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Pinterest's Growth Piquing Serious Retailer Interest (Part 1 in a two-part series)

Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012, at 11:37 AM

With photo-sharing tool Instagram off the market -- selling to Facebook earlier this year for a billion dollars -- Pinterest is now the hottest social media startup in Silicon Valley due to its rapid growth as the fastest social media platform ever to gain 10 million unique users. Today, Pinterest boasts 17 million accounts, up from 5,000 in the fall of 2010, making it the third largest social network after Facebook and Twitter, according to Forbes.

If you're new to Pinterest, it's a virtual scrapbooking site that allows users to "pin" images they like and share them with friends. It's akin to online window-shopping, with the option to flag and organize photos of items you like for later viewing.

These images are often linked to online content, such as product websites, making it a viable marketing tool for retailers with interesting, visual products -- especially those conducive to consumer impulse buying. 9.3 million retailers have taken notice and set up shop on Pinterest as a result, compared to 6.9 million retailers on rival Facebook.

Some of the more popular categories are recipes, home design, and fashion, which is not surprising considering 70 percent of Pinterest users are female. Most Pinterest users are 25 to 44 with a household income over $100K, with half having children -- a demographic for which retailers are clamoring.

Big brands recognize the value of Pinterest's tremendous web traffic and are rapidly incorporating the social media tool into their marketing and advertising strategies.

Nordstrom goes beyond simply pinning photos of its products on a stark white background, often showing product featured in on-location photo shoots. Southwest Airlines features photos taken through the windows of its planes. Major League Baseball pins images of famous ball fields, which link back to the organization's website.

While Pinterest lends itself to retailers most easily, not all retail products are visually compelling. That's why vacuum manufacturer, Oreck, features unusual photography showcasing beautiful clean floors -- the product's primary benefit. They even have a pin board (essentially a folder of pinned images) called "Furry Friends," featuring cute pets on immaculately clean floors -- a reminder that an Oreck is up to the task of cleaning pet hair.

There's a place for non-retailers on Pinterest, too. Online news source Mashable generated 20K followers after posting just 350 pins by taking its enormous volume of content and making it more visual and shareable. Interesting news stats are shown as "infographics" -- visual representations of data.

Check back next week for best practices you can leverage in deploying your own Pinterest strategy.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.