Pinterest is taking the social media community by storm in 2012, growing its membership at a faster rate than any other social network. The rapid growth has made it the third-most-popular social network, behind only Facebook and Twitter.

The quick growth has caught many marketers off guard, so let’s take a look at why Pinterest absolutely should be pinned on your marketing board for potential new tactics.

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that lets users collect and organize online images and explore other users’ images. Retailers add “PinIt” buttons to their website’s product pages and create image boards to be followed.

Users create their own boards and then use a website’s PinIt button (or their own PinIt button on their web browser) to pin favorite photos onto their boards.

For every image, Pinterest makes sure to give credit to the original source and whoever shares it, so both can get the referral traffic. The most popular pins are for food and drink recipes, DIY projects and tutorials, fashion, home decor and weddings.

Pinterest includes most of our favorite social media tools. Users can follow other users’ boards, like and comment on their pins, add a tag to a pin, and re-pin (or share) a pin. Let’s look at some of Pinterest’s selling points for marketers:

• Strong engagement — Sony recently reported that clicks on its shopping website’s PinIt button outnumbered Twitter clicks by more than 10 to one. Once on Pinterest, stats from digital marketing agency Modea show, users average almost four minutes more per visit than Facebook users.

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