Should we be on [insert name of new or hot social network here]?
This is easily the most common question our digital strategy clients pose to us. Unfortunately, the answer is always the same — it depends.
In the case of popular photo sites Instagram versus Pinterest, the data is pretty clear around which social network is right for certain brands based on the brands’ target audience.
How Do You Know If You Need To Be On a New Social Network?
That’s a great question. But before we walk through a quick data analysis comparing Instagram and Pinterest user bases, let’s first look at three reasons you definitely should NOT use as a basis for entering a social network:
- Everyone else is doing it.
- I’m seeing it all over the news, in magazines, and online – everyone is talking about how New Social Network is going to be the next Facebook.
and my personal favorite …..
- Our competitors are on it.
Let’s take the last one first. Unless your competitor has shown a long history of ALWAYS being right about new technology, consumer adoption of that technology and has lots of case studies showing how they turned early mover advantage into sales, revenue and market share advantage, then it’s safe to say following the herd ISN’T a valid reason to enter any social network.
Remember, these networks are free to use (well technically Facebook still falls into that category…. for now) but they do take an enormous amount of time to do well and see results. This is especially true of Instagram and Pinterest which require the capture or curation of lots of photographic content.
The quickest way to lose credibility and possibly employment is to make key marketing decisions because others are doing it. And frankly, it should be grounds for immediate termination because it’s just plain lazy and there is no room for lazy marketing in today’s fast-paced, digitally centric world.
Follow The Marketing Data
So if we’re not going to do it because others are doing it, how then should we make the decision whether or not to invest resources in a new social network?
To quote my friend Tom Webster,
Do the Work.
I’m not suggesting that you need to have an advanced degree in statistics or spend countless hours building Excel Spreadsheets from hell. Just spend a few minutes looking at readily available data or maybe even invest in purchasing a bit of reasonably priced data. For instance, you may want to investigate and purchase a copy of The Social Habit, which is where I found the following two slides comparing Instagram users with Pinterest users. (disclosure: Tom was nice enough to send me these slides gratis.)
Let’s start with Pinterest Demographics. From the slide below, we can quickly find three key pieces of audience data about Pinterest Users.
- Pinterest is clearly a female dominated platform (in the USA) with 70% of Pinterest users reported as female
- Pinterst’s core age demographic is 18-34 (56% of users) which mirrors Instagram’s though slightly smaller
- Pinterest tilts older with 30% of Pinterest Users falling into the 35-54 demographic and 6% of Pinterest users are 55+ vs only 8% of Pinterest Users falling into the 12-17% age demographic
Now let’s look at Instagram Demographics. From the slide below, we can quickly compare the same three key pieces of audience data about Instagram Users.
- Instagram is far more balanced with males representing 45% of Instagram users
- Instagram’s core age demographic is 18-34 (67% of users) which mirrors Pinterest’s though slightly larger in size
- Instagram’s audience tilts younger with 20% of Instagram Users falling into the 12-17 demographic and 0% of users falling in the 55+ category
- Instagram also shows a significantly smaller audience in the 35-54 demographic, with only 13% of its audience falling into that demographic
Should My Company Be on Instagram or Pinterest?
As I noted above, the answer to that question is up to you and your audience demographics. For discussion purposes though, let’s assume you work for a CVB or a DMO (Convention & Visitors Bureau/Destination Marketing Organization) as my firm does a good bit of work in the destination marketing space, I feel comfortable breaking this down from that angle.
Travel research for years has shown that females (at least in couple or family travel) tend to be the planners. The males are usually the economic buyer, that’s fancy sales talk for “the person who gives the final yes to spend the money.”
Further, according to data from The U.S. Travel Association, demographically travel breaks down like this:
|Demo||% Leisure Travel||% Biz Travel|
Based on this data, wouldn’t it seem that the GenX and Baby Boomer market represent a much better travel target audience?
So then, if you were a CVB or DMO Marketing Director, and you had the Instagram and Pinterest Audience Demographic Data above, which platform would you recommend if you had to pick just one platform?
The data suggests that Pinterest users are more likely to be females between the ages of 35-54 (GenX and Late Boomers). Further, the data suggests that the Older Boomer (55+) crowd isn’t on Instagram at all. Given the propensity for travel within this GenX and Boomer Target Audience, one could clearly make an argument for an ongoing CVB Pinterest effort.
In fact, according to data compiled by my pal Anne Hornyak, a whopping 254 USA CVBs (as of June 2012) are actively using Pinterest. That’s a pretty good indication that the vast majority of CVB Marketing Directors would agree with your recommendation.
Another argument in favor of Pinterest is that Pinterest’s private boards can be used to create an incredibly insightful and inexpensive consumer research process.
But What About Instagram?
A quick Google Search of CVB’s on Instagram quickly reveals that a ton of CVB’s are investing, some of them quite extensively, in the Instagram platform. They’re not just taking and uploading their own pictures, they’re investing in Instagram Contests and giving away real prizes, spending significant amounts of time, and in general, making a pretty serious investment in a platform that skews GenY and is heavily populated by non-traveling teens and tweens.
As noted above, the data seems to suggest Instagram isn’t the best use of a CVB’s Marketing efforts and time. So then why are so many CVBs and DMOs making these significant investments in Instagram Marketing?
Care to toss in your two cents? How would the analysis turn out if you did it for your company?
photo credit: Jason A. Howie