Pinterest, the latest craze to sweep the Internet world—particularly, with women—is an invite-only social platform that launched in the beginning of 2010. Currently three million users strong, the site is generating a lot of buzz with it’s virtual bulletin boards where you can “pin” and organize web images—then share them with other users who have similar interests. One of the unique elements of the website is that these images are linked to the URL’s they originated from, so you know where it came from and can visit the site for more details.

I am currently using the site to gather ideas for my wedding—but, with categories like architecture, art, design, food and drink, humor, sports, travel, and men’s and women’s apparel—there is a category that fits just about everyone’s “pinterests.”

From a marketing standpoint, this is a godsend because the site provides a multi-faceted platform allowing businesses direct access to potential and current customers.

Here are just a few ways Pinterest can be used:
Product Promotion
Retailers like Nordstrom, Gap, and Land’s End have created makeshift online catalogs to advertise their latest products.

Market Research
Companies can follow users to find out what interests them and track what is trending.

Relationship Building
One of the key principles to keep in mind when your business is engaging in social networking is the 80/20 rule. No more than 20% of your posts should directly talk about yourself and your product or service—you do not want to inundate customers with pushy sales pitches . Instead, you should focus on the other 80%—engaging people in conversation—that’s why it’s called “social” media. In the case of Pinterest you can offer your followers tips and insight—make a connection on a more personal level. If you’re a company that specialized in home decor, offer up ways that people can decorate for the holidays on a budget. Or if you’re a clothing retailer, share the top trends of the season. Provide compelling content so that people will remember you and the sales will come naturally.

You may ask, “Why is this better or different from other social media efforts I already make?”. First of all, you have a direct connection to demographics like the 20-something female and Moms—both of which have tremendous buying power in certain retail sectors. Secondly, with how complex Facebook is becoming for some of it’s members, the simplicity of Pinterest with it’s basic visuals is very refreshing and in turn, engaging. And third, it provides a way for people to go back again and again and look at what you post. With Facebook, it can be insanely difficult to track down a post that was put up even a few weeks ago—with Pinterest you have all of your visual representations in one organized place.

I could go on and on touting how wonderful I think Pinterest is, but I invite you to check it our for yourself—and be warned, the site is insanely addicting…I know I’m only one of many in need of “pintervention.”

Click here to check it out: