As social media continues to intersect with SEO and content marketing efforts in 2014, marketers are faced with the job of deciding which social networks to use. It can be tempting to stick with the platforms you already have a presence on, while skipping networks like Instagram and Pinterest where you may not have a profile. And you need a profile to fulfill the traditional goals of social media marketing: creating more followers and interested customers – right?

The truth is, social media has a lot more benefits for your brand than an increase in followers. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have different marketing opportunities than Facebook and Twitter, due to their visual element. By ignoring these visual networks, you may be limiting the scope of your marketing campaign. You’ll also be ignoring the growing role that graphics and visuals are playing in content across the web, which are the core functions of Instagram and Pinterest.

Why You Shouldn’t Use It

Before you decide to enter the world of Pinterest and Instagram networks, strategise and make sure you have the time and resources to make your efforts worthwhile. Just because everyone else is using it, everyone is talking about it online, or your competitors are already on the network doesn’t mean you necessarily need to follow.

Your competitors aren’t always right, and even though the networks are free, you still have to dedicate time to see results. Don’t make the marketing decision because of what others are doing, instead, strategise and come up with ways you can incorporate imagery into your brand. Make sure you have the capability to create graphics and photographic content. And analyse the demographics to determine if it’s the right move for you and worthwhile to be using Pinterest and Instagram.

Why You Should Use It

Pinterest and Instagram’s networks have valuable demographics due to their visual elements. Most women or teens use one of the platforms, and most young consumers aren’t waiting around for brands to join – they’re already sharing content from the brands that are interacting with them now.

Compared to other sources of traffic, conversion rates for Pinterest users are extremely high. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest introduces customers directly to retailers and helps brands catch users’ attention first.

There is also a large amount of sharing potential that helps increase a brand’s initial exposure. Since over 80% of pins are re-pins, it’s easy for one single pin to go viral and appear on Pinterest over and over again for weeks. This can send an immense amount of traffic to your website, making it possible to measure social media results without focusing on your number of followers.