How the visual discovery platform is rethinking stories and influencers
“The content on our platform is about you and what you want in your life,” explained Colleen Stauffer, Global Director of Creator Marketing for Pinterest. “We really tried to harness planning that became way more short-term last year during the pandemic. We wanted to fit people in their current lives and how they planned in the hour.”
The pandemic didn’t just change our lives out in the real world, it changed digital lives as well. It modified the demands users placed on familiar tools. For marketers, taking note of these shifts on social media platforms is essential. For the architects of these communities, the trends cut deep into human experience.
Before the pandemic, Stauffer was aware of the tendency for users (called “Pinners”) to be “future-looking” in the content they sought out. They might be planning a vacation, or maybe they were redesigning a room in their home. With the pandemic, those same people were now searching out short-term solutions. What quick meal could they prepare just before a work-from-home meeting, while their child did remote learning on the family laptop?
As a quick response last March, Pinterest moved up the launch of their Today tab. The feature allowed users to get quick updates from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Users could also find kid-friendly baking recipes and recommended movies to fill all the downtime indoors.
Powering up creators
In addition to helping their audience navigate a stressful time, Pinterest has also taken steps to grow and strengthen its community. Often, they have done so to distinguish themselves from other platforms like Instagram or YouTube, instead of following standard social media practice. On Pinterest, there is following and sharing, but for years they’ve emphatically denied that they are social media. They define themselves as visual discovery.
What they call themselves isn’t as important as what they help members of their community do. And this is important for marketers because last summer Pinterest topped 400 million monthly active users. It’s growing among millennials and Gen Zers, including a 50% boost year-over-year for men on the platform.
Strengthening Pinterest’s creator base powers the entire community and makes it even more valuable to brands. The moves Pinterest is making in this direction show how users and their preferences have changed.
At the end of September, Pinterest introduced Story Pins, the ability for creators to tell multi-page stories. This beta version also included a new creator profile and analytics tools to track performance. Pinterest is also giving creators access to analytics across the community through its trends tool.
At the heart the new Story Pins format is a wager against how other digital stories are told. For instance, the stories on Instagram expire after 24 hours. On Pinterest, they stay where they are. This feature leverages the evergreen value in Pinterest content, allowing Pinners to discover and rediscover what might have been overlooked in the past.
With the new beta Story Pins, creators can also publish directly to Pinterest. Also, Pinners can browse and then message creators directly within the platform via the new profile.
“Creators want the content to live in one place,” Stauffer said. “Creating content directly on Pinterest has been a need for our Pinners. They want to find an amazing food creator, see their Story Pin, and get the recipe, all within our ecosystem.”
Influencing and shopping
While creators and their followers get to engage with the created content all in one place, the environment also gains ecommerce potential. Insider projects that in 2021, social commerce sales will surpass $36 billion in the U.S. alone. (The 2020 U.S. social commerce market was estimated at just under $30 billion.)
Already this year, Pinterest is taking steps to make its platform more shoppable, including through Story Pins. Currently it has integrated an augmented reality try-on feature for some beauty products. It turns out that Pinners who use this feature are five times more likely to show purchase intent.
According to Stauffer, 89% of weekly Pinners use Pinterest for inspiration in their path to purchase, confirming the influencing potential of creators. Additionally, 83% of weekly users have made a purchase based on Pinterest content.
“Pinterest is a visual discovery platform and every time Pinners see a product they like, they should be able to buy it, or something like it, based on their unique taste,” Stauffer said. “That’s our vision for shopping with Pinterest. We have launched shopping products that bring shopping everywhere across the platform, including our Verified Merchant Program and our partnership with Shopify, where brands can easily upload their product feeds and turn them into shoppable Pins.”
She added, “In the coming months we’ll be introducing product tagging for Story Pins so creators can tag specific products within their Story Pins and reach people in a mindset to plan and shop.”
Next-level influencing for Pinterest creators
So what does the future of influencing on Pinterest look like?
Fashion designer Peter Som took to Pinterest to broaden his knowledge of food and mixology. He has close to 3 million Pinners following him.
In a test campaign over the holidays, Pinterest paired Som with a Diageo spirits brand, Tanqueray. He mixed up cocktails with three variants of the gin to show the versatility of the brand. Outside of the food category, Pinterest also activated sponsored Story Pins for IKEA.
With a more robust influencer community added onto its already highly engaged community of creators and Pinners, the platform will be competitive in the emerging social commerce market.
Pinterest’s future-looking behavior can also provide hope for relief in stressful times. According to Stauffer, the Pinners are starting to search for vacations again.
This story first appeared on MarTech Today.
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.