How Travelers Use Pinterest vs. Instagram and Why It Matters to Marketers

by Maree Jones

Right now, many social media channels are starting to borrow heavily from one another. Several have introduced stories, live capabilities and other features to help individuals and marketers plan content and push it to their audiences. And while at first glance it might seem like all social networks are becoming the same, the exact opposite is true.

Platforms are borrowing from one another, but they’re also consciously developing their own identities. These identities establish a difference between social channels by helping users know which features work best at various stages in the customer journey on a particular platform.

Pinterest vs. Instagram: A Visual Variation

It’s no secret that Pinterest has been distancing itself from other social networks, such as Instagram, over the past year. It has removed the “like” functionality and has actively positioned itself as a visual bookmarking site and under-the-radar search engine. Instagram, however, relies on traditional social networking features such as likes, hashtags, etc., to build its user base.

Both platforms are visual by nature, but one is more aspirational than inspirational, and that subtle difference is incredibly important for marketers to understand. On one hand, when looking at it from a travel perspective, Pinterest is more likely to be used when people are ready to search, plan and make decisions about where to travel. It is incredibly effective when it comes to driving traffic, and search capabilities can often rival behemoths like Google.

Instagram, on the other hand, is utilized when users want to elicit an emotional response from their friends or followers. The mental stimulation that comes from viewing inspirational images of an interesting location or a friend’s recent trip can be a primary driver in the travel space.

So when it’s time to plan for either platform, marketers should ask themselves what stage in the customer journey they should account for content-wise. Aspirational, or action-oriented, content that involves clicks, forms or landing pages – and that can be best utilized in planning stages – is better suited for Pinterest. Inspirational, or emotionally driven, content does well on Instagram. Once a user has had an experience with a location or organization, they are more likely to share with their friends on Instagram, rather than on Pinterest.

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