The world has gone crazy for Pinterest and as of May 2014, Pinterest has cleared a path for all businesses out there in the form of it's new advertising platform - "promoted pins".  So, is this an opportunity for you to use your best visual content to reach new audiences?

In it's early stages, Pinterest are keeping their cards close to their chest rolling out promoted pins with a number of exclusive brands including Gap, Banana Republic, Kraft, Nestle and Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts - those who have existing and successful Pinterest boards in particular.  Promoted pins launched in the US on the 13th of May with introduction coming to the UK soon, so keep a lookout for them!

Here's the lowdown on what's on offer

How does it work you ask? Well...promoted pins will appear in each category and within search results with an advisory note stating the pin has been 'promoted'. However they will not feature in the main feed that appears upon sign in, potentially because users haven't yet selected their category of interest.

By placing a segment on advertising and marketing budget into Pinterest, brands will be given the opportunity to increase their positioning within search results and particularly within their chosen category.  Categories expected to be particularly successful in the outset are Home Decor, Hair & Beauty, Products and potentially Food & Drink - dependent upon how successful brands are in the utilisation of promoted pins.

How could it benefit your business?

The Pinterest just keeps growing (pun intended) as retailers are recognising the power social media can have on their brand. As of March 2014, Pinterest had 58.2 million active users worldwide, the fourth largest social networking website.  This provides great opportunities to reach a brand's target market with promoted pins.  Additionally, 29% of UK Pinterest users are in the highest income bracket - a worthy market to consider targeting we'd say.

In recent months, Pinterest has contributed greatly to sales and website visits.  Not only does Pinterest refer more traffic to a website than any other social platform, it has been found that visitors from Pinterest will spend on average 70% more upon reaching the website than visitors referred from other platforms.  As a result, promoted pins are somewhat of a business dream and can provide incredible scope for growth. Promoted pins will also appear in the recommendations feature, e.g. if pinning a recipe, a promoted pin from a brand such as Nestle or Kraft may appear, this will be done through effective targeting.

Additionally, brands will benefit from increased reach as their promoted pin with be shown to both users who are followers and non-followers resulting in greater levels of conversion when referred to the website.

Businesses/brands that are expected to benefit greatly from the introduction of promoted pins are those with a target audience of female between 18 and 50 - the average Pinterest user - although brands targeting other demographics certainly have potential to benefit from Pinterest advertising also.

How it will benefit users / how does it differ from other social channels?

Currently there are over 60 million Pinterest users worldwide pinning a huge variety of interesting snaps across subject matters.  Advertising through Pinterest differs from other social media platforms as Pinterest can add greatly to the user experience in a way that other social media platforms do not.

As users visit Pinterest for ideas, inspiration and to locate new ideas or products, advertising on Pinterest is likely to be considered as more 'acceptable' than it is on other social media platforms. This is because it supports the user search experience.  In essence, users will be served content that is relevant to their search without having to actively put in so much effort. In addition, as the promoted pins will fit into the natural style of Pinterest, users will see minimal impact to the visual appearance, potentially meaning that brands will be viewed in a less obtrusive way than advertising on other social channels have in the past.

What is Pinterest trying to achieve?

Ultimately, Pinterest has the main aim of generating ROI. However other key objectives are to create lasting partnerships with large brands whilst providing the user with the information they seek without lengthy periods of search time.

After creating initial partnerships with Gap, Banana Republic, Kraft, Nestle and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Pinterest hope the trial in the US is effective in providing return on investment for both themselves and the brands whilst having a positive impact on the overall user experience.

Although Pinterest is considered a bit of a newbie in the social media market still, it's great design, simple functionality and the unique interface combined with it's ability to benefit both brands and users make Pinterest a social media platform to watch in 2014.