Building Pinterest’s Localization Program from the Ground Up
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Building Pinterest’s Localization Program from the Ground Up

It’s one thing to join a localization team and pick up the reigns of a smoothly running operation, but it’s another thing to build a program entirely from scratch for one of the top social media platforms in the world. That’s exactly what Francesca Di Marco did when she joined Pinterest.

Today, Pinterest has over 400 million users in more than 200 locations. We caught up with Francesca on the latest episode of Globally Speaking Radio in which she shares with us her thought process on developing a strong team around her and her views on going global. This is a summary of our conversation.

Localization versus content development

Globalization requires internationally suitable content, which can mean employing different approaches at different times. Some content can simply be localized, whereas other content may need to be created locally. For Francesca, the skill in deciding the best approach stems from the company’s strategy for taking content global. “We use localization as a strategy within our international growth marketing toolkit, which means that we do not lean on localization as our primary method of marketing in other languages,” she says, explaining how Pinterest always keeps their eye on their overall strategy.

At Pinterest, Francesca is always balancing the needs of the business as a whole with that of the local marketing teams. Her position often calls for her to apply diplomatic solutions as her team creates content to keep macro and micro areas of the business satisfied. She says, “we are using localization and globalization and content creation in order to recreate content that is suitable for our international marketing teams.”

Adapting content to build trust

Localizing content appropriately is key to building trust with customers. Francesca cites their focus on transcreation, as opposed to simple translation, as an important factor in their success. “Our responsibility is to make sure we are allowing adaptation, and not only of obvious differences like language and format, but also we are adapting content in a way that we’re truly building trust with our international users.”

This trust is integral to Pinterest’s success. And success for a global corporation is based on the huge challenge of making individual customers from different cultures feel like the business understands them.

Balancing local and global needs

Francesca sees her team as the glue between the local marketing teams and the company’s headquarters. The localization team has to represent both sides. On one hand, the local brand teams argue that the habits of consumers in their regions are distinct and have to be individually addressed, while on the other hand, the head office worries about scale and efficiency. Francesca points out they take “the position that achieving scale justifies losing some local customers in return for building efficiencies”.

Those efficiencies are strong building blocks to being able to move into any territory quickly and effectively. For example, consistency of high-level brand content and the creation of assets that can be adapted easily in a layered approach give them the best chance of achieving both scalability and local relevance.

Sentiment analysis and its place in strategy

Sentiment analysis, as Francesca puts it, is “the interpretation and the classification of emotions within text data that our users are sharing on social media. It helps us understand the nature of the sentiment that our users are sharing with us. What are their feelings and emotions—are users angry, happy? Are they sad? And what are their intentions?”

Her team provides sentiment analysis data to product and marketing teams as actionable feedback. This insight into public opinion also provides the brand team with an overview of how the brand is being perceived, which allows them to track performance over time, spot trends and adjust their approach accordingly. She concludes that “this is an incredibly powerful tool for my team to advocate for any change or any request with the rest of the company.”

Measuring results and getting the right feedback

Results and feedback for Francesca and her team come from three sources: marketing teams, sales teams and customers. Each has their own criteria for measuring success; balancing this feedback to get the right data is what helps Pinterest develop content for future campaigns.

Marketing feedback comes from their local marketing managers who “are our eyes and ears on international growth…they will let us know how the assets we produced actually did in their market.”

Pinterest’s sales teams provide feedback on how their assets are performing in “a very bold, open and honest way.” Francesca finds this transparency valuable because it helps her team assess what is working in different markets and how future brand content can be adapted for localization in different territories.

Customer feedback, which they gather through surveys, moves beyond language and provides insights into how the narrative, or story, of a campaign is performing. By analyzing this, they can see where they may need to adjust the localization process. “If the global narrative is working fine, but the local narrative isn’t, it means probably our copywriter is not doing a good job or our brief was not sufficiently explanatory. So, we have to think of an action plan and intervene.”


Growing businesses can learn a lot from how a digital giant like Pinterest navigates their way into different markets. Tune in to Globally Speaking’s 103rd episode to hear the entire discussion with Francesca Di Marco and subscribe to be notified of future episodes.