With a multitude of social medias readily available for businesses to use, it is sometimes hard to tell which will benefit your company the most, if at all. Photography sharing websites such as Instagram and Pinterest have sparked up an innovative way for businesses to reach their customers by promoting products through photo distribution. But do these help your business bring in new sales?


Instagram is one of the fastest growing social medias to date. Launched in October 2010 on Apple devices, the app reached a staggering one million downloads by December 2012, whereas, somewhat surprisingly, it took Twitter two years to reach the same number. When eventually it was decided to release the app for Android devices, there were a phenomenal 430,000 pre-registrations and when made public on the 3rd April 2013, it was downloaded over one million times. Currently, there are approximately 75 million daily users of Instagram and there are no signs of this slowing down with an estimation of 106.2 million users by 2018, but can this application help your business’ online marketing strategy?

Instagram’s demographic is predominantly the younger generation, with 73% of Instagram users aged between 15 and 35 years old and 64% of users being women. This immediately narrows Instagram’s suitability for businesses with an older target audience.

There are many social marketing strategies used daily on Instagram: timing of posts, language used and, most importantly, the use of hash tagging, all coming into play to increase the chance of winning a customer’s business. Hash tags are one of the most commonly used social media marketing tools applied across many of the large social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Hash tags tend to consist of a brand or product name, relatable quote or event. By introducing a tag name for events, users are able to upload and share their experiences from an occasion, or even better, get involvement from those who were unable to attend and allow them to feel engaged anyway. This is one of the main marketing techniques apps such as Instagram employ; with one click you are automatically involved in a large marketing campaign without even noticing.

An example of a successful use of this type of engagement was Sony’s ‘#SonyLove’ competition. Everyday for a fortnight there was an opportunity to win a $50 Sony gift card by simply following the company’s Instagram page and uploading a photo of something that represented love to the member of the public with the hash tag ‘SonyLove’ incorporated into the caption. By using such a simple method of entry to the competition, Sony were inundated with images to review, judging them upon appropriateness to theme, uniqueness and creativity. They gained many additional followers to their page through the campaign and it was undoubtedly a great success.

Recently, Instagram has extended its functionality by adding a video capture tool. Within the first 24 hours of this function being released it was reported that over 5 million videos were recorded and uploaded to Instagram. This proves how Instagram users are keen to keep up to date with the latest technology released by the application and their willingness and devotion to continue to upload content.

As of 2012 Instagram also decided to expand their presence onto the web due to such high demand from its users. Although a simplified version of the app, it became clear to the Instagram team the importance of being multi platform friendly, with competition, including Pinterest, being readily available across all platforms, from mobile through to desktop.

Instagram continues to develop their technical and marketing strategies in order to enhance their marketing abilities. More recently Instagram has begun incorporating sponsored advertisements to user feeds based upon: people users follow, posts they like, interests they share on Facebook, websites users visit and your information you have entered into the app.

Since our previous blog regarding Pinterest, it has gained the label of one of the ‘fastest growing websites’ of the past year, growing by 57% and ultimately gaining users at a faster pace than well established social medias such as Facebook. Founded in 2010, Pinterest now entertains more than 72 million users worldwide. The idea behind the website was taken from a pin board/scrap booking concept, with Pinterest CEO Ben Silermann referring to the company as a “catalog of ideas” as opposed to a social network.

Pinterest is a widely used application for businesses, grabbing nearly 41% of ecommerce traffic compared to other social media sites. One case study illustrated a prime example of Pinterest in the ecommerce field when a fashion company found users who visited their online store on Pinterest typically spending around $180 on products compared with Facebook users who spent an average of $85. Many of these customers admitted their preference to browse from the company’s Pinterest page instead of the actual website, proving the power of a solid user interface.

This could perhaps be attributed to the latest marketing features introduced within the past few years. A great tool that accompanies the Pinterest package is Pinterest Analytics. To ensure businesses gain the highest success rate possible from potential customers, you can discover how much traffic your Pinterest has coming in from each pin post, common interests amongst your audience and other businesses they follow and the audience the business is branching out to the most. This gives companies powerful insight to the types of post that are popular and have the most traffic which in turn informs them as to the different routes they can take in order to maximise customer potential.

In 2014 Pintrest decided to discard a news feed that simply listed posts in chronological order instead opting to list pins in order of their relevance and popularity, thanks to the introduction of new complex algorithms and filters. However, this could also have a negative impact for some as it no longer matters on the amount of followers an account may have, it now all comes down to the popularity of a specific post. The less popular the post has the less likely it is to be seen. But what makes a good pin?

Valuable content and high quality images are essential to a successful post with a strong pin description. SEO techniques can have a vast impact on a pin’s popularity, such as having a relevant file name for images so the Pinterest algorithm can read these and apply them in a search.

Further technologies have recently been implemented to enhance user experience and ensure the simplest methods of purchase are available to customers, maximising potential sales. The recently released ‘buy it’ button, currently only available within the U.S, is one of the ways the company continues to expand their ecommerce strategy, making user experience as enjoyable as possible. ‘Rich pins’ are the latest addition to the Pinterest’s long list of advanced technologies, allowing user’s to see further information about a product that may not be so readily available to them on a normal pin. By enabling the ability to purchase products directly and select specific types of goods (e.g. colour) from Pinterest’s own website, users have greater access to information without having to leave Pinterest’s own website.

It is clear that with so many rapid advancements and new technologies continuously being introduced, Pinterest has no plan to take a back seat any time soon but intends to maintain its reputation as one of the world’s most successful visual social media stories.

So can these benefit my business?
So this brings up to the question: can these social media platforms be a beneficial marketing tool for your company?
With both, I believe the answer is yes – but only if you have the correct target audience. With the key demographic of both companies being mainly women aged between 20-35, it may be that specific industries will benefit more than others by creating an Instagram or Pinterest account.

Industries such as fashion, health and beauty, which are popular amongst this demographic are obvious examples but insurance companies targeting this particular audience may also find more success using visual social media. Businesses such as Sheila’s wheels and Drive like a girl, although available for anyone, are intended for a similar young and female target audience. With their ideal demographic all congregated in one place, these companies could be missing out on an immensely valuable social media tool, preventing them having direct and exclusive contact with potential customers.
Everyday I am tempted into entering competitions, tagging friends in posts with enticing products and applying promo codes taken from posts’ captions in order to grab that all important bargain or win that new Mini Cooper. It is clear that using various marketing techniques, as discussed in this blog, there are many ways to create a successful marketing campaign for businesses through visual social media. With the rapid advancements being made and its popularity ever rising, companies may jump on board the idea of gaining an Instagram or Pinterest account, joining brands such as Nike and Sony to reach out to their customer’s through visual advertising.

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