November 15, 2012, 12:17 PM

Pinterest cozies up to businesses

And the photo-sharing service Instagram focuses on the web.

Lead Photo

Pinterest yesterday gave a clear sign that its future involves, at least in part, helping businesses share products on its platform. The fledgling social network rolled out accounts designated specifically for marketers.

“Thousands of businesses have become part of our community, giving great ideas, content and inspiration to people on Pinterest,” wrote Cat Lee, Pinterest product manager, in a blog post. “Whether it’s Anthropologie sharing awesome clothes, Whole Foods sharing tasty recipes, the Smithsonian sharing fascinating collections, or Amazon making products easy to pin, many of us have been inspired on Pinterest by businesses. We want to help more businesses provide great content on Pinterest and make it easy to pin from their web sites.”

On Pinterest consumers can share or “pin” items, such as a recipe for a Reuben sandwich. Those pins are often accompanied by a brief description or caption that appears below an image of the pinned item.

The new type of account, which for now costs nothing, features pages that look similar to other pages on the social network. However, the pages feature a verification badge, similar to Twitter’s authenticated accounts, which means the social network has verified that the accountholder does represent the brand. The verification process is part of the sign-up process for the new pages.

The other difference for business pages is that they can feature a single name. Before marketers had to enter a first name and last name, even when creating a log in for a brand such as Anthropologie.  

Marketers with existing accounts on Pinterest can convert them to business accounts on http://business.pinterest.com. The social network says that those with business accounts will have access to “upcoming features…that will provide more powerful ways of reaching and understanding your audience on Pinterest,” says the post.

The move dovetails with a similar evolutionary step by the Facebook-owned photo-sharing social network Instagram. Instagram, which was previously focused on a mobile app, rolled out web-based profiles. “You’ve asked for Instagram on the web and we’ve listened,” the social nework announced in a blog post.

The profile pages appear similar to Facebook’s timeline layout, with a large display at the top of the screen. The other images shared on the platform appear below that large dominant image.

The web profile pages offer businesses the opportunity to increase their brand reach, says Pete Goold, managing director of social media marketing agency Punch Communications.

"Instagram's creation of online user profile pages presents businesses with a fresh opportunity to further promote and grow their brand through social media,” he says. “New pages offer a one-stop location for web users to follow, like and interact with the images shared by their favorite brands, in an online space, in addition to the Instagram smartphone app.”

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