure. It uses the screen as a “pin-up board” and users can pin what they like and like other people’s pins and even re-pin them. It’s a website based service, so it doesn’t choose who use the service. It’s for everyone (just make sure you have a laptop or iphone). You can also share your pins via Twitter and Facebook.
Instagram is a “mainly-smartphone app” based Social Media network where users can post pictures of what they see everyday with retro filters applied. It’s solely based on imagery. Users can like other people’s pictures and comment on them. On 26th of July, shortly after they had announced that the total number of users had reached 50 million in May, it was reported that their user base exceeded 80 million. Some 40 percent of Interbrand’s 100 world’s most popular brands are active on the young service, according to a new study released today by Simply Measured. Although Instagram is a mobile app, there are other platforms and in-browser apps you can use to enjoy Instagram on your desktop. With so many platforms supporting the desktop experience, I don’t see instagram as a limited platforml.
Archive or Stream style?
Pinterest is said to be popular among brands — but how do they successfully use it? A lot of the brands misuse the platform by pinning product shots when all these photos of products are absolutely everywhere on the internet (not to mention their own website already has a list of the same images). What I think Pinterest is good at is that it archives all images and you can almost “folder” them separately. So it’s like a bespoke photo gallery. It’s really good to post pictures to define what the brand is or how it’s best used in a consistent way, because it’s a photo gallery like space and you can make sure the board itself is well-curated.
On the other hand Instagram is more of a handy stream of interests shown in imagery. What we’d like to see as a user on Instagram on a daily basis is a fun little expression from brands. The choice of filters can even shape the brand image and help tidy the photo stream. I’d think the perfect example of this is behind scene photos and live updates. I personally unfollow users if they start only posting product photos, because I don’t need to see them. I’ve seen them on magazines, Ecommerce sites and everywhere else. But I do like to know what type of brand it really is by analysing the photos they post. I want to see what’s going on behind the scenes and want to know what’s going on live. Instagram is great for event related updates.
PR or Organic experience:
If you open Pinterest and Instagram together and compare them, you can see clear differences in the type of photography. Pinterest has more “set up shots” & professional photography, whereas Instagram relies on organic style photos. On Pinterest, brands maybe pinning a lot of product shots and campaign photos and people are sharing them. But also users can grab any photos on the internet by using the “pin-it” button. It’s a great opportunity for brands to be sending out interesting photos to the world using their boards (I like how burberry does it) rather than just pinning millions of product shots. Whereas Instagram is a fantastic space to see the world of the user. Standing on the same level as the user’s eyes is a great way to familiarise themselves to the consumers and vice versa. For users it’s an amazing opportunity to get to know the “real face” of the brands that they love. They might re-confirm that they love your brand or they might just think you don’t have enough creativity if you keep posting product shots over and over. Either way, both platforms require you to alter yourself to be accepted by the fans. Storytelling is mega important in whatever you do.
Great examples you can look at for managing brands on these spaces are:
Pinterest: Burberry (They are always digital savvy!)
Instagram: Burberry, MTV
As an user, again, I don’t have enough patience and time to commit to Pinterest. But I love looking at the casual live updates on Instagram. Instagram and Twitter work together really well even though Twitter banned Instagram from using their API, which means you can’t find your twitter friends using the app. The latest version of Instagram allows you to search brands or users by keywords and hashtags really easily, so it’s ok. Also I personally believe the subtleness of Instagram works better with Japanese people even though Social shyness has been reduced since the expansion of Facebook in Japan. Yet I understand the archival fun that females love on Pinterest. Over to you to decide what works best for your brand and your team.
Hope this helps.
Kana & The JAPAN BUZZ Team