Shopping Gets Social: Pinterest and Instagram Updates


Mobile-shopping-525x600As the digital landscape has transformed the way we send, receive and seek information, online shopping has increased significantly in the last few years. Research by Wipro Digital found that in 2013, 36 percent of U.S. shoppers reported doing the majority of their shopping online, and since then, ecommerce has increased by 25 percent. Today, 61 percent of U.S. shoppers are making the majority of their purchases online. This trend will continue to grow this year. According to Wipro, 50 percent of U.S. shoppers plan to do more shopping online, while only 4 percent plan to make more in-store purchases.

On June 2, Pinterest and Instagram unveiled “Buy buttons” that allow users to purchase items they see while scrolling through Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds on their mobile devices. On Pinterest, you will now see “buyable pins,” enabling users to search for pins within a specific price range, product color and more, while buying directly through Pinterest’s mobile app. Rich pins (pins with information for ingredients and DIY projects) will also have “buy it” buttons, so users will be able to buy the list of products without leaving Pinterest.

While scrolling through Instagram, you will see ads with “Shop Now,” “Install Now,”  “Sign Up” and “Learn More” buttons. These features are an addition to Instagram’s carousel ads that launched in March and will help companies with their selling and marketing efforts on social media. For companies, these new ad features will have better targeting options based on age, location, gender, interests, places and other demographics.

Some marketers believe these new features on Pinterest and Instagram will increase brands’ conversion rates and boost engagement and sales, but others believe these features don’t help them get to know their consumers enough.

While the new buyable pins on Pinterest could significantly increase company sales and enhance the consumer experience, some people do not believe the same can be said for Instagram. Adam Padilla, creative director of BrandFire, describes the new Instagram features as “risky” and “a mistake.” As an Instagram user with over 17,000 followers, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s shopping while he scrolls through his feed. Padilla described Instagram as more of a personal experience than Pinterest and said Pinterest was similar to a marketplace like Etsy.

With these features, companies will have to be cautious and think about their digital strategies because consumers don’t want to feel like their Pinterest searches and Instagram feeds are being taken over by ads.

While some believe these updates won’t help drive sales, others believe these features will make shopping even easier with instant access to products. One thing is for sure, digital technology is changing the way we live our lives, and these new features on Pinterest and Instagram have the potential to change the way we view products and make purchases.

Megan Healy is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. She is an active member of Temple University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and is an account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run PR firm. She will be studying abroad in London this summer and will be graduating this December. Follow Megan on Twitter at @Meg_Healy_ and connect with her on LinkedIn at

Upgrade Your Instagram

Last week, Instagram shared several tips to help brands maximize the popular social media platform’s potential. The post on the company’s Tumblr page features several brands that Instagram sees as exemplarily users. Keep these helpful hints in mind the next time you take to your company’s Instagram account:

  1. Be true to your brand. Your photos should reflect a clear personality. You can try to work in current trends, but always stay true to your brand’s voice.
  2. Share experiences. Give your followers a look at what your brand makes possible.
  3. Find beauty everywhere. Beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places – take it from General Electric, one of the company’s featured in Instagram’s post. Take what your brand does and find a way to make it meaningful to your followers.
  4. Inspire action. Develop a hashtag and ask your followers to get involved.
  5. Know your audience. Once you know what people like about your brand, you can develop new content based on those characteristics.

Are you already using these guidelines? What other rules do you try to follow when posting to a client’s Instagram page?

Mix & Match Your Social Networks

Any good PR pro knows that social media sites have varying audiences and favor different types of content, but it is also important to learn how you can pair your social networks in order to give your brand more exposure.

Mashable recently shared some tips on which social platforms work well together and how you can best use these combinations. The pairings included:

  • Instagram and Pinterest
  • Tumblr and Pinterest
  • Twitter and Pinterest
  • YouTube and  “Everything Else”
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Twitter and Tumblr/Reddit

How have you mix & matched your brand’s social networks? Which combinations have proved to be most successful? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

This post was written by PPRA Blog Chair Lauren Cox. Lauren is a Public Relations Specialist in the Office of the CIty Representative, where she works on the City’s major events like the Wawa Welcome America! Festival and the Philadelphia Marathon. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.