It may be Valentine’s Day, but rather than talking about the cupid and candy heart-themed festivities (or, as we prefer to think of it, the anniversary of Al Capone’s infamous gang shoot-out and the day after Galentine’s Day), today we’re focusing on the fastest-growing, lately ubiquitous,  hypiest new social network on the block. No, not Google+. That honor instead goes to Pinterest.

Since debuting in closed beta in March 2010, Pinterest was recently awarded the distinction of hitting 10 million unique monthly visitors faster than any other independent site in history.  Behind the Salinger-esque italics are a few more jaw-dropping statistics: the site now receives almost 12 million unique monthly visitors, with the number of daily users jumping 145% since the beginning of the year. Pinterest is also generating more referral traffic to outside websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, combined. And all of that with a staff of only 16 employees.

The casual user knows and loves Pinterest for its attractive, visually-oriented design and organizational angle; the uninitiated should think of the site as a place where users can put together their own virtual bulletin boards, sorted by theme (clothing, food, art, and home design are all popular board topics) but also accessible to the site’s general audience via content aggregation on the homepage and topic pages. Users can “re-pin,” like, or comment on any other user’s posts, making the website a space that, like most social networks, feels at once deeply personal but also exhibitionistic.

Aside from its rapid-fire growth, Pinterest’s audience demographics (97% of its users are female) make it a deeply compelling space for businesses. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest does not currently offer business or company profiles with distinct perks or features (though it was recently uncovered that Pinterest has been collecting commission fees by secretly adding affiliate tracking codes to links that connect to third-party vendors). Rather, marketers are having to adapt to Pinterest’s format as a creative way of engaging a large and dedicated audience. Random House is one example of a company who has worked creatively with the site, with pinboards that advertise its products as well as general literary themes. Whole Foods is another notably successful brand on Pinterest, with a strategy towards working its own products in to general, popular themes of health and gastronomy.

Whether Pinterest will continue to explode and live up to its own hype remains to be seen. But while the getting is good, small businesses are advised to gain a working fluency with the social network. These tips are a good starting point for any basic Pinterest marketing strategy.

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