It’s the most talked about social network of 2012: Pinterest. Having grown to No. 3 in the world ranked by number of visits—behind only Facebook and Twitter—Pinterest is driving a lot of conversation among brands and agencies, particularly those catering to women, who are 80% of Pinterest’s users.

Although Pinterest was in its early days seen as a site more for the high school and post-secondary crowd, it has since shifted somewhat older and therefore up-market. A full 30% of U.S. users fall into the 25-34 age range, and the 35-44 segment is nearly as large as the 18-24 segment, at 16% versus 17%. And more than 50% of Pinterest users are mothers.

As a marketing vehicle, Pinterest offers a unique opportunity to connect with your customers. The first step, as with any marketing initiative, is to define the key target you’re trying to attack with your Pinterest efforts. If you’re looking at women in the 25-44 segment, this one is a no-brainer.

But this isn’t to say that other categories aren’t rather Pinteresting as well. You’re going to want to dig into the site and do some social listening via either searches or monitoring tools. As well, you’ll want to investigate whether your target is on Pinterest, what they’re looking at and whether there’s a good fit with your product or service offering. If there is, the time is right to get pinning.

You’re probably hearing a good deal about how to get engaged with Pinterest users, such as by creating boards, pinning content and running promotions—the usual social-media tactics. But Pinterest is different from other content-sharing sites such as Twitter and Facebook in one key respect: it’s not, in fact, a content-sharing vehicle, but rather a content-reproduction vehicle.

According to Pinterest, the site has historically granted licences to users for “personal, non-commercial use.” The site is cool with brands using the service. But the terms and conditions are pretty specific—and, as explained in the “New Tools for…” link below, Pinterest introduced new terms and conditions on November 14, 2012. The most important one you need to know is that as a business, you must own the copyright to any content you post.

Read: New Tools for Business in the Pinterest Community

Sharing cool shots of your products is just delightful. Posting your own infographics? Go nuts. When you pin something, you’re giving everyone in the world permission to repin your visuals as they see fit. And people repinning everything that you post is the best-case scenario when you own the rights to the images you’re pinning. As an enticing side note, according to the Social Shopping 2012 survey by SteelHouse, an online marketing and research agency, a whopping 59% of Pinterest users report that they’ve made purchases based on having seen products on the site, versus just 33% among Facebook users.

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