The owner of Pink Slip Threads, a Pompano Beach, Fla., women's clothing store that also sells gift items, said the social network Pinterest has given her customers the opportunity to see her store without having to ever set foot in it.
"It's so visual," Reinstatler said. "I can post pictures, and it can automatically link them to my website."
Pinterest, launched in March 2010, allows users to share images they like and pin them up on virtual "boards."
People use it like a scrapbook or collage to collect pictures of items, places, people and anything that catches the eye.
Many companies are tapping into the online site to connect with customers.
"It's a resource tool that has a reach to thousands of people," said Gina Milani, who with her husband owns Sweet G's Cupcakes in Fort Lauderdale.
Milani said Pinterest allows her to showcase the variety of cupcakes they offer while researching seasonal trends that come up among clients.
"It's nice to see others' ideas and notice how certain items get 'repinned,' " she said.
With wedding planning, Shelley Cameron, owner of Better Half Weddings in Deerfield Beach, Fla., uses the site to interact with her clients by having them create their own boards to pin images of flower arrangements, dresses and other wedding details.
Through pinning, Cameron finds out the taste and vision that her brides have for their big day.
"It's convenient to have everything there," Cameron said. "Instead of exchanging emails with our ideas, we pin photos on boards. It's also eco-friendly since we don't have to print anything."
Maria Harrison, a partner at Fort Lauderdale marketing company Bullseye Strategy, suggests using the site to create industry-specific boards, track what's trending and become familiar with the free online statistics service, Google Analytics, to find out the real value of Pinterest to a company.
"To find an unpaid channel (like Pinterest) for businesses to develop themselves is unheard-of," Harrison said.
Even though the site's current users are about 70 percent female, Pinterest is continuing to grow. Early this year, it became the third most-popular social network, behind Facebook and Twitter, according to a report by Experian Marketing Services.
"Everything can be a fad," said Andy Royston, creative partner for Tropical Sun Design, which advises and helps other companies manage their social media sites, including Pinterest. "But it's nice for a business to be on the crest of the latest wave."
Let us know if your local company is posting on Pinterest. We are planning a follw-up story about companies in this region who are using the site. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your information. You can find the Herald on Pinterest here.
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