It’s official. Everyone’s gone Pinterest mad.

Analysts are debating its long-term value, retailers are seeing increased referrals (suggested to be at higher levels than Facebook) – and even the Metro is getting involved, with a full page spread in yesterday’s paper.

But at a practical level, what’s the best way to get involved? Should you? Is there any best practice yet?

The site is (relatively) young, so people are still learning, but we’ve compiled some of the best ways to use Pinterest as a brand – with examples of those already doing so in each case.

1. Showcase your products

Kate Spade does this particularly well, creating mood boards that showcase its products within different themes. 

The label’s personality is bright and colourful, which is reflected in the naming of the boards – quite literally. This might just appear to be a naming convention, but the repetition means that the message sticks.

It’s only a matter of time before Dulux gets its act together and joins the site. There are endless possibilities for the paint maker, especially since the number one most followed brand on Pinterest is Perfect Pallette, a wedding blog that sorts everything by colour.

2. Strengthen the idea that your brand reflects a lifestyle 

Just as it does on its Google+ page, Whole Foods has realised the value of lifestyle-related content marketing. 

It knows that people don’t just see it as a place to buy food: its customers connect a type of lifestyle with shopping at Whole Foods – one that’s about health, responsibly sourced food, family and looking after the planet. It’s picked out these various brand messages and created boards to mirror them.

3. Run competitions

Fashion retailer Lands’ End ran a ‘Canvas Holiday Pin It to Win It’ competition recently where people were asked to pin up to 20 images from the website or its Pinterest page, then email a URL of the resulting board to the brand to win the items contained within.

There were just over 200 entries, which might seem low, but the high levels of engagement seen by Pinterest – and repining effect – means that the products were actually shown to a much bigger network of people.

4. Crowdsource

Though there’s no example of a brand doing this yet, there’s huge potential to ask customers to pin an image of themselves wearing or using a product, then picking the best to highlight as superusers or work with more closely to become advocates. 

Really, this is another format that could also be used to model a competition around, but it’s more valuable as a longer-term strategy for getting closer to those that are highly active, rather than reaching a lot of people quickly in a short burst.

5. Backstage access

As you’d expect, some of the best examples of brands using Pinterest are publishers.

Both TIME magazine and the Today use Pinterest to (on top of standard news-related boards) provide backstage access or yet-to-be-seen images of their teams and guests.

6. Press room 

Appropriate is again the name of the game in this example, from L2 Think Tank – which itself brings together thought leaders from industry and academia to help brands navigate the changing digital landscape. 

When curation is a core part of your business, it makes sense to use other channels to do the same.

One of L2’s boards is ‘L2 in the news’, a simple idea, well executed, that provides not only a snapshot of what’s being written about the organisation – but also a smart way to present this to stakeholders by delivering a link.

7. Coverage 

Though the Wall Street Journal was applauded for covering New York Fashion Week via Pinterest in the US, Dazed & Confused also did the same over here in London to much less fanfare. 

The editorial team used a collaborative board to pin their favourite photos, trends and clips from last week’s events.

8. Highlight your visual content

Here at Econsultancy, a large part of our coverage is text-based, but we also use graphs, infographics and video content to support this. 

Pinterest allows us to pull these things together in one place, while dividing them into groups that are far faster to digest that sifting through all of our content.

 

9. Educate 

It’s important to remember that Pinterest isn’t just about pretty pictures. People engage more with images and video, since this medium is far more memorable. 

Unicef does a fantastic job of using Pinterest to educate people about its goals, pulling together all of the collateral it uses to do so. It also has several localised profiles, which is relevant to the organisation since there are different case studies, project and campaigns in various countries.

10. Interlink 

While there’s not much point in simply duplicating effort by republishing the same thing on multiple networks, sometimes it does makes sense. 

When you add some Instagram flavour to Pinterest, another visually-driven site, it works. 

11. Use it like a focus group

There are few sites that simplify the tribal effect of aligning yourself with a brand to represent who you are and what you like as Pinterest does. 

Therefore, if you spend some time looking at those that engage with your brands, what they repin and who they engage with, you’ll find truly valuable insights in a far more natural way that surveying people.