Welcome back brand builders. This is Episode 21 of the Rediscover Your Brand™ Podcast.  I’m your host Kip Russell the social media manager at ArtVersion.

This week we are discussing Pinterest and listing the 15 ways to use the social network to promote your business.

According to TechCrunch and ComScore “Users are spending so much time sharing their favorite images that now only Facebook and Tumblr have more social media time on site than Pinterest. Who’s propelling its rise? 18-34-year-old upper-income women from the American heartland. Maybe we should call it blow-dryer growth.

According to ComScore, the average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes per month on the site, compared to 2.5 hours on Tumblr, and 7 hours on Facebook. If you don’t count sites like Google+ or new Yahoo channels that have built-in user bases, comScore’s data shows Pinterest would be the fastest site of any kind to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S.

A new study by online sharing tool Shareaholic has found that Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than Twitter. Again, when it comes to referral traffic, Pinterest is greater than Twitter.

The data is based on analytics from 200,000 publishers which reach approximately 270 million unique visitors a month.

Now, it was big news back in February when Pinterest surpassed Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined in referral traffic, but Twitter has made a name for itself as the de facto sharing network with URL shorteners abounding and real-time, concise flow of information.

Still, Pinterest closed the gap within the last month going from a .85 percent share of referral traffic visits to 1.05 percent from January to February. The social pinboard site is now trailing behind Facebook and StumbleUpon. And remember, Pinterest is still invite-only.”

So what exactly is Pinterest. It’s a social network that allows users to visually share, curate, and discover new interests by posting or ‘pinning’ images or videos to their own or others’ pinboards, which are a collection of ‘pins that have a common theme browsing what other users have pinned. Using a visual emphasis, the social network is very much focused on the concept of a person’s lifestyle, allowing you to share your tastes, interest, hobbies, and habits with others and discover those of like-minded people. It’s a great concept to build a social network around.

Their goal is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest tab that is downloaded on to your web browser its fairly easy to use.

As with most other social networks, users can perform standard social networking functions such as following the boards of their friends, liking and commenting on other users’ pins, re-pinning content to their own boards, sharing others’ pins on Facebook and Twitter or via email and even embedding individual pins on their website or blog.

The key just like any social network is to be savy and too Avoid Self Promotion while at the same time promoting your brand.

Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.

Couple this with Pinterest’s lifestyle vision, and what it means is that marketers need to find creative ways to promote their brand on the network and truly jive with its vision and user base. In other words, businesses should use the social network to showcase the lifestyle their brand promotes. If you’re a shoe vendor, a pinboard of the shoes you sell won’t cut it. A pinboard of a few of your shoes interspersed with images of places those shoes could take you, however, is the direction you should be thinking.

Pinterest is growing at record speed as more individuals and businesses are paying attention to this unique, image-based social networking platform.

Before you actually create an account and spend your time pinning make sure your business is a match. I would recommend this site for any eCommerce site, clothing company, design firm, musician, and so on. This is not a place for plumbers, electricians, and companies in that realm.

While Pinterest’s terms of service clearly state that direct sales content is not allowed on the site, that doesn’t mean businesses can’t get creative and use Pinterest to build their brands and drive revenue. Here are 15 creative ways that you can use Pinterest in your social media marketing mix.

1. Feature Your Visual Content:

2. Create a User-Generated Pinboard

3. Add the Pin-It Button to Your Website:

4. Gather Insight Into Your Buyer Personas:

5. Re-Pin What Your Followers Are Interested In:

6. Become a Curation Expert (TasteMaker):

7. Create a Video Gallery:

8. Feature Offline Events:

9. Hashtags:

10. Showcase Your Business’ Personality (Brand Voice):

11. Drive Pinterest Users Back to Your Website (Call to action)

12. Still honor Social Media Best Practices

13. Exclusive product bundles

14. Coupon pinboards

15. Educational and how-to video pinboards