Pinterest is the hottest social media site around, and women are the movers and shakers of this visual media revolution. Women account for over 80% of the site's users,  and with women responsible for around 85% of all consumer purchases , it's no surprise companies have flocked to take advantage of the site.
Increasingly, women entrepreneurs find Pinterest playing an important role in the success of their businesses. And it doesn't seem to matter whether they're primarily selling products through online channels or offering "real world" services or experiences--Pinterest is still pulling in the customers. With an innate understanding of just how this demographic likes to shop, women business owners are poised to take advantage of everything Pinterest has to offer.
"We've found Pinterest to be one of the best marketing tools to come out in a long time," says Chelsea Vanvleet, who runs Bluebird Productions , an event planning and management company, with her partner Virginia Edelson. "We create and organize boards based on each object or idea  such as "color schemes," "floral," "cakes" and any other trend we like or think those that follow our boards would enjoy.
"Many clients come to us with an idea and we ask them to join Pinterest and create a board of their ideal event if they haven't already. We tell them to look at our inspiration boards for ideas. We've even had people forward our Pinterest boards on to friends for ideas and the friends have ended up calling us to plan their event!"
Vanvleet says that Pinterest doesn't just attract new clients to the company; it has also changed the way they do business. "Clients and brides looking to plan an event or wedding used to come to us with binders full of pictures they had pulled out of magazines or printed off online. Now we hardly have a client come to us with a binder--because they can pin all their ideas to a board for their event on Pinterest.
"We've got the florists, audio/visual, and decor companies we work with to create Pinterest boards for each of our individual events. This is also a great tool to use when planning a destination event where the client is not near by to meet with and share visual ideas."
From high-income brides to mothers and grandmothers, women are sharing Pinterest success stories. Joan McCoy started Little One Books --an e-commerce store offering books, music, videos, and art for children from birth through five years old--after becoming a grandmother and feeling overwhelmed by all the children's products available. "I wanted to help parents and grandparents make informed choices about young children's media."
"We rely solely on social media to market Little One Books. We stumbled across Pinterest six months ago and I was not convinced it would fit with our business model. We are all about providing original content and recommendations, but we gave it a shot and I was very surprised with the results. Our readers and customers are pinning our stuff  all over the place!"
Joan says that although her focus was always to provide good content--primarily through Facebook and the Little One Books blog--she realizes that people are visual. "At first I thought we could just pin our product offerings, but we found lots of other topics and angles related to young children. We've had a couple of contests where people created boards around a topic and I was amazed at how many people participated."
Running contests through Pinterest seems to be a booming marketing strategy for many female entrepreneurs. Lisa Ferin, whose PR company represents An Affair of the Heart , an arts and crafts show founded by six women that has become the largest show in Oklahoma, found contests on their Pinterest page  a great way to acquire new followers and get the word out about the show.
"To help encourage people to follow us, we actually created a contest  where people can win free tickets to the show by posting items they'd purchased at previous Affair of the Heart shows onto a community board we created called "I got this at Affair of the Heart." The pin with the most likes and repins would be the winner. We captured more than 100 new followers from this competition."
Lisa's next goal is to create boards for the show's vendors to pin items so attendees can get a sneak peek at what will be available at the show. She's hoping these boards will entice women to visit An Affair of the Heart.
Pinterest is proving to be a winning marketing platform for women entrepreneurs across a wide range of industries. The key to success seems to be simple--inspire and engage your audience--and savvy businesswomen are not shy about creating a wider community around their brands.
--Ekaterina Walter is a Global Social Innovation Strategist at Intel. She is the author of the upcoming book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg.”
[Image: Flickr user Lisa E ]