When you hear the phrase “social media,” the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook, while the second is more than likely Twitter. You’ve probably heard about Pinterest, but may not know the benefits of starting your own account. Over the next few days, I will be explaining what Pinterest is, how to start your own account, and how Pinterest can be used to not only promote yourself, but your business as well.

As of January 2012, Pinterest became the fastest website in history to reach 10 million unique visitors. This hot new social network allows’users to share, curate, and discover new interests by ‘pinning’ photographs and videos  not only to their accounts, but to the accounts of others as well.

There are two main components of each Pinterest account, these being the ‘pins’ and the ‘pinboards.’ A ‘pin’ is considered to be any photograph or video which is added to Pinterest; while a ‘pinboard’ is a set of theme based pins. For instance, if you are an avid photographer, you could create a “My Photography” pinboard, where you would upload or ‘pin’ your favorite works. You also have the option to ‘repin’ somebody else’s pin; similar to retweeting a tweet, or sharing a photo on facebook, you repin items that interest you and your direct network. Repinning other user’s pins and engaging in their posts are the two best ways to grow your Pinterest network. 80% of the pins you see on Pinterest are in fact repins!

Starting a Pinterest account is very simple, though it is done on an invatation-only basis. If you would like to start an account, go to  www.pinterest.com and request an invation. Once your request has been granted, you will receive an email with a link of how to finish creating your account. If you have a friend with a Pinterest account, they can actually invite you to join, which would make the process much quicker than waiting for your personal request to be granted.

If you are creating your Pinterest account for a business, I would recommend registering your account with the same email you use for your Twitter account instead of the one you use for Facebook. You will not only be able to differentiate yourself from the rest of Twitterverse (many people do not tweet images); but Pinterest does not yet offer a connection between your account and your Facebook business page.

Once your account is activated, you will want to personalize your account under the settings tab. I would recommend using your company name as your username, filling out the rest of your profile with your company description, logo, website link, and adding the “pin-it” button to your tool bar. The “pin-it” button makes it easier for you to repin items you find on the web, while backlinking them to where they came from. Check out Canvas Direct’s Pinterest page to get some inspiration for your own: www.pinterest.com/CanvasDirect.

In the next post, we will discuss how to optimize your Pinterest account for business, as well as how beneficial it can be!