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April 27, 2014

Retailers get creative with Pinterest

NEW YORK — Target, Nordstrom and other big chains are pinning their hopes of attracting shoppers on social media.

Retailers increasingly are using Pinterest, a social media site that allows users to create collections of photos, articles, recipes, videos and other images that are called “pins,” to draw business to their own sites.

Shoes, handbags and other popular items on Pinterest are being prominently displayed in Nordstrom stores with special tags. Target, the nation’s No. 2 discounter, is creating exclusive party-planning collections with top Pinterest users, or “pinners.” And Caribou created a coffee blend that was inspired by the coffee chain’s Pinterest fans.

The interest in Pinterest comes as retailers increasingly realize the power of social media sites to steer business their way. They’ve found while smartphone-toting Americans are spending time opining and posting photos online, they also can be encouraged to spend money.

A report on Tuesday from software company Adobe found that year over year, revenue per visit, or revenue from sending users to retail sites through ads, social media pages or brand posts, is 65 cents at Pinterest, 62 cents at Twitter and $1.24 at Facebook.

Founded in 2009, Pinterest is a relative newbie in social media, but its unique interface sets it apart as a marketing tool for retailers. Users can bookmark images they find on the web under topics they create. When users pin an image, Pinterest displays any picture that is associated with it. The effect is similar to a bulletin board: Pins are organized under topics called “boards.” Users can follow other people’s boards.

The site has become popular among vacationers, designers, hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers. For them, surfing the site can be like falling down a rabbit hole: A search for “red shoes,” for instance, could turn up thousands of pins. The site also can be slightly addictive to regular users: Log on for minutes and some users wind up spending hours trawling through boards.

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