Marketers know that not every idea is publish-ready. Before an idea can become a social media campaign, it needs time to develop and should be discussed with the rest of your social team first. While this collaboration often takes place in the office or online, it rarely happens on an actual social network because once it goes live, there’s no taking it back. But Pinterest is making it easier for you to develop these ideas on its platform with secret boards.

Originally launched in 2012, Pinterest secret boards are only visible to you and anyone you invite to collaborate. Pins added to these boards won’t appear anywhere else on Pinterest — not in the category sections, search results, your followers’ home feed, or even your own home feed. At first, accounts were only given three secret boards, which was later upgraded to six. Now Pinterest has announced that members can create an unlimited number of these boards.

What’s great about additional secret boards is that they can be used by a single person or a team of collaborators. So marketers working on the next big campaign idea can create a board and invite the rest of their team to join without giving anything away to the public until they’re ready. But that’s just one example of how businesses can take advantage of the privacy features on Pinterest. Pinners have been using secret boards in all sorts of interesting ways. Let’s take a look.

Plan Corporate Events

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Because of Pinterest’s visual nature, it’s a great platform for planning. From decor to vendors, secret boards can help you plan your next company retreat, ambassador experience, holiday party, or even a booth at SXSW.

If the event is internal, public planning might confuse your audience. Additionally, most people probably don’t care about the color of streamers or the catering company you’re considering. Likewise, if you’re planning a customer experience or conference presence, you don’t want to give away all of your secrets before guests arrive.

Use secret boards to effectively organize the planning stages of your event and strategize marketing for it, when appropriate.

Coordinate Product Launches

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Many brands use pinboards to highlight a specific product or element of their business. While this is strongly encouraged, you might find it more valuable to design a Pinterest campaign before unveiling it to the public. So instead of launching a new board with only one or two pins, create a secret board so you can populate it with several pins first. That way when you finally unveil it, visitors will have a lot more content to interact with.

Secret boards are also a great way to stay in touch with your street team or brand ambassadors. You can give them access to exclusive content and sneak-peeks before sharing it with your larger audience.

Gain Competitor Intelligence

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While social media has given brands a better way to connect with customers, it has also made it easier to track competitors. Secret boards are a great way keep a watchful eye on your competition because you can pin their content without them knowing. Create a secret collection of pins — from hot products to popular blog content — that you can use for insight and inspiration.

Profile Your Customers

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In order to successfully market a product you really have to know your customers. Pinterest boards hold a lot of secrets, even the public ones. If you’re looking to reach a specific target audience, you can get powerful insights into their business, values, and interests just by looking at their Pinterest profile.

Additionally, if you’re just starting out and haven’t defined your target yet, you can use secret boards to create personas. Develop ideal customers by pinning photos that represent each one, as well as activities, products, or colors that go along with each one. From there, take a step back and ask yourself if any patterns or trends emerge. Use those profiles to help you build your target audience.

Inspire Your Team

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Pinterest is a powerful source of inspiration and ideas for any department. Whether you’re looking for content to share or just need some team inspiration, you can find it here. Social media managers can use secret boards to collect shareable content or to brainstorm original ideas. Executive teams can collaborate on new strategies or implementations. Customer service can create a secret board with tried and true tips. Accounting can pin ideas for new software or techniques.

There’s something here for everyone, but before you can take advantage of the privacy you need to create a secret board. This can be done by clicking your name at the top of Pinterest and selecting Your Boards. From there, scroll to the bottom of the page (below your public boards) and click Create a Secret Board. Next choose a name and category, and make sure that the secret setting is switched to Yes.

While you can take a secret board and make it public, you can’t take an existing public board and make it private. To make a secret board public, go to the board and click Edit. Next, turn the secret setting from Yes to No. You’ll be asked to confirm the switch when you save changes.

[Image credit: Thomas Leuthard, Ernst VikneTony Fischer Photography, JD Hancock, Serge Saint]