Pinterest pushes positivity and inspiration credentials as it builds out B2B offering

Social media platform's advertiser summit hightlights brands experimenting on the platform, new features to connect inspiration to conversion and the alternative pitch to social media rivals

Connecting inspiration and positivity with conversion is the ambition for social media platform, Pinterest, and it’s building out consumer insights and commerce capabilities in the hopes of delivering it.  

During its second annual global advertiser summit, Pinterest Presents, the company positioned itself as the positive alternative to its reputation-wrecked social platform rivals. It also presented consumer trends data, brand case studies, research and new product features all aimed at strengthening its position as a place to build brand awareness through to conversion.

While many products and report data points were clearly designed to address hesitancy brands may have considering Pinterest as more than a potential awareness tool, they were also about differentiating the platform against more negative perceptions of competitors through its inclusive, inspiration and positive platform credentials. And it's here Pinterest will need to keep on its toes to ride the wave of growing consumer expectations for businesses to do good and be socially responsible.

An arguably unusual brand campaign example presented during the event was from Sage head of social media UK and Ireland, Peter Hoffer, who spoke about the SMB accounting software company’s first foray into Pinterest for marketing. With the goal of finding new formats and channels to engage with new audiences, Hoffer said his team was nevertheless unsure what to expect as it embarked on its first Pinterest campaign.  

“We knew we wanted to try something different. As a SaaS company, we need to make sure our campaigns are approachable and human and we thought Pinterest would be a great partner,” he said. “We didn’t have much room for error and relied heavily on Pinterest’s data-backed approach. That gave us the confidence we needed.”  

Sage’s campaign came out of Pinterest Predicts, the social media platform’s insights report, which highlights several emerging trends springing up on the platform. Among the most recent trends identified in 2021 are ‘dopamine dressing’, or a growing desire from consumers to wear bright colours; the goth ‘renaissance’ and extension of goth looks into everything from homewares to baby clothes; and ‘altbashes’, or consumers focusing on alternative milestone celebrations, such as the adoption of a dog or a divorce.  

In Sage’s case, the trend that resonated most was ‘bet on yourself’. “That highlighted that a number of people would be tapping into their entrepreneurial spirit in 2021 and that business topics would be more searchable,” Hoffer explained.  

“The topic highlighted keywords such as ‘branding your business’, ‘podcast design’ and ‘accounting basics’.”  

Sage worked with Pinterest to build a campaign addressing these called ‘Back yourself’. “It was a way to partner with Pinterest to address those key points and help people on the journey of sorting out their own business, using Sage as a partner,” Hoffer said.  

“Originally, we focused on brand awareness, but then realised conversions were happening - people were signing up for a free trial and purchasing. So we iterated our campaigns to focus more on conversions.”  

Hoffer said Pinterest was also a conduit for fostering more test-and-learn capabilities internally.

“As businesses, we need to move more quickly and intelligently,” he commented. “With the data-based approach and seeing the trends was like looking into the future. That gave us the confidence to create these campaigns.”    

Marketing activities in 2022 see Sage continuing to partner with Pinterest and build on its early campaign success, Hoffer added.  

Another case study was presented by sustainable-oriented fashion brand, Rothy’s, which has developed a thread made out of recycled plastic bottles to produce products. SVP of marketing, Elie Donahue, saw Pinterest as a place where people look forward with a sense of possibility, inspiration and ideas generation.  

Using Pinterest Predicts, Rothy’s has built marketing campaigns as well as content. Donahue highlighted macro trends around weddings and gifting as insights her team uses to inform creative. Emphasis on Rothy’s product values - durability, versatility and sustainability – along with tapping into what topics its self-named ‘Rothy’s addicts’ are talking about also all inform how the brand is creating content and media plans. And it’s these aspects that help it map to the ‘why’ for consumers, she said.  

For example, consumers during the pandemic were looking for bolder, brighter colours, so Rothy’s amped that up in its advertising, created boards around it and even created product collections in response.  

“Pinterest is in a unique part of the funnel – if you’re going from awareness straight to harvesting, you’re missing the ripe place where people are planning,” Donahue said.  

Connecting inspiration with conversion  

According to research conducted on Pinterest’s behalf by Nielsen across 9000 media platform users including 1000 Australians last June, Pinterest led the list for inspiring users with new ideas against any other digital platforms (86 per cent). The research also found 83 per cent of pinners either buying or trying something new, and that nearly three-quarters perceived Pinterest as a space where they feel positive (72 per cent). Additional Dynata figures showed Aussies on Pinterest as well as other platforms across fashion and beauty verticals outspent the pack by 2x every month.    

In Australia, 79 per cent said Pinterest shows them something to try or buy, and 76 per cent found things they would like to experience, have or own in their own lives.  

The emphasis on personalised shopping and connecting the dots from consideration to conversion dominated the list of new features Pinterest debuted as part of the summit. The platform claims to have nearly half a billion global users each month using Pinterest each month.  

New features include ‘Your shop’, a personal shopping concierge that uses an algorithm to help identify content from creators and brands matching a user’s preferences. There’s also expanded checkout tools from within a pin being offered to more Shopify merchants on the platform, plus a shopping API now in beta that will allow merchants to create and upload product catalogues as well as update pricing and availability more easily.  

Pinterest said it’s also rolling out a ‘trends tool’ to provide more granular tools and trend recommendations to its B2B users. The latter feature is launching in the US, Canada and UK first but expected to come to more countries later in the year.  

However, as Pinterest looks to set itself up as a safe and positive digital space, it will need to remain vigilant on how its vets brands and content to avoid falling into the same negative and politically charged spaces its rivals have ended up in.  

For example, during the event, Pinterest announced new merchant details in the form of ‘badges’ that would allow brands to promote their values and environmental, social and governance credentials. These include being eco-friendly, social values, indigenous ownership and more. While a certification process was flagged for onboarding merchants, how to verify such credentials given the rising importance of these issues remains a big question and one no sole platform an arguably answer.  

What Pinterest chief marketing officer, Andrea Mallard, was keen to point out was that inspiration is more urgent than it’s ever been. And Pinterest wants to own that.  

“We’re doubling down on products and features to help move people from the insight phase of inspiration, into the decision phase,” she said. “From product tagging in Idea Pins, so creators can actually tag their ideas with the products they used; to checkout, so shoppers can actually convert without leaving the app; we're building an ecosystem to help people take their spark of an idea and make it a reality.”

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