There’s a new sheriff in the social media town and its name is Pinterest. Considered the fastest growing social network in 2012, Pinterest is a social network for curated content, allowing its subscribers to organize and share interesting and inspiring images on a large “pinboard.” Posting or sharing a picture on Pinterest is known as pinning. Once images or pins are shared, they can then be customized and even reshared to other networks such as Twitter and Facebook.  Currently, Pinterest is accessible by invite-only but that should not fool you. Its rate of growth is exponential and most of the major brands are already pinning product pictures and engaging with their fans on their pinboards. How exactly are these brands leveraging Pinterest?

Pin to win

Social networks are great at driving engagement, and running contests on social networks creates the kind of engagement that businesses need to drive targeted traffic to their channels. Just like creating contests on networks like Facebook, you need to define your market goals and be creative when running contests on Pinterest. For example, since Pinterest is all about pinning images, a photo submission contest would work well. Asking people to vote or comment on the best photo will engage users. Just make sure that any contest you run on doesn’t go against the site policy and is geared toward growing and fostering your community, rather than selling your products and services. (You can track how your company is being pinned by plugging your company name into a url, like this

Interesting and inspiring pins

Growing a brand and highlighting its personality are important aspects of any online marketing strategy. On Pinterest, any pin that you post on your brand page builds on what your community already knows about you. Pictures are great at highlighting what your brand is all about. Companies often use behind-the-scenes photos to show their communities what it takes to create or develop their products and services. Showing this human side of your business has a really attractive and appealing effect on your community. If your business focuses on current events or offers food recipes, why not create an infographic or recipe image with a link back to your site? Making the image more engaging in flashy ways is a great way to show off what you do in an easy-to-see fashion.

Pin to gather intelligence

It can sometimes be difficult for small companies and businesses to determine what the initial reaction will be to a new product or service that they intend to offer. Online social networks are great at determining this initial reaction since they allow the businesses to release their new offering to an already loyal fan base. You can do this with Pinterest by posting photos of the new product or service. Pinterest has a particularly focused community and offers the ideal commenting platform needed to gather intelligence and determine if the product is ready for Broadway.

Pinterest also allows users to pin videos and other multimedia content, and businesses can employ them as well.  As more brands join Pinterest, we can expect to see more ways of leveraging this relatively new social network and help grow online communities.

Are you using Pinterest and, if so, what are you doing to create engagement on your Pinboard? Share your comments below.