Is Pinterest social media? Can I just use Instagram instead? What does Pinterest offer that other social media sites don’t?

This is a question I’ve received a lot recently. I’ve had people ask me to talk about this so that they can share it with their business friends who don’t use Pinterest because they view it as another social media platform.

Spoiler alert: it’s not! 

If you’re totally new to Pinterest, we have an email newsletter series that will help you get up and running super fast. From getting your account set up to creating your first Pinterest boards, this series will walk you through the foundation for Pinterest, step-by-step.

Once you’ve got your Pinterest foundation solid, make sure you download the Simple Pin Pinterest Planner. 20+ pages of monthly trends, stat tracking, checklists, and much more. It will keep you moving forward throughout the year.

laptop displaying pinterest on a stool. Text overlay "is Pinterest social media?".

Is Pinterest Social Media? If Not, What Is It? 

I know that a lot of you are brand new to Pinterest and don’t really know what exactly it is. Or maybe you have only been using it personally and don’t know how to use it for your business.

Pinterest is different from other social media platforms and that benefits you as a marketer.

So what is Pinterest? 

According to Wikipedia…

Pinterest, Inc. is an American social media web and mobile application company. It operates a software system designed to enable saving and discovery of information on the Internet using images and, on a smaller scale, GIFs, and videos.

On the Pinterest website, Pinterest is described as a visual discovery engine for finding ideas, like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more.

Pinterest is a visual version of Google. You can use Google Images, but it’s not the first option that pops up.

Pinterest users are drawn to the platform because of the images. They can search for an idea, product, or dream and see it right away.

What Makes Pinterest Different? 

In order to understand the difference between Pinterest and other social media platforms, we need to also understand what those other social media platforms are used for.

The Instagram Platform

Instagram is a platform that allows you to follow people or brands, whether you know them personally or not.

It gives us an inside look at people’s lives through posts on our feed. If we don’t follow someone specific, we won’t see that person’s posts in our feed. Most of the feed content is time-based (i.e., showing up in the feed very close to when it was originally posted).

In addition to the Instagram feed, the platform also features Instagram Stories, where you can view 15-second “commercials” from the people and brands you follow.

Instagram is definitely social – the whole point is to interact with the people you follow. You can buy things through the ads, but the main goal of Instagram is to keep people on the platform by entertaining them via the content.

The Facebook Platform

Facebook allows you to have a business page. You can post updates about your business, share links, and share yours, or other people’s, content.

People don’t often see business pages in their feed since you have to “pay to play” for the most part.

Facebook groups are more community-based. You can create a group that’s focused exclusively on any type of content. These Facebook groups are very social. The whole point is to join and interact in the forum.

And of course, there is the regular, non-business use of Facebook. This is a mix of groups, ads, business pages, and posts from your friends. Lots of people left Facebook because they felt like it was just too much of a cesspool.

This is why I’ve installed the “kill news feed” feature on my Facebook profile. This chrome extension keeps you from being sucked into the vortex of a million posts and comments.

While people flock to Facebook and Instagram for interaction (whether through comments, likes, or direct messages), that is not why people use Pinterest.

The User’s Goal On Pinterest

Let me give you a real-life example of how pinners use Pinterest.

I want to put a pathway through the grass in my backyard that leads to my shed. It’s been driving me nuts in the wintertime when it’s wet that I have to walk through the grass and end up bringing mud into my She Shed (where I record my podcast and do most of my work). I like to keep things clean and tidy.

I’m frustrated with my problem so I go directly to Pinterest. I need to find out how to make a pathway with stones across my lawn. I search “stone walkway,” “stone pathway,” and “stone pathway in the grass,” and save several pins to my garden board. When I feel like I’ve found the one I want, I click on the pin and go to the website for the tutorial.

My goal with Pinterest is to find what I want, (search and discovery) and then click off of the platform to get to what I need. I want the directions or the product to complete my project. If the pin goes nowhere, (because it’s a dead link) it doesn’t allow me to accomplish my project and I have to start at the beginning.

laptop on a stool displaying pinterest.

Serving the Pinterest User 

This is the main difference between Pinterest and social media platforms.

Pinterest, Google, and Youtube are the top three tools that people use to search and discover. The intent of the person using the platform is to find a solution to a problem.

This is what makes Pinterest such a powerful tool as a marketer. It is a way to get traffic to your site, as long as you have the right mindset.

You have to know who you are talking to and what you are talking to them about. You’re marketing your products, services, and content on the platform so that you can solve the user’s problem.

The user isn’t looking for connection or engagement. They aren’t interested in your influencer status. They just want their problem to be solved. They are looking to dream, plan, and eventually create or buy.

This is why you have to ask yourself:

How can I, and my business, solve the Pinterest user’s problem? What solution can I offer them? 

Ultimately, Pinterest is all about the user. It’s not about you. If you’re constantly focused on their problems and solving them, your content will fit on Pinterest.

If you’ve only been investing in Instagram or Facebook, it’s time to move to Pinterest. Be very clear about your plan. The Start newsletter series and the Simple Pin Pinterest Planner are both great tools to help you create a plan to serve the Pinterest user.

For Further Listening/Reading:


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