Pinterest drives more sales and more new customers than Facebook, according to a study of social media traffic by

The jewelry and accessories retailer compared engagement statistics from Facebook and Pinterest visitors to see how their behaviour differed.

It found that after integrating ‘pinning’ buttons across its website Pinterest has become its number one social referrer, assisting roughly 10% of sales, compared to 7% from Facebook.

Furthermore, Pinterest users spend more than twice as much as Facebook users ($180 vs. $85), and the site drives higher numbers of new customers.

86% of visits from Pinterest are new to Boticca compared to 57% from Facebook.

However Pinterest users didn’t trump Facebook in all areas of e-commerce, as the social upstart has a 51% lower conversion rate than Facebook.  

And looking at time spent on site and the number of different pages visited, Pinterest users are less engaged than Facebook users.

Boticca CEO Kiyan Foroughi said he puts Pinterest’s impact on sales down to users’ disposition and demographics:

On Pinterest users are in discovery mode, looking for the best, most interesting products and designs the web has to offer. On Facebook, people are primarily looking to socialise with friends and consume video and photo content.

Boticca sells unique accessories from independent designers, so the visual product discovery offered by Pinterest lends itself better to sales.

For an ecommerce site such as ours focused on fashion accessories, Pinterest’s demographic, which is mostly female, affluent and in the US (where we already make 30% of our sales) is ideal. The better matching demographic results in higher sales.

But as Pinterest focuses on sharing images, it is surprising that engagement is lower than for Facebook users. You would perhaps expect Pinterest users to browse more products looking for more images to share.

But Foroughi says that a majority of Pinterest users will immediately leave Boticca if the pinned item they initially clicked on is not of interest.

That results in higher bounce rates and lower average time on site and conversion rates than other channels, therefore less engagement.

He said the company has put in place several methods that have helped to mitigate this, including pop-up offers for Pinterest users with a special offer in exchange for subscribing to a newsletter, as well as retargeting.

Boticca’s success in driving sales using Pinterest will be a useful case study for the social network as it seeks to monetise its service. And it’s not an isolated event.

Last month we reported statistics from marketing technology company Converto which showed that Pinterest represents 17.4% of social media revenue for e-commerce sites, a figure that was predicted to grow to 40% by the end of Q2 2012.

We have also highlighted 11 ways to use Pinterest as a brand.

But as we have seen with a study from Eventbrite, Facebook still remains a powerful sales advocate in the event industry with each Facebook share worth £2.25 compared to £1.80 on Twitter (although Pinterest wasn’t included in that study).

And as Foroughi says, the real challenge that remains for e-tailers is making sure new visitors from Pinterest continue to become new conversions.

There are ways of doing this, such as optimising landing pages and using targeted offers, details of which can be found in Econsultancy’s Conversion Rate Optimisation Report.

But it will be interesting to see whether traffic from Pinterest retains its value to e-tailers as the social network evolves and ramps up efforts for monetisation.