NATIVE 2015 Q&A: Pinterest's Head Of Brand Strategy Says Pinterest Isn't A Social Network

on Sharethrough Events, The Future Of Publishing

Among the major social networks, many would argue that Pinterest, especially for e-commerce brands, provides the most immediate and direct impact to the bottom line.

With the much-anticipated release of its buy button, the ability to take a consumer from pin to purchase is becoming more seamless than ever before.

That's why Kevin Knight, Pinterest's head of agency and brand strategy, is responsible for making sure that brands are using the platform correctly and in a way that best serves its users. This means finding ways to be creative, engaging and useful with an audience flipping through hundreds of pins a day.

In this Native Q&A, Knight tries to convince us that Pinterest isn't a social network, tells us what brand his most recent favorite pin is from and whether the platform has any plans to host brand content. For more, make sure you come see Knight speak at NATIVE 2015, July 21st in San Francisco.

Kevin Knight, Pinterest

Sharethrough: Let’s start off with an easy one: What did you last pin?

Kevin Knight: My most recent Pins are paintings by Edward Hopper and Wayne Thiebaud. I was at the Whitney Museum in NYC a few days ago and these paintings stood out. My wife and I are looking for a painting for our entryway and I want to try to find something aesthetically similar.

Sharethrough: OK, now we’re diving right in: How do brands use Pinterest? How should brands who aren’t on Pinterest use it and think about it compared to other social platforms like Facebook or Twitter?

Knight: The main thing to keep in mind is that Pinterest isn’t a social network, it’s a planning tool. Most Pinners are using it to plan their future – everything from what they want to have for dinner tonight to where they want to go on vacation in August to what kind of art they want to use in their house. So the key to brand success on Pinterest is to ask yourself, “what kinds of things does my brand help people do in their lives” and then put content on Pinterest that helps people do those things. As people discover ideas around the kinds of experiences your business enables, they’ll buy the kind of stuff your business sells. Two thirds of all the content on Pinterest comes from brands, so you don’t need to hide behind a social persona – your brand can just be itself.

Sharethrough: What is the most interesting piece of branded content you have seen on Pinterest?

Knight: Two-thirds of all content on Pinterest comes from businesses, so this is a tough one. There are dozens of favorites, but I’ll go with one from Bank of America. They have this Pin all about how a couple getting married can begin their financial life together in the best way possible. It’s brilliant because they know life events are important marketing moments for their business and they know that millions of people use Pinterest to plan for major life events like getting married. It’s great content because it’s on brand and additive to the Pinterest user’s experience.

Sharethrough: The big story these days is how publishers are beginning to host content directly on social platforms like SnapChat and Facebook. What is Pinterest’s position and is there any chance Pinterest will also get into the content hosting game?

Knight: Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool and part of the magic has always been that you find something on Pinterest and click through to take action – whether that’s buying a sweater or reading an article. Driving traffic off of Pinterest to other websites is a hallmark of the Pinterest experience and we have no plans to go into content hosting.

Sharethrough: Pinterest is a very visual platform. What sorts of goals should brands should have when using or advertising on the platform?

Knight: The number one recommendation I’d make here is that advertisers not let the visual nature of Pinterest eclipse the powerful role that a Pin’s description has. Images grab your attention and draw you in, but it’s the descriptions that explain to a Pinner why this particular piece of content is relevant to them. Thorough, detailed descriptions are one of the best ways to drive engagement – including repinning and click-through – on Pinterest.