With the #ThinkContent Tour making a stop in San Francisco on October 8, NewsCred caught up with panelist and speaker Annie Katrina Lee, content marketing lead at Pinterest, for her thoughts on content discovery and curation. (You just may want to Pin this one!)
What Is Pinterest?
Lee says Pinterest can be best described as a visual bookmarking site to discover and save creative ideas. Just don’t call it a social media platform, she says. “We started to shy away from the social media aspects because our users talk about Pinterest as being something for themselves. Their ideas. For them. They don’t go on Pinterest to see what their friends are up to,” she says.
What also sets Pinterest’s content apart is that it’s very open and encouraging that users get off of Pinterest to do the things that they are inspired by. “Our content is designed to be actionable,” says Lee.
Still, Pinterest recognizes that the site does have community appeal for some subsets of users. One example is the teacher community. Lee says they were initially surprised to see all of the creative ways teachers were using Pinterest, so they went ahead and created the Teachers on Pinterest community page, which has almost 130k followers. The community page gives educators a place to create and share ideas on group boards. “They are saving lesson plans and classroom ideas. It’s really an empowering tool for teachers,” she says. The original page has now expanded into boards for teachers in each grade, and by subject. “We laid the foundation, and it’s still active today,” says Lee.
Why Is Pinterest Doing Content Marketing?
While the platform doesn’t technically create its own content, it does want to engage its users and encourage them to visit and Pin. That’s where Lee’s content marketing team comes in. Back in the day, all Pinterest email marketing was algorithm-generated based on user activity, but today, it’s more deliberate. Lee says her team started by looking closely at content that was trending to drive its editorial calendar. “We saw that grilling was trending for Memorial Day, so we curated the top grilling recipes, and put some human curation behind it,” she explains. That campaign was successful, and the program has since been rolled out to the 13 different channels/categories that Pinterest owns.
“We’re marrying the art and science of content marketing,” says Lee. By combining data-driven insights with input from the creative team, Pinterest is able to push out the most relevant content to its users.
While Lee is focused on Pinterest’s own content marketing efforts, she is continually impressed at the creative ways that brands are leveraging the site. The company recently introduced Buyable Pins so that merchants can sell products directly on the platform. “It will give more ammunition for brands to see the value of Pinterest. We certainly drive a lot of traffic back to brands and that has never been a problem, but the goal is to make that traffic more meaningful by delivering transactions,” she says.
More than anything, Lee attributes content marketing success at Pinterest to cross collaboration among all of the teams. “We are trying to make sure all the channels are integrated. For instance, data tells us that in September during football kickoff, game day recipes will trend, so we’ll have emails ready to go, social teams will prep, and PR will prepare good data points to pitch to media outlets,” she says.
On a daily basis, however, what Lee sees as the biggest trend is how data teams and creative are working together. “There’s a healthy tension there. The growth lead at Pinterest and I are joined at the hip. We’re constantly trying to improve growth strategy without tarnishing our brand,” she says.
Achieving growth without sacrificing brand voice is a constant challenge in content marketing, but one that can be overcome with more collaboration, says Lee.