Pinterest joined the ever-growing ranks of social media and curation platforms when it launched in 2010, but filled a niche which other sites have failed to match.

Pinterest is essentially a visual discovery tool, explained the company's head of international, Matt Crystal, at the Digital Innovators' Summit in Berlin yesterday, encouraging publishers to take advantage of the growing number of users.

"The notion of saving pins to a board is powerful," he said. "It signals consumer intent and starts a chain reaction of sharing."

For those new to the platform, Pinterest allows users to create collections of images or articles from around the web in 'boards' specific to a research topic or area of interest.

A pinned article about running a marathon can appear on a range of different boards relevant to each individual, explained Crystal. So a pin about running a marathon may appear on one person's general fitness tips board, someone else's board for New Year's Resolutions, and yet another's about turning 40.

Each pinned image or article links back to the original source and, for journalists and publishers, the numbers are becoming hard to ignore.

At present there are 30 billion pins on 750 million boards, a total growing by 25 per cent each quarter, he said, as the 70 million users continue to grow.

Two thirds – 20 billion – of those pins are from professional destinations, he said, making it highly likely that a publisher's content has already been added to Pinterest in some form, even if they aren't aware of it.

Crystal shared his tips for publishers for making the most of the platform and engaging the audience where, more likely than not, they are already talking about stories.

1 Get the pin button – In a similar way to the share button for Twitter or Facebook, the Pinterest button lets readers automatically pin an image or article to one of their boards.

2 Add pins and boards to your profile – Yes, users can add their own pins but publishers and journalists can guide their audience towards topics and an "authentic representation of the brand", said Crystal.

3 Promote your Pinterest presence – Publishers should already be pushing their pages and profiles on other platforms, such as SoundCloud or YouTube for example, so Pinterest should be no different.

"Many of your readers are likely on Pinterest already," Crystal said, "so let them know you're on the platform."

4 Verify your website – Linking a website to a Pinterest profile not only lets regular users know that the profile is legitimate but also opens up the in-house analytics, so publishers can see more deeply into the effect their pins are having.

5 Use 'rich pins' – Rich pins "have additional metadata to drive increased engagement", Crystal said, and currently come in six forms.

  • Article pins include a headline, author and story description.

  • Place pins include a map, address and phone number – useful for city and travel guides, said Crystal.

  • Product pins include real-time pricing, product availability and information on where to buy.

  • Recipe pins include ingredients, cooking time and serving information.

  • Movie pins have information about cast, crew members and reviews.

  • App pins include an install button to take the user to their app store.

"People discover your content and save it in a context which is unique and personal to them," said Crystal, and having doubled its user base in 2014, Pinterest looks to be another space where many publishers already have an audience to engage with.

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