Pinterest has gone from being the social network of choice for hipsters and mums to an essential marketing tool in little more than 12 months.

Its focus on striking visuals and imagery makes it the perfect platform for retailers and lifestyle brands that want to share their most eye-catching content with an engaged and active community.

To help brands take advantage of this opportunity, Econsultancy has published a new Pinterest for Business Guide aimed at companies and individuals who are thinking of joining Pinterest and want to find out more about the social platform, as well as people who are currently using Pinterest and want a deeper understanding of best practice.

The 63-page document covers best practice tactics, including statistics and case studies, as well as practical tips for getting started with Pinterest and how to engage with your followers.

And to give an idea of the potential Pinterest has for marketers and ecommerce businesses, check out these stats on the social network’s usage and referrals…

Who uses Pinterest?

  • Pinterest has more than 12m US users.
  • 28.1% of Pinterest users have an annual household income of at least $100,000.
  • There are more than 200,000 active Pinterest users in the UK.
  • 29% of UK users are in the highest income bracket.
  • According to Experian, in the UK Pinterest saw a 786% increase in traffic last year from 901,761 visits in September 2011 to 7,985,316 in September 2012. Meanwhile in the US Pinterest saw a 15-fold increase to 139m visits in September 2012 compared to 9.2m in the same period in 2011.
  • Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the US in terms of traffic.
  • Pinterest is retaining and engaging users as much as 2-3 times as efficiently as Twitter was at a similar time in its history.
  • The average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes per month on the site.
  • US users spend an average of one hour and 17 minutes on the site.
  • According to Repinly, the most popular category on Pinterest is ‘food and drink’ with 11.9% of pins, followed by ‘DIY and crafts’ 9.2% and ‘home décor’ (5.9%). However, looking at pinboards rather than single pins, home décor is actually the most popular category (11%) followed by ‘art’ (10.7%) and ‘design’ (10.3%).

Why Pinterest is good for business

  • 25% of Fortune Global 100 companies have Pinterest accounts.
  • Pinterest pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without.
  • 43% of Pinterest members agree that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify”, compared to just 24% of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook.
  • According to a study by Convertro, Pinterest represented 17.4% of social media revenue for e-commerce sites in April 2012, up from just 1.2% in Q2 2011. The data was taken from 40 of its clients, most of which are top 500 internet retailers.
  • According to a Bizrate report 69% of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase as compared to only 40% of online consumers who visit Facebook.
  • The survey, which interviewed 7,431 online buyers from August 9 to 17 2012, also found that significantly more online consumers agree that Pinterest is a place to “get inspiration on what to buy” and “help keep track of or collect things I like.”

  • Last year Sony published data which showed that Pinterest drives 2.5 times more traffic to its homepage than Twitter. Similarly, there are 10 times more clicks of the ‘Pin-it’ button than the ‘Tweet This’ one.
  • Jewellery retailer Boticca found that after integrating ‘pinning’ buttons across its website, Pinterest became its number one social referrer, assisting roughly 10% of sales, compared to 7% from Facebook.
  • Furthermore, Boticca found that 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.