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What's With All the Interest in Pinterest? Here are six reasons you might want to try the wildly popular online pinboard.

By Kara Ohngren Prior

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you tried Pinterest yet? It's one of the hottest things in social media right now. In fact, the online social pinboard is growing faster than Facebook when it was its size, with more than 7 million unique visitors in December.

The beauty of Pinterest lies in its simplicity. The site harnesses the power of the personal referral. By creating topic-specific pinboards, you can organize and share the things you love with others, in a visually pleasing way. You also can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new foods, adventures and opportunities, and to get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Here are six reasons to use this creative social bookmarking tool.

1. Promote your Business or Blog

If you're a small-business owner or if you moonlight on the side, Pinterest is a useful tool to promote new products and interact with potential customers. You can create pinboards for the types of products you sell (with links back to your website) and add boards like "Things We Love," "Sale Items" or "Gift Ideas." But it's important to remember not to make your Pinterest profile all about your business.

Give your customers a reason to follow you by creating boards that they'll find useful, such as "Insider Tips" or "Top Trends." You can also host contests like "Pin it to Win It," where your customers are rewarded for adding your products to their pinboards. Etsy, the online hub for handmade items, is already garnering lots of interest on Pinterest, with more than 46,000 followers and 22 vibrant boards. In addition, many Etsy sellers share creations on Pinterest, too. If you're a blogger, be sure to add a pin to your blog or website to allow easy sharing of your content.

Related: 10 Steps to Start on Twitter

2. Decorate your Home

You can use Pinterest to collect inspiration for your latest home design project or to build your dream home. Creating a "DIY Home D?cor" board is fun, too. Dagmar Bleasdale, a mom, blogger and entrepreneur from New York, loves organizing her home remodeling ideas into specific category boards, such as "Shabby Chic," "Living Room," "Cool Use of Color," and "Cool Houses." You can then share your home d?cor boards with family and friends to get their input using the Pinterest comments function

3. Find Dinner Inspiration

Pinterest not only makes it easy to keep must-try recipes in order, but it's also a great tool to help get you out of the midweek dinner rut. Discovering interesting new dishes is easy. In the mood for salmon? Search for it on Pinterest and tons of ideas will pop up from other users. It's fun to create different boards for different occasions and different kinds of foods, too.

For instance, Annalise Sandberg (a.k.a "Completely Delicious" on Pinterest) of Salt Lake City, Utah, has created eclectic chow boards to cover all bases, including "Baking Inspiration," "Dinner Inspiration," "From My Kitchen" and "Booze Inspiration." You can also collect all the recipes you'd like to make that week onto a single menu board. Or if you just like looking at pretty food photography, Pinterest will keep you entertained for hours.

4. Create a Collector's Showcase

As a hobbyists or special-interest enthusiast, you can pin photos of your personal collection and display them on the striking Pinterest interface. Or you can collect images from around the web and create a wish list board. For example, Trina Prenzi of Midland, Mich., hosts several collection boards, including "Aprons," "Beautiful Bottles," "Birdhouses" and a "Stamp Collection." The site's also a great way for crafters and DIY-ers to showcase their wares online. So whether you love leopard print, like to knit potholders, or enjoy collecting Star Wars figurines, Pinterest is a great place to show off your treasures.

Related: 5 Facebook Apps for Job Hunters

5. Throw a Party

Stay organized by creating a board filled with decorating and food ideas for your next party or event. If you have a theme in mind, it's easy to pin ideas as you're perusing the web and collect them in one place. Graphic designer and blogger Amy Locurto's "Party Ideas {By Party People}" board is chock-full of unique entertaining ideas. You can also make boards of gift ideas for friends. Pinterest is great for wedding planning, too -- it can replace that massive binder that's packed with torn-out pages from bridal mags.

6. Plan a Travel Itinerary

Whether you're dying to visit Italy, Alaska or St. Louis, Pinterest can help keep all your travel plans in order. You can pin reviews of great restaurants, sights and hotels. Create a "Travel Bucket List" board of places you'd love to visit one day. Also, be sure to pin your photos once you return from your vacation to make sure all your friends know what a wonderful time you had. Artist/blogger Ivy Newport has stunning boards dedicated to "Greece," "Italy," By the Seaside" and general "Travel." Or create a "Mental Vacation" board so you can get away any time you'd like.

Ready to get started? You can visit the site and request an invitation, or get an invite from a friend who's already signed up.

Related: The Online Games Grownups Play

Kara Ohngren is a freelance writer and part-time editor at YoungEntrepreneur. Her work has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Huffington Post and Business Insider.

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