Pinterest, the “virtual pinboard” website where users post images of everything from iPod cozies to beautifully designed skylights, is the hottest social network of 2012. It has already become much more than just a pretty face. The commerce traffic that it drives continues to amaze. This week Shareaholic published a study claiming that Pinterest created more referral traffic than Twitter did in February. Pinterest is becoming something of a test case in the ‘web-site vs open platform’ argument in social media.

It is relatively closed off by not having a strong API like the other networks have. One possible result is that a number of sites and apps are emerging that borrow the concept of pinning and in a sense they compete with Pinterest rather than embedding it into their systems via an API. Some examples that have been talked about: Friendsheet, a Facebook app, has been described as ‘a Pinterest clone‘ that adds similar functionality to the world’s largest social network. is the Pinterest for dating, travelers can pin their plans on Wanderfly. Then of course there is Fancy, which some people feel is an even more merchant friendly option for the visually inclined. ]The site had more than 10 million unique users in January, and cultural commentators are scrambling to explain its epic appeal.

Even though Pinterest is gaining users every day, it still confounds the nonpinning public. Everyone’s a-twitter about social media’s darling du jour, Pinterest. On the off-chance that you don’t know what Pinterest is, here’s a quick intro. Pinterest is hot stuff. It won Best New Startup at the Crunchies Awards, and it is one of the top 10 social media sites, with staggering growth in page views and a deluge of buzz. And for the ultimate tech street cred: Mashable curates an “Everything Pinterest” board on Pinterest. Surprisingly, Pinterest is still invite-only – And it’s already inspired spin-offs, including eerily similar copycat Pinspire, and the testosterone-infused Gentlemint (“a mint of manly things”) — mustaches, sports, and leper colonies (for real). For pinners, it’s an addiction.

There’s a delightful voyeurism in browsing through peoples’ visual wish lists (“I never knew Carl liked aardvarks!”). Pinterest is a place to make discoveries, organize cravings, and drool over things you never knew existed, but now, must have. The verbing of “pin” is upon us, and it’s changing the way people learn about and interact with brands. For marketers, Pinterest seems like the Promised Land. Social bookmarking is the confluence of so many buzzwords:

  1. SoLoMo: The coveted trifecta of social, local, and mobile is alive and well in Pinterest, and sharing with your networks is a breeze.
  2. Inbound marketing: In the new social economy, discovery trumps search. Pinners explore, discover, and share.
  3. Social commerce: Each pin is a visual endorsement from a trusted source. Pinterest is driving a heap of traffic to online retailers.

Types of Contests on Pinterest Best Pinboard Users create a pin board under the contest guidelines and brands select the best one. Most likes/repins Contest entrants create pinboards and specific images for users to like and/or repin and entrants win based on the amount of likes/repins they receive. Sweepstakes Entries Random winners drawn from a pool on entries. People can enter the sweepstakes by repining an image and/or following a brand on Pinterest. Establishing Best Practices It is still early days for marketing on Pinterest, but many brands are looking to invest in the platform and some obvious best practices are beginning to emerge for contests.

  1. Create a legitimate looking contest. Make sure your contest has a homepage with specific rules that lives on your official website. Pinterest is already seeing scam contests so to ensure Pinterest users get involved, they have to trust your campaign.
  2. Create a repinnable image (yes repinnable is a word). One of the first steps for promoting a Pinterest contest is to have an image that your followers can repin for you easily. It should list the contest name, display the brand, mention a prize and reference the rules.
  3. Have clear rules listed. These most likely should live on your official website or blog, but can also be reference on
  4. Support the contest with existing resources. Help get the word out through email lists, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and any other audiences your business has access to.

Four Contests Examples for Review High Point Market: A company that organizes trade shows for the furniture industry ModCloth: An online boutique featuring indie and retro-style women’s clothing. A website for searching homes for sale or rent. Mark Eric Photography: Wedding photographer in Louisiana Teacher resource website In short, Pinterest successfully appeals to the emotional and social needs and desires of a demographic that few other sites are reaching properly.

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