This morning, I woke up to a message from Pinterest in my inbox. Normally, I check these notifications to see which of my friends have sent me hilarious cat-related memes or have re-pinned my latest Halloween-themed decorating finds. So, I was surprised to find that this message was of an entirely different nature, and was from Pinterest’s creator, talking to me (for some reason) about his family. Here’s how it began:
“Just over a year ago, my wife and I welcomed our son into the world. Since his first day, I’ve been pinning fun things we can do together, right now while he’s still little and later when he gets older. I know many of you do the same. Pinterest is where you keep your wishlists, vacation plans, dream home ideas, and other things you want to do soon and in the future.”
Lovely sentiment, I thought. I DO, in fact, use Pinterest to document the dreams of my heart and desires of my soul. But…why are you telling me this? Then I continued reading.
“That’s why for us, it’s so important that Pinterest is a service that will be here to stay. To help make sure it does, we’re going to start experimenting with promoting certain pins from a select group of businesses.”
Oh, I see where this is going.
First remind me that you’re a human being with human feelings who loves Pinterest for the same human reasons I do. Lull me into the whole “this company has a soul” thing, and then: BAM! Hit me with the “but we still have to make money, so get ready for some intrusive, disruptive ads” part.
“I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh great…here come the banner ads.’ But we’re determined to not let that happen. While we haven’t figured out all the details, I can say that promoted pins will be:
Tasteful—No flashy banners or pop-up ads.
Transparent—We’ll always let you know if someone paid for what you see, or where you see it.
Relevant—These pins should be about stuff you’re actually interested in, like a delicious recipe, or a jacket that’s your style.
Improved based on your feedback—Keep letting us know what you think, and we’ll keep working to make things better.”
Wait a minute, I thought. That actually doesn’t sound so bad. All of those things — transparency, tastefulness, relevancy, and a focus on customer feedback — are things we hear over and over again that people want in advertising, especially digital ads, which, if done incorrectly, can be completely disruptive and maddeningly frustrating. The message even outlined exactly what I can expect to see as the new promoted pins roll out, and assured me that my input regarding that rollout will be highly valued:
“For our first test, we’ll promote a few pins in search results and category feeds. For example, a pin for a Darth Vader outfit from a costume shop might be promoted in a search for “halloween.” Nobody’s paying for anything yet—we want to see how things go and, more than anything, hear what you think.
Thanks so much for all your support these first few years, and we hope you’ll keep pinning with us for many years to come!
All the best,
Aw, we’re even on a first name basis!
There’s a right way and wrong way to go about changing the way a social media platform works (especially when those changes have to do with advertising), and this, friends, is the right way; giving users a heads-up, complete with detailed information and a genuine-feeling emphasis on the importance of user feedback. While I can’t actually comment on the promotions themselves, as I haven’t seen them yet, as both a Pinterest user and PR writer, I am not totally dreading the whole thing. And that’s a pretty good start!