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And the blog pound....

Whether you're addicted to pinning your latest fashion inspiration or haven’t even looked at the site, you've probably heard that Pinterest is taking the social media landscape by storm. With more than 3.3 million people already using the new social network, more than both Google+ and LinkedIn, Pinterest is a major opportunity for small businesses to stand out from the competition.

In case you don't know, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that allows users to organize, share, and comment on pictures, graphics and other visual content. Users can “pin” content to virtual pinboards, categorizing their interests, and can also “repin,” “like,” or comment on content that others pin.  It's especially popular in the retail industry and other industries that are very visual.

Even if you think your business doesn't lend itself well to the visual nature of Pinterest, there are ways for almost any company to be successful. If you use it well, customers will start giving your business rave reviews about how social savvy your brand is.

How to Make an Account

Unlike most social networks, Pinterest makes you request an invitation before you can join. Don't worry about being rejected though. Just go to the website and “Request an Invite,” and you will be able to set up a profile when Pinterest emails you an invite in a few days. You can also have someone who is already on Pinterest send you an invitation.

Once you are able to join, setting up y our profile is fairly straightforward. Pinterest currently doesn't let you connect your Pinterest account to a corporate Facebook page, so I would recommend signing in with your business's Twitter profile in case you want to connect the two. Fill out the profile information, include your website, add your logo as your profile picture and set your username to be your company's name if it is available. There is an option to hide your profile from search engines, so make sure this is off to ensure that people can find you profile.

Add Social Sharing Buttons

Add a pin-it button and a Pinterest follow button to your website to make it easy for people to find you on Pinterest and pin content from your website.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore. Use hashtags in your descriptions to make your pins more search friendly.

Make it About the Lifestyle

The most successful brands on Pinterest make it about a lifestyle, not their specific products. For example, Whole Foods' boards' include “Super HOT Kitchens,” “Sweet Tooth” and  “How Does Your Garden Grow.” None of these specifically promote products that Whole Foods sells, but instead promotes a healthy, gourmet and active lifestyle. Repin other content that has to do with your brand's lifestyle and follow similar Pinterest users to create relationships with others on the platform.

Blazonco's pinboards include “Entrepreneurship,” “Small Business Inspiration,” and “Marketing Infographics.” None of these promote Blazonco's services specifically, but they reflect the type of content that many people who buy a website or online marketing services from Blazonco would enjoy. The great thing about this is that your business doesn't have to have any products or visual content at all to be successful on Pinterest.

If You Have Visual Content, Share It

If you have pictures of your products, don't be afraid to share them! You won't get any complaints if you do it right. Blazonco for example has a pinboard showing screen shots of our websites. As long as you actively engage with other people's content and share content that is about the lifestyle of your customers, sharing your own content as well is a great way to show people what your brand offers.

Even better, host a contest and let others pin on your boards. If you own a t-shirt brand, encourage customers to post fun pictures of themselves wearing your shirts. If you own a dental practice, encourage patients to post pictures of their pearly whites in fun locations.

Get Personal

Don't be afraid to dedicate a board to pictures of employees, your office, a company outing or anything else that gives customers an inside look into your company culture. People love to get a behind the scenes look into what goes on in a businesses.