The two hot social media platforms du jour, Pinterest and Instagram, have a lot in common. They're both visual media outlets devoted to still pictures in particular. They both have huge reach. They both offer marketers a limited toolset, with no support for ads or advanced metrics. And yet marketers are finding them useful anyway.
Instagram, with 30 million users, was recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. And Pinterest is catching on fast, with 18.7 million unique visitors in March, up from 418,000 in the previous 10 months.
According to Tanzina Vega of the New York Times, Pinterest has drawn the attention of marketers at magazines, including Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens, along with brands such as Whole Foods and West Elm.
Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook's image-intensive Timeline are examples of "the rise of the visual Web," Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis for comScore, told the Times. (I'd add Google+, which has great image-sharing capabilities, to that list. And even Twitter is part of the trend. The service is text-focused but over time has added inline image display to its Web interface and official clients.) Lipsman said the most visually appealing content wins on these social media, and brands are still figuring things out.
Better Homes and Gardens editor in chief Gayle Butler told the Times that Pinterest is ideal for brands like hers that are visually driven. Kaelin Zawilinski, the magazine's digital editorial manager, said Pinterest has helped it gain a new audience, especially with younger women.
Better Homes and Gardens has 73 pin boards, including "Lovely Laundry Rooms," "Smart Storage Solutions," and "We Love Baking." It has 47,854 people following all boards and about 350,000 following individual boards, and material was re-pinned on other boards 448,022 times in January.
Brides magazine, with 58 boards on topics including hairstyles, fashion dresses, bouquets, and wedding cake, views Pinterest as a way to use its images to drive traffic back to the site. Many of the photos on the magazine's board for Bridal Fashion Week were taken with a cellphone and posted to Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
The Times rounds up how other brands are using Pinterest. The article, "Marketers Find a Friend in Pinterest," is worth reading. And don't miss our take on that subject.
PepsiCo digital head Josh Karpf told ClickZ that Instagram provides his company an opportunity "to humanize the brand and take people behind the curtains." It uses the service to post candid, behind-the-scenes photos. "For brands, it's a lightweight way to connect with consumers."
Red Bull joined Instagram in January 2011 and has picked up 176,000 followers. Kevin Doohan, Red Bull's director of digital marketing, told ClickZ that brands should focus on content, as they do on other social networks.
Mike Tittel, executive director of the ad agency Gyro, told ClickZ that brands should exploit new, hot social media like Pinterest and Instagram but bear in mind that fashions change. "There could be another hot one next year -- probably will be."
What do you think? Do Pinterest and Instagram have marketing staying power, or are they this year's Second Life? Let us know.
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site