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Pinterest vs. Facebook: Which is really the better visual social network?

23 October 2012

Visual content has become one of the most desirable types of content because it’s so darn easy to consume. But it’s not enough to just create beautiful, funny, engaging visual content… marketers are now wondering where the best place to promote that visual content is.

Until now, it’s seemed like Pinterest really takes the cake in terms of the best social network for visual content promotion.

But recently, Facebook launched a little something called Collections, which is a Pinterest-style feature that allows users to add products to a wishlist or curate them into a particular list.  Sounds kind of like Pinterest, doesn’t it?

Wwhich is the better social network for promoting visual content? Pinterest, or Facebook?

98% of people surveyed with a Pinterest account said they also have a Facebook and/or Twitter account

Facebook has over 900 million active users – 500 of whom are estimated to use Facebook daily. Meanwhile, Pinterest has over 10 million users, 98% of whom have a Facebook and/or Twitter account.

Clearly, Facebook has a much larger audience. And when it comes to sharing content online, you want it to reach as many people as possible.

Winner: Facebook

Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t

Infographics helped accelerate the visual content revolution.

Content creators everywhere are finding ways to create and share infographics to help increase their reach and generate leads. One way to accelerate that reach is by sharing these infographics on social media.

But this actually presents a big problem when it comes to posting infographics on Facebook: Facebook is horizontal image friendly, and square image friendly.

So any image you post on Facebook can either have a nice square look, or if you make it your cover photo or use the ‘Highlight’ tool, it can be a nice horizontal image. There’s no place, however, for a clean vertical image on your business page, or in your news feed.

Therefore, when you upload an infographic, you quickly see how teeny weeny it publishes.

On Pinterest, however, one can upload boards and boards full of infographics  and you can see them beautifully!

It’s a place where people can easily pin and re-pin amazing infographic creations without having to worry about sharing a link where the user can see the rest of the infographic.

People love browsing infographics on Pinterest so much, in fact, there are entire boards dedicated to infographics!

Winner: Pinterest

Pinterest drives sales directly from its website, 21% have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest

At the end of the day, the visuals you’re sharing on your social channels is a way to introduce people to your brand.

Whether it’s through showing your product, or taking a more indirect route and publishing an image that simply gets a lot of shares, your visual content is a strategy for warming up users to your brand so they ultimately take some kind of transactional action.

Pinterest can directly lead to sales because users can be redirected to a business’ website by clicking on the image.

But now Facebook has its ‘Collections’ feature in beta, as mentioned earlier in this post. This new feature will allow users to easily bucket or “collect” products they like on Facebook business pages into wishlists for purchase.  It’s essentially a shopping cart, something that Pinterest does not have.

The question now is, will the ability to save items into a wishlist for later prove a better way to purchase than clicking on a link and being sent directly to the site for purchase?

For now, Pinterest clearly has the win with the impressive stat on correlation to sales plus it’s available to all users.

But as Facebook Collections is launched and perhaps adopted, it’ll be important to watch if this changes.

Winner: Pinterest

40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text

When users browse on Pinterest, they already know that they’re looking at visual content. They have no choice to respond “better” or “worse” because all of the content is visual. But at the same time, perhaps the fact that Pinterest is all images creates more opportunity to respond well to the content!

Meanwhile, on Facebook, users are browsing a news feed full of both text and images. So when they see an image, they have the ability to respond “better” to that image because it’s capturing their interest in a sea of text and links.

Does Pinterest being comprised exclusively of images mean users are responding more positively all the time, or does Facebook see a more amplified positive response due to the intermittent images?

Until we can figure that out more conclusively, we say …

Winner: Tie

Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video

If viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video, your business sure as sugar better be creating video content.

Both Facebook and Pinterest allow you to upload video content.

Even better, both allow users to view the video content right from that social network. There are small features that could work in each respective network’s favor, but for the most part, both networks provide the same option.

On Facebook, you can have the video playing while navigating around the rest of that business page or news feed.

But on Pinterest, the video pops open and is still on your screen.

On the other hand, when you click on the video on Pinterest, it merely pauses and plays; when you click on a video on Facebook a second time (after the initial to play), it redirects you to YouTube, interrupting the user’s experience.

Winner: Tie

So, Which Social Network is Better for Visual Content?

It depends!

Marketers should be evaluating what exactly they want to gain from sharing visual content, and then figuring out which social network helps them achieve that end.

Perhaps your business is solely interested in sharing visuals for brand awareness and reach,  in that case, you might want to focus your efforts more on Facebook.

But if your business is trying to drive purchases of a product, you might see more luck on Pinterest,  depending, of course, of your industry and target demographic.