Pinterest boards from Bergdorf

Used until now primarily by women, the audience for Pinterest has now widened in recent weeks as its name has been bandied about on other social networks like Twitter.

So, what is

In its own words, the site is “a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Now this is where Facebook might show some concern, because it’s as though someone looked at Facebook’s much-lauded LIKE feature and said, “let’s just have a site with that and not fill it with crapplications and notifications each time someone eats a biscuit.

The idea is simple and sound. You spot something on the web somewhere that you like and you click the “Pin It” button to add it to one of your pinboards on your Pinterest account. People who are following you, or casual searchers, can then see what you’ve pinned and comment on it or add it to their own pinboards (re-pinning).

How can brands benefit from Pinterest?

Some brands have already created their own channels, sharing grouped collections of their products. Take, for example, Travel Channel, Gap, Land’s End and NBC’s The Today Show. Fans and followers can then pick and choose things they want to share with friends, without even visiting your website. For niche retailers, this could be a great way to develop an online catalogue without the expense of printing and distribution.

You can also add a Pin It button to your website, allowing people to pin a page they like, but Pinterest users also have the opportunity to add a bookmark to their browser which works for most pages they visit.

Pin It

Gamification and customer interaction

Some brand owners are showing some great initiative with Pinterest, gamifying their use of it. Land’s End, for example, ran a “Pin it to win it” campaign on its website, inviting readers to Pin things they liked in order to win $250 of vouchers.

The mechanism for the promotion wasn’t too hard. First you had to be a Pinterest member, then you had to create your own Land’s End Board for either men’s or women’s fashion. Finally you had to go to the Land’s End Pinterest channel and re-pin items you liked on to your board.

Land’s End was able to track entries because re-pins are reported to the owner. The promotion was not only a great way to get followers but also provided some good customer interaction.

Does it work for every site?

I’ve been testing it by pinning content from a range of websites – here’s my channel. It generally works for most things, but if you have, say, a blog post with no large image it may tell you there’s nothing to pin. Also, while you can pin a photo album from Google Plus, you can’t do the same with a Facebook photo album.

Read more: Why Every Company Should Use Pinterest