We chatted about:
- The biggest differences between Instagram and Pinterest from an online retailers perspective
- The top tips for online retailers to use both platforms
- How to use them without it looking like nothing but advertising
- What mistakes retailers often make when using either of the platforms
- Allie’s insights on how to make a better decision when deciding to use Pinterest or Instagram
Here are some other podcast episodes that talk about social and your online store:
Thanks to Our Podcast Sponsor: Bluehost
You can also download a pdf of the full transcript here: WordPress eCommerce Show Episode 97 August 9 2017
Bob Dunn: Hey, Allie. Welcome to the show.
Allie Barke: Hi, Bob. Thanks for having me.
Bob: Okay, now before we get started into the questions, I want you to tell our audience a little bit about yourself.
Meet Allie Barke, Fashion Blogger and Digital Strategist
Allie: Sure. So, I’m a fashion blogger based in Chicago. I started my blog about six years ago. I am also working full-time at Lightspan Digital, a digital marketing agency here in Chicago. I am an avid user of both Instagram and Pinterest. I have more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, and Pinterest is one of the top drivers of traffic to my website. I also manage Instagram and Pinterest accounts for a lot of different clients.
Bob: Cool, so we’re going to get it straight from somebody who has been successful with it instead of just saying, “Oh, use it.” I mean, I could say use it, but I haven’t been that successful with either one, so maybe I’ll learn something. But of course, I’m not an online retailer either. These first three questions that I’m going to ask you are pretty broad. I’m just going to kind of let you run with them. Now, from the perspective an online store owner, what do you think are the biggest differences between Pinterest and Instagram?
What are the biggest differences between Pinterest and Instagram?
Allie: That’s a great question because they are in fact very different. In terms of similarities, both are very visual platforms. But that’s about all they have in common. I would say the way that they drive traffic is very different. So, Pinterest is really great for driving traffic. Like I said, it’s one of the top sources where my traffic comes from, in addition to Facebook. When you click on a pin, it takes you directly to a website, and that’s very different from Instagram. When you’re on Instagram, usually you’re on your phone, and the only way you can click through a link is to go back to the bio, and it’s really hard to get people to go back there, versus Pinterest, where it’s seamless.
Bob: It sounds like Instagram’s more in-the-moment: just experiencing it moving on. So, with Instagram, and I’m going to play ignorant here, because partly I am, and partly because in case anybody out there in our audience hasn’t had a chance to dive into Instagram. So when you share a picture on Instagram, there’s really no way for them to automatically link to something that relates to that picture?
Allie: Right. You can put a link in your Instagram story, that’s a brand new feature, and maybe there’ll be something that comes out in the future, but I would say Instagram is more of a brand name tool, because it is really hard to drive traffic back to your website, versus Pinterest, it’s very easy to drive traffic. So, that’s a big difference.
Bob: Between the two, you can’t really share to Instagram like you can Pinterest, via a blog or something, right?
Allie: Right. You have to go directly in Instagram.
Bob: Okay. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. When you’re on a blog or anywhere and youbshare to Pinterest, there’s a pin, there’s a share button, whatever. Instagram you actually have to be on Instagram in order to share another Instagram share, right?
Allie: Right, and you can’t just hit a button that says share, you’d have to either screenshot the photo or use another app to repost it. So, there’s a lot more involved.
Bob: Yeah, no kidding. I think that a lot of people looking at the two mix them up and they just think, oh, they’re both so great, like you said, visually, that’s what they think of, but not really understanding what each one does. That’s a huge difference. Let’s go ahead and take the two of them. Let’s start with Pinterest first. What are the top three reasons for an online retailer to use Pinterest and how they can effectively use it?
What are the top reasons for an online retailer to use Pinterest and how do they effectively do that?
Allie: Going back to the differences, their audiences are also very different, which is something important to note. Pinterest is almost 100% female. If you’re selling something that’s geared towards men, don’t even bother with Pinterest, I would say, unless you’re maybe positioning it as a gift during the holidays and you’re selling it to women. Then age is another one, so Pinterest has a lot wider age group than Instagram. They have both Millennials and the Baby Boomer generations on Pinterest, versus Instagram is much younger. The majority of Instagram users are 18 to 29, so that’s a consideration.
Bob: And do the boards in Pinterest and how it actually works as an app, whether you’re mobile or desktop, is that obviously an advantage as far as displaying your images versus Instagram?
Allie: Pinterest does have an app, but I would say people use Instagram a lot more often because just about everyone has Instagram on their phone, and maybe they go on there daily to check, versus Pinterest, you’re probably not checking it as often as Instagram, and most people are going on their computers.
Bob: Right. Now, if we flip it over to Instagram, what are some of the top tips you can give a retailer as far as using Instagram, because obviously, as you said, there’s huge differences. So, if somebody’s thinking, oh, yeah, just putting images on there, and it’s hard for them to share, or they have to be on Instagram, what do you do to get them excited about Instagram?
What are some tips or insights for online retailers using Instagram?
Allie: Instagram is all about photos. Having beautiful photos is really important, so when you’re thinking about Instagram, you should really be working on your photography, whether that’s hiring a professional, getting a professional DSLR camera so your photos are more crisp, or just kind of working on your photography skills, taking that extra time, versus just posting something really thinking about lighting and composition when you’re taking photos is important.
Bob: So, it seems like, because you’re basically competing with thousands, I don’t want to say millions, of other images, and people are going to be flipping through those quickly, you want something that actually catches their eyes. When you’re an online store, or you’re selling a product, how can they do it without it just looking like hey, I’m just advertising my products. Here I am just shooting out pictures of my products. Is there any way they can effectively get people more interested in it without it just looking like mass advertising?
How can online store owners share their images without it just looking like mass advertising?
Allie: With Instagram, you can use user-generated content, so that goes with the whole influence or marketing trends. You can source content from influencers; you can use a branded hashtag and encourage people to post photos using your product and then share those. Your customers are better at selling your products for you. It’s better at building trust, and I would say also don’t just post photos of your product all day. I like to follow the 80-20 rule on really any platform that I’m using. So, you want to be selling 20% of the time, and then 80% of the time you want to be providing your audience with some type of value, whether that’s user-generated content, or on Pinterest it would be re-pinning other things, re-pinning useful tips or whatever.
Bob: I’m kind of gonna throw you—I hope I don’t throw you for a loop here— but let’s say I am an online seller of leather wallets, and I’m going to get on one of these platforms. I’m all gung-ho, and I’ve listened to Allie scold me about the 80-20. Okay, I’m going to put 20% pictures up of my wallets. What would you recommend to them for that other 80% with that particular product, just as an example?
How might a seller of, say, wallets use the 80% (offer value) part of the marketing rule?
Allie: On Pinterest there’s a few different reasons that people are going there, the main ones being they’re looking for an answer to something, like a how-to, how to build something, how to plan something, and also planning, so how to plan a wedding, any type of event. That’s one of the main categories of Pinterest. So, I would create a board that has something to do with a how-to, or planning how to pack for a vacation, and then you would pin photos of your wallet, but then you would also pin a ton of other stuff that you might put in your suitcase or bag. Something like that.
Bob: So on Pinterest, that link is just as critical as the actual image because when they click through, you don’t want them just landing by this product, you want maybe an article that relates to something that would help. And people are not necessarily going to Pinterest to just scan a bunch of photos and say, “Ooh, this is cool looking, ooh, this is cool.” They’re actually looking for images that will inspire them to click through, hoping that they’re going to be shown how to do something, is that it?
Allie: Yeah, they’re looking for something helpful, for sure. So, you want to really facilitate that somehow by including your products on some type of board that has to do with planning an event, or some type of how-to.
Bob: Good. We’ve talked about how they can do things now. You’ve probably have seen tons of retailers out there, and you’ve worked with retailers. Let’s start with Pinstagram … Pinstagram, see? I just did a new one Okay. It’s been a long day. Okay, so let’s start with Pinterest. What do you think is one of the biggest mistake retailers do make when using Pinterest?
What is the biggest mistake online retailers make when using Pinterest?
Allie: When using Pinterest, along the same lines, I think the biggest mistake is assuming that people will care about your brand or follow you just because you have a great product. People go on social media because they’re selfish, because they’re trying to fulfill some type of need. So, if you’re not providing value, if you’re not providing something educational or helpful, or even piquing their curiosity, they’re not really going to care if you just post photos of your product and nothing else. So, I think that’s the number one mistake, really, on either platform.
Bob: On either platform, I was just going to ask you if that’s pretty much the same thing with Instagram.
Allie: I think really on any platform, actually.
Bob: Do you have a tip or two of what you can do on your site’s end, not just on your Pinterest boards and all that, but actually on your site, to get them to get excited enough to share it on Pinterest?
What can we do on our site’s end to get people excited enough to share our images on Pinterest?
Allie: I think making it as easy as possible for people to share something, which is obviously a lot easier with Pinterest. So, definitely having those kind of hover buttons over your images so people can just click through and pin it immediately. People want the least amount of effort to share something. You can provide a call out at the end of your post, saying, “Share this on social media,” or, “Pin this if you found it helpful.” But I think the biggest thing is just providing something that is helpful, because people share things for a few different reasons. One, because they want to share something that will impress their friends or make them appear like an expert on Pinterest or Facebook or wherever it is, so just having that in mind when you’re writing content or designing your website.
Bob: I have a last question where I want you to share anything that maybe we haven’t covered, but something else I actually had just thought of. Are there products that work better on one of those platforms than another? I mean, if you’re really sitting there saying, “Okay, I don’t have time to dive into both of these things, and I need to choose one or the other, and maybe I’ll move to the other here after a bit.” Any advice, or is there any products that work better on one than the other, or any thoughts?
Any additional advice when choosing one platform over another?
Allie: Yeah. Keep in mind that Pinterest is almost 100% female, and there are some popular categories on Pinterest: the top three are food, home décor, and clothing. If your business falls into any one of those categories, absolutely use Pinterest.
Bob: Okay. Anything else you could share about using Pinterest or Instagram or both of them that we haven’t touched on that just you thought, okay, Bob, you should have asked me this and you didn’t, so I need to say this?
Anything else to add?
Allie: I think another mistake businesses make is not taking advantage of the analytics that are built into both of the platforms. They’re super easy to use and right there for you. Totally free. Once you convert to a business account on Instagram and Pinterest you get full access to the analytics. So, after you’ve been on either platform for a little while, I would say go in there and check out what’s going on, see what’s performing well, what hasn’t done well. See if there are any trends, maybe certain types of photos or captions, or even the time of the day that performs the best, and learn from those.
Bob: I promise this will be the last question. This is going off on a little bit of a tangent, but I’m sitting there and I’m listening to this podcast, and I’m thinking, cool, this is great. I have an online store, but I have a personal blog over on this site.
I’ll use myself as an example. I write a lot about WordPress and eCommerce. Now, if I wanted people to share an image, since it’s not product-based or anything, I just put in boring images, they’re not very exciting. With those kind of images, that are just basic images, is there something that maybe would help me, making my images a little more exciting, putting text in them. Is there some little final tip you can give us non-online retailers?
Allie: Yeah, that is something I meant to talk about, actually. So, long pins with vertical images perform the best on Pinterest, because if you share a horizontal image on there, it’s really small, no one’s going to see it. So, definitely include vertical images in your blog post if you want people to pin it, and you can either just use your own vertical image, or you can use a tool like Canva to kind of collage a few together to make them longer. So, I would say that’s the minimum that you should do, and then if you want to add text, that would be great too, or maybe you could add a long image at the end of your post with text for people to share.
Bob: Excellent. All right, well, cool. This is good, just clarifying the differences, especially for people that are just starting with a smaller shop and they’re looking at these things. But also it’s obviously very critical that they do at least experiment with it, give it a try, because everybody’s experience will be slightly different..
Bob: Okay. Now here is the best place for people to find you on the web?
Where can we find Allie on the web?
Allie: Yeah, so you can find me at my blog. It’s alliesfashionalley.com, so A-L-L-I-E-S, Fashion, A-L-L-E-Y.COM. Same name on Instagram, and you can find a link to my Pinterest on my website as well.
Bob: Cool. Well, I appreciate it. I know you have a full-time job. You come home and you have to talk to Bob for 20 minutes instead of sitting back and relaxing and enjoying your evening or dinner or time at home. So, I appreciate you taking the time.
Allie: Yeah, no, I appreciate you having me. Thank you.