Aside from all the usual social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, there are a couple of other networks worth mentioning every now and then. Take Pinterest for example. Have marketers found a way to use this network to their benefit? Are there any benefits? I don’t think that Pinterest should be underestimated, based simply on its user base alone.

According to Hitwise, the number of visits on Pinterest.com went from 10 million to 17 million within three weeks. Not too bad, right? Another interesting development was discovered by ComScore: Pinterest had a 207% increase in unique web visitors during the period of November 2011 throughout December 2011. There’s an obvious potential here that marketers need to recognize. But first things first, what exactly is Pinterest?

Regardless of the impressive statistics mentioned above, there’s a large group of people who either haven’t heard of Pinterest, or have heard of it, but haven’t tried it yet. So, here’s a brief introduction: Pinterest is basically an online pinboard/bookmarklet for visuals (this includes images and videos). One of its goals is to create a compilation of a user’s favorite images that were found online, or have been uploaded from a computer. As you can read on their website, some people use it to collect images for the redecoration of their house, or for wedding inspirations. An interesting feature includes the option to browse through other users’ pinboards and “repin” the images you like. This means you can share your own pinboard as well.

All this content sharing can have some serious viral effects on pinned products. Here lies the opportunity for small businesses and retailers: your products can get a lot of free publicity. Pinterest also allows images to link back to the original sources and this is a huge benefit in terms of generating web traffic. According to an infographic created by Mashable, Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+.  Furthermore, the people who liked your product and pinned it are likely to spend more time on your website as well, which increases the prospect of online purchases. For this reason, small businesses and retailers should add the ‘pin it’ button to their company’s website. You have to make it easy for web visitors to promote your products in their Pinterest network.

A few more tips on how to use Pinterest:

–          Add prices to selected images, in case you offer special promotions and deals.

–          Monitor what is pinned from your website, so you know which products are popular. You can simply do this by going to http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com.

–          SearchEngineWatch stated that 70% of Pinterest users are female. If women define your target audience, I suggest you start using Pinterest.

–          Don’t forget to add YouTube videos that are interesting to your audience.

Convinced? You can request an invite here. Hopefully you will find these tips useful and I would love to hear about your Pinterest experiences! Feel free to leave a comment.