Welcome, Pinterest for business.

Building visual showcases for brands.

Virtual pinboard and online content sharing service Pinterest has confirmed what has long been expected, announcing the launch of Pinterest for Business. Previous restrictions on commercial use have been removed, with Pinterest following in the footsteps of other social media heavyweights, such as Facebook and Twitter, by now providing businesses the facility to set up accounts. Indeed, following Pinterest's phenomenal growth over the last two years, it's a telling step forward, essentially designed to help businesses increase customer reach and drive traffic flow to targeted company websites. Businesses will now be able to further develop a presence on Pinterest by registering under their company name; while those new to Pinterest will be able to join as a business, existing users will be able to convert to a business account if desired.

The Pinterest premise is disarmingly savvy: users upload images and other media content, known as pins, to online pinboards, which they can then sort and categorise and share with other users. Pinned content can be added to a board via upload from a user's computer or via a “Pin It Button”, allowing users to take website images to pin to their selected pinboard (Pinterest automatically grabs the source link so it can credit the original creator), with similar functionality also available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users.

So, why should businesses use Pinterest?

Not only is Pinterest wildly popular and ranked one of the internet's 50 most visited websites (and the third most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter), but it also provides a unique platform for businesses to build their brand, visually showcasing their expertise and telling their story through images. Pinboards are valuable tools that modern companies are increasingly utilising to integrate and reinforce the key messages that define a brand. Additionally, businesses can engage and develop a profile within the Pinterest community by repinning and commenting on other users' content, and by following and associating themselves with other users and brands that can, in turn, help define their own image and message.

Essentially, Pinterest allows businesses to establish and build an online community. Among the functions offered by Pinterest, businesses can collaborate with other pinners by inviting them to pin with them on a group board, or even host a live pinning event. Businesses can also ask questions and for feedback from other users on specific pins, and can promote pins through a company website, Facebook or Twitter account. Additional functionality allows businesses to find out what other users have been pinning from their website, and learn which of their content or products are most popular. Additionally, businesses can browse feeds for what pins are trending, and then use this information to tailor the makeup of their own website.

But Pinterest is not just raising about brand awareness, research confirms it is also driving purchase behaviour. According to a Compete survey conducted earlier this year, about 25% of consumers reported purchasing a product or service after discovering it on Pinterest, with that number jumping to 37% among the male demographic.

Now business owners can actively promote their presence on Pinterest across the internet, accessing a host of buttons and widgets designed to be embedded on websites. These include the "Pin It Button", which invites users to pin content from a website; the "Follow Button", which invites users to follow a Pinterest account from a website; the "Profile Widget", showing up to 30 of a Pinterest account's latest pins, and; the "Board Widget", showing up to 30 of a Pinterest account's favourite board's latest pins.

Pinterest has stated it plans to offer more business services, and is set to announce a number of upcoming features that will provide businesses new ways of reaching and understanding their audience.

So, how do you register your business?

A verification badge allows businesses to verify they own the business on their Pinterest profile; this can be accessed in the account settings page, with Pinterest prompting users to upload a unique HTML file to their website’s server (which in turn confirms access to it). It should be noted Pinterest only currently supports top level domains, and that some blogging and eCommerce sites do not allow users to upload HTML files; Pinterest acknowledges this is a limitation for many users and is working on other identity verification methods. Once a business is verified, other users will see a check mark next to the domain in the search results.

Still thinking of joining? Well, perhaps the last word should go to Pinterest on this one, as per its term of service:

“If your boss is making you use Pinterest, you need to set up a business account.”

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