Judi Cutrone is a senior social media strategist at The Via Agency.
I use Pinterest. I work with Pinterest, and I love it. And as the social media platform begins its slow creep toward monetization, I’d like to make my preferences, as both a personal user and marketer, heard loud and clear.
Since Pinterest clawed its way onto the short list of must-use social media platforms earlier this year, we’ve wondered about the platform’s plan for brands. Pinterest assures us that this plan does exist and, as proof, recently introduced new business tools that sound reassuring, but they currently offer few real differences for brands. While we wait on pins and needles for Pinterest’s next step forward, maybe it’s time for us to start asking the right questions and suggest what we’d like to see and what we’ll need.
First, Pinterest needs to improve its search capabilities. If I curate my “following” list well and arrive at Pinterest or refresh at just the right time, there’s a definite chance I’ll see something worthy of a re-pin to my own boards. But finding a product, design or solution by specific search is next to impossible, especially as fewer and fewer users tag their pins. I understand that inspiration is meant to be found spontaneously, which is part of Pinterest’s inherent appeal and how it entices you to spend hours scrolling. Unfortunately, this same spirit of inspiration roulette is at odds with my needs as a marketer. While promoted content has been floated around as a possibility and would certainly help, it would be even better if the overall search experience was overhauled and improved (even as the personal user in me begs for a tasteful integration). All Pinterest users, not just brands, would benefit.
Then there’s usable analytics. The outcry for reporting tools on a social media platform is nothing new. My one specific request: learn from Facebook’s recent struggle over the big ROI question and make analytics tools that are in line with what marketers are in need of now, not merely what we were willing to settle for a year ago. We need to be able to see beyond simple reach, impressions and follower counts. Give us a smart, powerful tool that will help us sell Pinterest to clients by revealing what it can do for their bottom lines. I promise you we will pay for it.
The brands that are currently utilizing Pinterest best are doing so by keeping the ideals of inspiration, aspiration and utility top-of-mind. As more brands embrace the platform and are increasingly encouraged to do so, it will be even more challenging to keep the shared content at consistently high standards. My hope is that Pinterest won’t be afraid to guide brands as their use of the platform evolves. Marketers will balk at these guidelines, of course; we will curse and mutter under our breath as we dig deeper to get our messaging across, but, deep down, we will understand.
As a personal user of Pinterest, my final wish is consistent advocacy of the user experience. As long as that continues and is defended throughout this ever-evolving process, I’m confident that the platform will thrive, as will the brands that choose to go along for the ride.