Pinterest is a digital bulletin board to group and share visually-interesting images. Think of Pinterest like a visually-oriented Twitter, with focus on the act similar to re-tweeting: re-pinning.

Users create boards based on themes (women’s clothing, baby items, travel) and “pin” any online image to the board accordingly. Upon selecting an item to add to a pin board, users can add comments or notes to the image, and share the image with their social networks.

Users can “follow” other users or particular pin boards, “like” images, and “re-pin” images to his or her own boards.

Who should use Pinterest?

While anyone can use Pinterest to create boards and pin favorite images, many professionals are using Pinterest in retail, culinary, design, event planning and other industries.

All users, but particularly brands, should take care to fill in the profile and profile image neatly and clearly. (For extra credit, be sure to use relevant keywords in your profile to increase search visibility.) Next, brands may consider adding a “Follow” button to their Web site to encourage users to connect via Pinterest.

Of course, simply adding the button is only a sliver of the equation: brands still must give users a reason to connect. Rather than spending time asking users to re-pin content, effort invested in quality images, smart and relevant boards and clear organization of board topics will better serve brands.

While brands with visually-interesting, unique, physical products, such as Etsy, can easily get away with sharing a high volume of original content, the mindset involved in selecting images to share can be an adjustment. Boldly pinning all of one’s own products generally will not garner the same attention as professionals and companies who fill out imagery associated with his or her niche.

For example, on the Pinterest profile of  Whole Foods Markets, visitors will find boards devoted to kitchens, gardens, world charitable initiatives and the like. Whole Foods, presumably, is visually representing company values and interests and, in turn, their customers respond in follows, likes and re-pins.

Brands who don’t offer physical products perhaps have an advantage on the proper mindset for Pinterest. Many service providers such as designers and event planners are finding significant opportunity to connect with potential clients through Pinterest by, again, visually representing items associated with their services.

Designer Vicki Horton, a fairly early user of Pinterest, boasts over 200 boards, arranged neatly by colors, themes, textures and moods. With over 5,000 followers, many others use her pins (images she stumbles across, with very few, if any, originating directly from her or her work) on their own boards for home decor projects and inspiration, branding Horton as a knowledgeable source for design and style.

How could your brand visually represent items, values and interests?

-@AmyGuth (or, Amy Guth on Pinterest)