2020 was a tumultuous year for Pinterest. After two employees made allegations against the company regarding a variety of sensitive issues, the situation snowballed. About a month later, hundreds of employees staged a walkout in protest of the purportedly toxic company culture.
Headlines like that don’t exactly inspire consumer confidence.
In response, Pinterest recently announced the Pinterest Creator Code and a few new interesting features that aim to promote inclusivity and equality. These features could restore Pinterest’s image in the eyes of consumers while simultaneously making the platform more enticing for creators overall.
Pinterest Creator Code
The Creator Code is a mandatory agreement Pinterest creators make in order to be able to post a story pin on the platform. It’s a proactive approach to keeping the platform positive and encouraging users to post compassionate, inclusive content, instead of flagging or removing their content after the fact. Before posting a story pin, creators are asked to:
- Be kind.
- Check their facts for accuracy.
- Be aware of visual triggers that may be insensitive.
- Practice inclusion by never intentionally leaving out certain groups.
- Do no harm by making sure a challenge or call to action is safe.
A Creator Fund
Pinterest has set aside a $500,000 Creator Fund in an attempt to elevate creators from underrepresented communities. At least 50 percent of the budget will be used to assist creators who fall into this category.
The budget will be used to:
- Offer consultation on content creation strategies
- Assist with content creation costs when applicable
- Help promote content via ad credits
“For the first participants of the program, we worked with eight emerging creators across fashion, photography, food and travel, and will be identifying 10 more creators in the next few months for the next cohort,” explained Creator Inclusion Lead Alexandra Nikolajev.
New Moderation Tools
Somewhat surprisingly, Pinterest has never allowed creators to take control of user comments on their posts. If a negative comment was displayed on a post, creators could only report the post and hope for Pinterest to take action.
Now, Pinterest plans to allow creators to delete comments themselves. By offering this feature, Pinterest hopes that creators will take the initiative to keep their feeds clean from spam and other unwanted comments, leading to a more inclusive and positive platform overall.
Along with being able to delete comments, creators will also gain the ability to feature up to three selected comments on any particular post. These featured comments will be displayed at the top of the post above all of the other non-featured comments. Ideally, creators will feature positive and inclusive comments, which will help the platform’s image in a broader sense.
Finally, creators will gain the ability to blacklist comments by keywords. If a blacklisted keyword is mentioned in a comment on the creator’s post, that post won’t display to the rest of the users in the Pinterest community.
Enhanced Backend Comment Moderation
Pinterest also plans to further weed out negativity with improved backend moderation tools.
To start, Pinterest will update its spam detection system to automatically filter out unwanted comments to a higher degree. This approach will take some of the responsibility away from creators so that they can focus on what they do best — creating content — rather than spending their time manually getting rid of bad apples.
When a comment is seen to be on the fence, Pinterest will prompt the user with a “positivity reminder”, which is exactly what you think it is. Before posting, the user is warned that their comment might violate Pinterest’s community guidelines, and they’re asked if they want to rethink their comment.
What’s important to note is that a positivity reminder won’t block the user from posting entirely — it’s merely a safeguard to help users think twice about potentially offensive comments. However, we would imagine that a sensitive comment may be flagged for manual human review if the user ignores the positivity reminder.
Why These New Features Matter
Creator Code and Moderation Tools
Pinterest is a fairly successful social platform. It gained 100 million active users (MUAs) in 2020, bumping its number of MUAs up to 459 million.
Still — in 2021, user perception is of utmost importance. The Porter-Novelli 2020 “Addressing Social Justice & Diversity In Communications” report reveals some interesting findings:
- 64 percent of Americans say it’s no longer acceptable for companies to stay silent on social justice.
- 54 percent say if companies don’t talk about social justice issues in their marketing or communications efforts, they’re “out of touch.”
- 76 percent say a company’s marketing and advertising should be more reflective of the diverse and inclusive business they aspire to be.
Now, go ahead and imagine what consumers might think of Pinterest if they did nothing to address the controversy that came to the surface in 2020.
It wouldn’t be a good look.
Whether or not these initiatives manage to reshape Pinterest’s public perception remains to be seen. However, they’re a fantastic first step to healing the company’s image, which, as we can see from the hard statistics, is simply too important to ignore.
Certain social media platforms, such as YouTube, allow content creators to earn from their content directly via ad monetization. Such programs are enticing for creators — they’re basically a guarantee that creators will be able to easily generate revenue if they manage to attain an audience on the platform.
Pinterest is different. No such direct monetization model exists. Creators are forced to rely on sponsorships and affiliate marketing revenue. These monetization avenues are viable but somewhat unreliable, and they require an extra step beyond content creation in order to get paid.
The Creator Fund aims to change all of that. Right now, with only $500,000 invested and fewer than a dozen creators able to access it, the Creator Fund is undeniably limited in scope — but then again, it’s still in its early stages. Absent the introduction of a direct monetization model, if initial testing goes well, we expect this Creator Fund to grow substantially in the following months and years.
The idea of paying creators directly may seem overly ambitious at first — but Pinterest isn’t the first social network to think up such an idea. Clubhouse, also without a direct monetization model, launched a similar feature, Clubhouse Creators First.
These fiscal initiatives will allow Clubhouse and Pinterest to compete with the platforms that have direct monetization models.
Despite the controversy in 2020, Pinterest hasn’t stumbled. Its user base is healthy, and the demographic and usage statistics all point towards advertiser appeal:
- The demographic split is 60 percent women, 40 percent men
- Four out of five millennial women in the US are on Pinterest
- Four out of five moms in the US are on Pinterest
- Half of Pinterest users shop on the platform
- The number of users shopping on Pinterest grew 50 percent in 2020
Especially if your target audience consists mostly of women, you’d be wise to seriously consider building a Pinterest audience. Take advantage of its new features and tap into a social platform that shows no signs of slowing down.