As Pinterest expands its advertising program to catch up with competitors in social media, the platform is struggling to attract users outside the U.S. Less than half of Pinterest users are international, suggesting that the app might be of little use to advertisers not focused on American consumers. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter both had at least 70% international users at the same stage of growth.

“How do we make sure the product feels very local for every user in every market around the world?That’s a really hard challenge,” said Jack Chou, the company’s head of product.

That challenge is intensified by the fact that the very concept of Pinterest feels foreign to many users. In Brazil, The Wall Street Journal points out, the word “pin” brings to mind a diaper fastener rather than a corkboard attachment. The concept of Facebook has much more universal appeal– explaining why Brazil generates 38% of the platform’s interactions, according to L2’s Intelligence Report: Social Platforms.

Global brands could also reach more users through regional social platforms, such as LINE in Japan and Kakao in South Korea. However, only 6% of brands in the L2 study maintain LINE accounts and barely 7% use Kakao.

To engage users on these platforms, brands don’t have to start from scratch. Rather, the study suggests an effective strategy: combining centralized content with locally created assets. Benefit Cosmetics employed such a strategy on Facebook last year when it launched a colored eyeliner. Certain types of content, such as the Facebook cover photo and campaign video, were syndicated globally, while localized elements included influencer content, editorial
 from country-specific publishers, and local language tutorials.

Benefit case study

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