Good writing and content strategy makes products, and the marketing of those products, much better. When we do our jobs well, the things we launch are easier and more fun to use. We’ve seen how changing copy can positively impact sign-ups, engagement and sentiment.
Content strategy has a huge impact on our brand, too. When we’re thoughtful about the things we say—when we know what we want to say, to who, and how—Pinterest feels more trustworthy. More like a friend than a robotic corporation.
How would you describe the Pinterest “voice”? Where is that voice heard?
We describe our voice as clear, conversational and honest (the basics) and warm, playful and delightful (the good stuff). We have a style guide and voice guide that add lots of detail and concrete examples, like what each voice characteristic means.
Under each of these, we have lots of examples, pictures of celebs who represent each one, and tips to help people really “get it.” The point is to take something that’s inherently subjective and make it feel a little more concrete.
Above all, though, we want our voice to be appropriate. We want to speak in the same voice across all our channels, but modulate our tone based on the pinner’s experience. I think a big part of our (and designers’) jobs is to just have good social skills. Sometimes that means being playful, sometimes it means being straightforward, and sometimes it means saying nothing at all.
What is your approach to team-building? How have you positioned your group?
We’re 5 writers, and we work on the creative team, along with product designers, brand designers and researchers.
We sit and work super closely with each other, but each writer owns a different part of Pinterest. Mac does marketing, community and brand; Sadia works on business, developer and internationalization stuff; Kim works on our team content strategy, ops, legal and training; Evany works on growth and web stuff; I do creative directiony things, team management and mobile; we all write for web and mobile.
One of the firsts things I look for when I hire is writing skills—can they communicate clearly? Delightfully? Do they have a creative streak? The second thing I look for is personality. We work closely with almost every team at Pinterest, so it’s really important that our writers be low-ego, curious and fun to work with. After that, I look for web and mobile experience. Do they understand basic interaction design? Graphic design principles? Have they done content strategy proper? I’ve found that great writers are usually able to pick up content strategy techniques quickly.