This year’s gift-buying season has seen brands and businesses pick up the pace of their pinning and ramp up their visibility on Pinterest in an attempt to encourage gift-buyers to part with their money. Businesses are curating gift guides, running competitions, offering recipe ideas and more in the hope of repins and referrals.
Pinterest is now the fourth largest driver of referral traffic  in the world, but it’s particularly attractive to businesses because these referrals are more likely to result in a purchase than Facebook and Twitter. And it’s easy to see why Pinterest is more effective at inspiring people to buy things than its other social media counterparts, with its beautiful imagery of aspirational and coveted items.
In fact, Pinterest keeps getting better and better for businesses. On 13th November 2012, the platform announced the introduction of business accounts . This is great news for brands, large or small, as well as bloggers, publications and charities. Pinterest enables brands to visually tell pinners all about their business – whether they are selling holidays, clothes, make up or food – the profile page displays exactly what they do or sell, what their values are and what inspires them.
Accompanying the introduction of business accounts was the website verification tool, alleviating any previous spam issues. Now the website is clearly displayed on the profile page, allowing people to link through to your site directly. Another essential element for businesses, particularly for retail websites, is the ability to add the ‘Pin it’ button to product pages. This makes it easy for pinners to share products on Pinterest. To further entice people to visit your Pinterest boards fromyour website, you can now easily install a ‘Follow’ button, inviting people to follow your Pinterest account and a sample board to give your visitors a sneak peek.
We have discussed Pinterest’s new ‘secret boards’  before. These are particularly useful to businesses as they allow a number of people to contribute to a board when setting up a competition or giveaway before the public can see it. You can simply make a secret board visible to the public when you are ready. It also allows you to build up new brand boards in secret, without your followers getting bombarded with all your pins. You can then release this board to the public once it has already been built up and then continue to pin in a regular fashion.
Businesses can inspire pinners to interact with their brand by inviting guest pinners to collaborate on a group board, for example, or encourage pinners to enter a competition. Pinterest can also be used alongside other marketing activity such as email marketing, where a broader audience could be encouraged to visit and interact with your Pinterest boards.
Tracking your Pinterest traffic is helpful for businesses and individuals alike. By seeing which of your pins are most popular, you can tailor your content to your audience. By checking out the ‘popular’ feed, you can also see what pins are trending on Pinterest.
E-commerce sales have already seen unprecedented growth this year with sales on Black Friday surpassing $1 billion for the first time ever. This resulted in a 26 percent increase in e-commerce spend over the same day in 2011, according to comScore . This holiday season looks set to follow suit, but will Pinterest be crowned king when it comes to driving traffic to that hallowed point of purchase? If it continues the way it has been, and with the added functionality of business accounts, it looks very likely.