Pinterest vs. Instagram vs. Snapchat

By Holly Kosec on July 5, 2017

By Holly Kosec on July 5, 2017

I love visual social media. It should be no surprise, then, that I have accounts on Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat.

One question that I hear from clients, though, is what’s the difference? If my product or service is visual, should I be on all three? If not, then which one should I focus on?

Okay, that’s actually three questions. But don’t stress, I should be able to address all of them.

Let’s look at a breakdown of each of them so you can decide for yourself!


As of April 2017, Pinterest reported 175 million active users. The audience tends to be women who are ready to make a purchase, but that’s been shifting over time to include more men as well.

Pinterest has described themselves as more of a “catalog of ideas” rather than a social network. Essentially, Pinterest is mostly about sharing other people’s content, rather than posting original content.

In fact, while you can upload images directly to Pinterest, most images are “pinned” from the web page where people found them.

Pinterest does let you share videos through pinning the thumbnail of the video. You can also share links by pinning an image that is used on the page you’re linking to.

Businesses and nonprofits can have a presence on Pinterest through Business Accounts.


As of April 2017, Instagram reported 700 million monthly active users. They’re roughly 2/3 female and 1/3 male. About 9/10 users are under the age of 35.

Instagram is all about sharing your own content. And while there is an Instagram website, their service is really centered around your mobile device and their app.

Instagram tends to be event-based, with users sharing photos of things happening in real life. Unlike Pinterest, Instagram does allow the direct sharing of videos.

Just like Pinterest, businesses and nonprofits can have a presence on Instagram through Business Accounts.


As of May 2017, Snapchat reported 166 million daily active users. Hootsuite reports that about 1/3 of Snapchat users are 18-24 years old, 1/4 are 25-34, and just over 1/10 are 35-54. A measly 2% are over 55.

Snapchat started as a visual messaging platform, not somewhere to publicly share images. But over time it’s shifted to accommodate both.

The core functionality of Snapchat is “snaps,” which are photos or videos, potentially with edits like filters. Those are shared, then disappear just a few seconds after they’re first viewed.

Snapchat has a number of paid business-related features, including ads and filters.

So which platform is right for you? You’ll have to balance how well the audience, capabilities, comfort level, and culture matches what you’re going after.

Choose wisely!

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