How to Inspire Your Audience on Pinterest

By BrainStation January 22, 2020

Stop Advertising. Start Inspiring. That was Azadeh Attar’s message at Social Media Week, and as the Head of Partnerships at Pinterest, she’s well acquainted with awe-inspiring content. During her talk, she encouraged marketers to remember the top of the funnel by delighting audiences with engaging content.

Eager to learn more, we spoke with Attar about her role as Head of Partnerships, the trick to building a creative campaign, and how companies can leverage Pinterest to inspire their audiences.

Headshot of Azadeh Attar
Azadeh Attar, Head of Partnerships at Pinterest

What does a typical day look like for you as Head of Partnerships at Pinterest?

My days are an energizing mix of working with our advertising partners and collaborating with our internal teams around the world. My work with our partners focuses on helping them achieve their business objectives using Pinterest. We’re continuing to introduce new ways for advertisers to get their products in front of Pinterest users while also making the platform more shoppable. My day could include presenting to a marketing team or agency about Pinterest, running a creative best practice session, or collaborating with our partners on a big campaign idea. I also spend time each day working with cross-functional partners at Pinterest to help inform the next set of products and tools that will help our advertisers succeed. It’s really exciting to be able to help shape the products we’re building and collaborate across a wide cross-section of offerings like measurement, analytics, creative and marketing.

You have an impressive background! How did your experience at Google influence the way you approach marketing and partnerships today?

One of the values I admire greatly at Google is that of putting the user first and all else will follow. It made the priority clear and the motive empowering.  It’s also one of Pinterest’s values – putting the Pinner first – in fact, the user is at the core of our mission: bringing everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.  

visual representation of wellness showing berries, leaves, weights, elixirs, and other wellness items
Health and Wellness was one of the top 100 Pinterest trends in 2019. Photo from Pinterest.

Climbing to the top of your field can be all-consuming, and many leaders struggle to manage the time they dedicate to their career and the time dedicated to their personal wellness. As an executive, how have you found that balance? 

I’m still working on this and striving to find balance, but for me, I’ve realized that having a supportive manager and strong accountable team is key.  I work hard, but I also spend time taking care of my family and doing the things that are important for me to live a full and happy life. Our team supports each other in this which has had an immensely positive impact on my life. At Pinterest, we’re passionate about the work we do, and we also recognize that it’s important to do things like cook, travel, garden, run, and build. We also greatly value diversity and inclusion and the company has many family-friendly benefits and practices that allow parents to thrive. 

At Social Media Week, you mentioned you’re excited to work for Pinterest because you align well with their values. What are some of Pinterest’s core values? And what values do you think tech giants as a whole should uphold?

Pinterest has a few core values and one of my favorites is “Put Pinners First.” Our company is always thinking about how they can make Pinterest an inspiring and positive place to help people create a life they love.  A great example of this in action is in preventing the spread of misinformation about vaccination. Last year, Pinterest took the step to only show Pins from trusted sources such as the American Association of Pediatrics when someone searches for information about vaccination.  

I imagine as Head of Partnerships, a big part of your role is building relationships with other companies. What are you looking for in a B2B partner? And what makes for a good B2B partnership?

One of the things I love about Pinterest is that brands are additive to the platform – they actually enhance the user experience because they provide utility and add value to the user.  Brands want to matter, to be relevant, to be of value, and that is exactly what Pinterest allows them to achieve. People come to Pinterest with the intent to plan for something in their future, a dream vacation, a home renovation, a work outfit, or a new skincare routine, and brands are what helps people bring those moments, those ideas to life. As such, brands are inherently useful on the platform, not an interruption. It’s so refreshing to be able to partner with brands in this way and help them discover ways to inspire their customers. I love partnering with brands that are eager to connect to their audiences in this way. 

What kind of content do you suggest for ad-resistant eyeballs? Is there a campaign you’ve seen that you think was especially effective?

People come to Pinterest when they are planning for things in their lives from big projects to small life moments like what to cook for dinner or a new beauty look to try.  And, businesses can turn users into customers through compelling and visually informative ads that are created specifically for the platform.

For example, we recently conducted a study of Pinterest users to ask what makes ads inspiring. Analyzing their feedback and responses determined that for Pinners, ads are inspiring when they have two or more of the following attributes: positivity, visual-appeal, novelty, and are attainable and actionable. The dimension here that stands out for me is ‘positivity.’ People really respond to uplifting, ads that inspire rather than interrupt. We’re all looking for more positivity in our lives, we’re looking for encouragement and empowerment. 

A great example of this is a recent Sportchek video that’s running in January that’s all about encouraging and empowering people to achieve their 2020 goals.  

A few top tips for creative ads on Pinterest: 

  • Brands are additive on Pinterest, where people are seeking inspiration and ideas. Successful creative ads on Pinterest are a reflection of this mindset, offering solutions through visually appealing, actionable, and most of all inspiring content.
  • Branded creative should move people on Pinterest from “discovery” to “do.” Encourage people to think or do something new through visuals and interesting copy, from simple call-to-action headlines right through to step-by-step tutorials.
  • Be brand proud and ensure your logo is clearly visible.
  • Tap into moments, trends and interests to create ads specifically for Pinterest, even when you are repurposing assets from other channels.
  • Plan ahead for Pinterest, leveraging and trusting the insights to inform content strategy, concepts, and asset development. Remember people plan on Pinterest up to 3 months in advance, so think about launching your campaign earlier to catch your audience.
  • The top attributes we see in inspiring creative are: originality, positivity, actionable, attainable and visually appealing. Use as many you feel work. Most of all, they’re a helpful reminder of the mindset on the platform.

One thing that differentiates Pinterest from other platforms is that it’s more directly linked to the “real world.”People are saving pins as inspiration for “real life.” How do you think that makes your message different from other image-based platforms?

Pinners have high intent. They use Pinterest to help them make things happen in real life. So, we’re focused on helping take our users from inspiration to action.  That means creating an inspiring space where you can think about yourself and your future, free from judgment, and where you can see recommendations tailored specifically to your interests and your tastes that allow you to take action.

Do you have any creative examples of ways traditional industries (for example, banking, healthcare, education) have been able to grab attention online on Pinterest or otherwise? 

I’ve seen some great work from traditional banks. One example is Scotiabank. They have a clear and simple message about energizing your investments in 2020.  The team built off the insight that Q1 is the biggest moment of the year where Pinners are thinking about their investments and financial goals for the year ahead.  Activating against key consumer moments is a winning strategy on Pinterest. Creative that aligns to a specific consumer moment performs very well and sees higher engagement.

What advice do you have for marketers starting to build out an ads funnel? Where can they start and what are some key things they should keep in mind? 

One of the most effective ways to win with consumers is to reach them early, before they’ve made up their mind about what they want and who they want to buy it from. Pinterest is the ideal place to reach people discover your brand early on because they come to the platform to consider future activities and purchases.  For instance, People use Pinterest to plan and search for holiday content two times earlier than on other platforms. 

So, the first thing would be to consider launching your ad campaign earlier on Pinterest than other platforms to take advantage of this early planning mindset.  After that, it’s about leveraging the right ad solutions to help them along the purchase funnel. Our new shopping ad format, for example, allows brands to seamlessly connect with users who are ready to purchase.

What skills do you think are most important for today and tomorrow’s workforce in marketing and beyond.

To me, one of the most important skills that drives success is the ability to get a team or an organization to adapt and change very quickly.  Consumer behavior is changing so quickly today, driven by the pace of technological innovation. As a Marketer, it’s critical to be able to get your team to stay on top of and evolve alongside your consumers and technologies that shape their lives.  I’ve heard that referred to as agility, and it’s a combination of having the latest knowledge, being open to change, and setting the culture and operational structure where people can make decisions and act quickly.

What does the future have in store for Pinterest?

We’ll continue to focus on our mission of bringing everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.  Our Pinners can expect more ways to take action on and shop for the ideas they discover. We believe the future of shopping will be about both discovery and personalization – two aspects we’ve always prioritized on the platform. People on Pinterest are planners and come to the platform to find trends, styles, and looks as a way to figure out their preferences. No other platform enables such a symbiotic relationship between consumers and brands and we’re looking forward to rolling out more ways to make shopping even easier on Pinterest in the future. 

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