Pin It

5 Ways Retailers can Benefit from PinterestSocial networking site Pinterest has exploded in popularity over the past year. Despite being an invite-only social media community, Pinterest saw a 4,000% increase in site visits in just six months and reached over 4 million active users in the latter half of 2011, according to The Next Web. While Pinterest began as a community for individual users, retailers are beginning to recognize its potential. Etsy, the popular online marketplace for small businesses, recently made headlines by incorporating the “Pin It” button on its listings pages.

If you’re a retailer looking for inspiration, here are 5 ways you can leverage Pinterest:

1. Button It

Even if your brand isn’t currently on Pinterest, you can make it easy for your community to share your content. Take a page from Etsy and add the “Pin It” button to your website and blog, alongside your other social sharing buttons. You can also include a custom image to make your content more Pinterest-friendly, like we did above!

2. Search for Mentions

As with any other social media site, your content is probably already being shared. Do a quick search of your brand to see what types of pins show up. You can also find out what content people have pinned from your website by adding, “/source/” and your website address to the Pinterest homepage URL. For example, if we want to look at what content people have shared from Mashable, we can enter http://pinterest.com/source/mashable.com.

3. Find Trends

Pinterest is the perfect place to see a real time visual representation of what’s trending. The site allows you to sort pins by category, including Design, Food & Drink, Apparel, and Technology. Depending on what kind of retailer you are, you can easily identify what products in your category seem to be most popular and use it to your advantage.

4. Start Pinning

If you are new to Pinterest, start by thinking about what inspires you as a brand. Bergdorf Goodman has some creative boards that showcase the brand’s personality, such as “The Books on our Shelves.” They also do a great job of presenting their own products in a helpful way, with boards themed around clothing trends and holiday gifts. Just keep in mind that blatant self-promotion is frowned upon, so be sure to share a healthy mix of content.

You can also add other users as contributors to your boards. For example, allow employees to add pins to your boards to make them more engaging and personable.

5. Campaigns

Once you become more comfortable, find creative ways to leverage Pinterest for your campaigns. For its “Pin It to Win It” contest, Lands’ End asked fans to create boards with their favorite Land’s End products for the chance to win a $250 gift card. As mentioned above, Pinterest discourages self-promotion, so the key is encouraging your community to promote your brand for you.

These are a few tips for how you can leverage Pinterest for your retail brand, but the possibilities are endless. As Pinterest continues to grow in popularity with brands and consumers alike, we can expect to see more creative uses of this social sharing platform.

Do you have any other suggestions on how retailers can use Pinterest? Have you seen other campaigns from brands that incorporate Pinterest? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

Click here for a great beginner’s guide to Pinterest from the folks at Mashable.