Instagram versus Pinterest: Which is Better for Professional Services Firms?

Instagram versus Pinterest: Which is Better for Professional Services Firms?

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Hello everyone. Last time we reviewed Instagram we compared it to Vine and evaluated its merits. You can read what we thought here. That was March 2014. A lot has changed with Instagram since then since then but before we summarise the changes we should explain that this time we have Instagram in a head to head with Pinterest.

Pinterest Background & Profile

Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra founded Pinterest in March 2010. When it first launched there was a feeling  that it would be great for visual industries and e-commerce. The common consensus was that if you were a photographer or an interior designer it would help you to showcase your portfolio, highlight locations and attract leads and customers. In the early years Pinterest had a reputation that it was a Social Media platform with heavy female usage. This is borne out by recent statistics indicating that 85% of its 100 million monthly active users are women. Pinterest is being used as an aspirational wishlist of perfect places and locations; it has become a place to create online mood boards around a particular theme or place.

Instagram Background & Profile

Instagram was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched 7 months after Pinterest in October 2010 as a free mobile app. The photo-sharing app  grew rapidly and had reached 100 million active by  April 2012. That was the month that it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. Since April 2012 Instagram has continued to grow its user base. The platform has introduced new advertiser friendly features making it easier for brands and companies to promotes themselves.

The two platforms do have clear differences but are worthy of comparison because they both allow users to upload photos and videos. Pinterest places emphasis on the creation of pin boards whereas Instagram encourages its users to take a reportage-style approach and reflect what they are actually doing rather than what they aspire to do. For medium sized professional services business neither Instagram or Pinterest are obvious choices for Content Marketing activity. This is exactly why there is an opportunity for a companies willing to use them.  Below I have evaluated both platforms using five significant criteria.

1. Monthly Active Users ( MAU) 

Instagram now has 400 million monthly active users which is four times the amount that Pinterest has with their monthly active users at the 100 million mark. Instagram now has over 75 million daily users. The 400 million figure is even more impressive when you consider that Instagram was launched after Pinterest and that it has also surpassed Twitter that was launched in March 2006. Twitter has 300 million monthly active users.

Verdict – Instagram. Instagram has more traction and all things being equal you will be able to reach more of your audience there.

2. Messaging 

On Pinterest, pinning and re-pinning, liking and creating new boards are all very simple functions to perform. Messaging was introduced to Pinterest in August 2014 but does not seem to have caught on.  Users receive email notification when messages have been received and is easy to send a message but this message functionality has not really caught on in the way that it is integral to other social media platforms. On Instagram communicating with someone is intuitive, you can reply publicly to one of their posts and @ mention them to ensure that they see your comment or you can send them a direct message and they will receive a notification on their home page that they have received a new message. In more technical terms, the user experience around messaging and therefore communication is better on Instagram.

Verdict – Instagram is better for communicating with your followers and others on Instagram.

3. Influencers & Building a Following

There are now many companies and individuals who have built up huge followings on Instagram because of the type of content they share and products or services they supply. Some of these companies and individuals like The Body Coach you will have heard of. Whole Foods is a great example of how a retailer should run a successful Instagram account.  There are also great examples from professional services too, Zaha Hadid Architects are here  and KPMG accountants are here.  By contrast the most influential Pinners on Pinterest are virtually anonymous and were given their huge audiences by Pinterest themselves. In a bid to increase take up in it’s early years Pinterest featured many of today’s most influential winners as ‘people to follow’ and their followings grew exponentially as a result. Bekka Palmer one of Pinterest’s top pinners went from 30,000 followers to 9 million in 6 months.

Verdict – It is easier to build a following from scratch on Instagram than it is on Pinterest.

 4. Advertising Opportunities

There may be occasions when you wish to promote your content. Instagram has opened up the platform for companies to advertise. Brands can create sponsored posts that appear in users newsfeed. It is not as clear on Pinterest how to advertise or promote your products. The top Pinners are able negotiate brand deals with companies but promoted pins are reserved as a service for Pinterest to sell to users in a similar way to how Google Adwords works. There is a lack of clarity as to how the top Pinners are allowed to monetise their pinning activities. It’s almost as if Pinterest hasn’t worked this out yet.

Verdict – Instagram is a far more business friendly platform for a Professional Services firm.

5. Geo- Tagging

When activated Geo- Tagging allows a business or individual to attach a location to a post. It gives your exact location. This is a great way for many businesses to raise their local profile and for customers and potential partners to find you. It is a also a great feature if you are have international locations or attend conferences and exhibitions. Geo-Tagging is available on Instagram but is not available on Pinterest. As an aside, if you are parents of children who use Instagram you definitely want to ensure that Geo- Tagging is switched off because the tags are publicly accessible information.

Verdict – Only Instagram offers Geo-Tagging


This comparison of Instagram versus Pinterest weighs down heavily in favour of Instagram but you must assess each platform in the context of your Content Marketing Plan which will most likely also include Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You should consider your audience, your objectives and the type of visual content will you be creating.  ‘Behind-the-scenes’ insights will work best on Instagram whereas infographics will be better placed on Pinterest, for example. Pinterest is still an effective platform for businesses and in this video I demonstrate How to Drive Traffic from Pinterest to Your Services Business Website. 


2018 Update

If you have liked this post you should read, How Should B2B Businesses Use Instagram?

Also, this one too Traffic Tips: The Power of Pinterest 



B2B Content Marketing Agency London

Marketing Fundamentals Ltd is a B2B Content Marketing Agency in London that creates Content and manages Social Media for Professional Services firms.

If you would like our help creating and executing a Content Marketing Plan for your business that includes Instagram or Pinterest give us a call on +44 (0) 845 2264 247. You can also email us via

Thanks for reading and watching!

Best regards,

Mike Pitt

Founder & CEO

Marketing Fundamentals Ltd

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This is blog post number 325.


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Founder of Marketing Fundamentals Ltd, Blogger, Author & Content Creator