Etsy is an online artisan marketplace that aims to give small and independent businesses a chance to succeed. The site encourages customers to interact with the artists and craftspeople, and to support their local businesses.

As an e-commerce site, Etsy meshes well with the image based platform of Pinterest. With almost 120,000 followers on its Pinterest page, it’d be hard to deny Etsy’s popularity on that platform.

But as opposed to some of the other retailers that focus on sharing a company mission with Pinterest fans, Etsy is in a position to more visibly attempt to drive purchases through the social site. Here’s how Etsy has taken an innovative approach to buying and selling in the world of Pinterest.

Using Pinterest for Sales

Since Etsy is focused on creating a space to showcase goods, it makes sense that the company has used Pinterest as a way to promote sales. Across the entire network, Etsy has pinned items that are up for sale. These pins link directly to the pieces’ Etsy pages; gray banners on the upper left side of the page display the price of each item.

As we’ve noted previously, one of the keys to creating a strong presence on any social media network is not to focus strictly on the business element. Etsy has a slightly different feel since the main beneficiaries of merchandise pins are independent vendors, but still, not every pin links through to a sales page. There are plenty of images that have been taken from other sites around the Web that are intended simply to inspire.

In fact, mixing the proprietary Etsy images with the ones from outside sources could be helping to spark more sales. Seeing inspirational photos could give a potential buyer even more ideas for additional purchases on Etsy.

Knowing the Hot Topics

Etsy’s merchants work in a wide range of arts and crafts. The company has multiple pinboards devoted to weddings, cooking, interior design, fashion, kids, and do-it-yourself projects. All these subjects are among the most popular on Pinterest, thus the pins are more likely to be searched for and shared.

But Etsy’s Pinterest page isn’t exclusive to those subjects. There are plenty of catch-all pinboards where some of the more unusual and quirky images get pinned. The “Stuff We Love” pinboard has items from reusable totes to a lucite and chrome phone that you can purchase from Etsy vendors. It’d be tough to dedicate a whole pinboard to some of those off-the-wall items, so having several options for displaying them is a smart choice. Remember that pinboard subjects do not always need to be narrowly defined to appeal to a casual Pinterest member.

Making it Social

On its own site, Etsy encourages shoppers to be social with each other and with its vendors. It also emphasizes building connections. Members can join teams based on location, personal history, social change, or artistic medium. These are smaller forums that allow for more personal communication outside of just buying and selling.

That social angle is carried into Pinterest with the help of guest pinners. Designers, artists, and writers take over their own pinboards to share some of the images that inspire them the most. It’s a similar idea to the teams on Etsy’s own site: creating a place for more focused and personal interactions among creative people.

It also has separate pinboards for different geographic areas, from Australia to Canada. This is another way to bring the focus back to local community members, even on the relatively impersonal platform of online commerce. This strategy is a good path to success, both on a social network and as a business model for private enterprise. Pinterest is an ideal place for Etsy to both promote its merchants and to reaffirm its reputation as a company that sticks to its mission.

Do you know a company that’s a superstar on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credit: theilr]