What is Pinterest? It’s a virtual pinboard and a social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. It’s also hands down the hottest new social network out there.

Unlike other flash-in-the-pan social networks, Pinterest is definitely worth paying attention to–and not just by visually-oriented business owners like retailers, but B2B and B2C businesses as well.

Before you groan that it’s just another way to waste time on the web, there are a few things you need to know about how this tool can work some incredible marketing magic for YOUR business in 3 main areas: branding, traffic and conversion.

If you’re stumped about how to begin benefiting, here are some ideas for you:

1) Use it to showcase visual elements from your business: info product graphics, striking images from your best blog posts, infographics related to your industry and testimonials.

2) Use it to give people a peek behind the scenes of your business: perhaps photos of yourself with clients, snapshots from live events, your workspace or team members.

3) Use it to grab traffic: include your business name in your username, add your URL to your profile, fill out the About section thoroughly, connect your account to Facebook and Twitter and link business-related visuals to your site or a landing page, particular blog posts or product pages. Also, don’t forget to include your business name or URL in your pin and/or board descriptions.

Just as with other social networks, build goodwill and engagement by commenting on, liking and re-pinning others’ content and encouraging others to follow and connect with you on Pinterest.

Your to-do? If you are not on Pinterest already, you’ll need to go to Pinterest.com and request an invite. Once you’re there, create your profile and begin strategically creating boards using the tips I’ve just shared. Then, use the feature that allows you to follow your Facebook and Twitter friends automatically and begin having fun!

If you enjoyed this tip, leave me a comment…and please feel free to share your thoughts about Pinterest! (Oh, and I’d love to connect with you there as well: Christine on Pinterest)

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