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updated 9/3/2012 6:17:57 AM ET 2012-09-03T10:17:57

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In their book Pinterest for Business: How to Pin Your Company to the Top of the Hottest Social Media Network, authors Jess Loren and Ed Swiderski detail how to make Pinterest work for your company. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer advice on how to make the most of Pinterest by first defining your brand.

When starting on Pinterest, keep in mind that a company is only as strong as its understanding of its own market and customer base. You have to define your services and how they can best be aggregated to your potential consumers.

Philosophy plays a huge part in defining and delivering a product. Beyond that, assigning a philosophy to your company can help you assess whether you have a true use for social media and Pinterest. To assist you in this process, think of your brand in different ways. Consider the following:

1. If your company were a car, what would it be? Think of your boards as different car lots, and your pins as different cars. What kind of car do you want to be viewed as? Be specific. It helps you understand the reasons behind why your pins exist, which helps you create an engaging environment for why your followers should care. Typical archetypes play a role here. Are you traditional, fun, or outlandish? Are you rusty or affordable? Family-friendly? Stylish? Don't allow your brand to identify with a plain, boring car.

2. If your company were a celebrity, who would it be? When people view your pins on Pinterest, you want them to come from an authoritative voice. At the same time, you want them to feel like they are coming from a voice that should be listened to.

Much like a celebrity, your pins showcase your style and grace, and should leave your followers wanting more. Is your brand the kind of celebrity that demands attention? Are you controversial? Are you tough, rugged, or just plain friendly? Describe your business and use that to your branding advantage.

Related: How to Create a Vision Board for Business Ideas on Pinterest

3. If your company were an animal, what would it be? This can go a long way toward developing your brand on Pinterest.

Loyal, fun, watchful: These are quality characteristics with which your company might want to align. Don't be tame in thinking of your response. Identifying your brand is critical in understanding and developing your success. You don't have to act like the animal you most closely relate to, but use it as a guide to understand your brand.

Think of social media as a zoo. Pinterest's users stop by your boards, gawk at what you've put on display, and then move along on their way.

Finding clarity and confidence in your brand's personality reveals powerful insights into your organization's internal culture. This power can be directly realized through harnessing your marketing prowess on Pinterest.

4. Define your purpose. Business is all about purpose, and so is social media. Finding your niche is the first step to carving out a large market segment. Understanding your product and how it affects your potential clientele is necessary to accessing all the possibilities of Pinterest.

Many resorts and hotels have the opportunity to sell themselves by pinning images of their rooms, facilities, and surrounding areas. This method is used often for attracting guests. By pinning and organizing images on your board that correspond directly to your resort, you are able to reach out and grab the attention of an audience that might or might not know about your venue.

Related: How 4 Small Businesses Are Winning on Pinterest

In addition, the social aspect of Pinterest enables users to repin images of hotels, pin their own images to other boards, and write reviews for others to see. This capability brings together all the best features of Tripadvisor.com with those of Facebook. If you have products that can be sold, but are limited by Facebook's marketplace and Twitter's lack of striking visuals, Pinterest offers a very happy medium. If you don't have a sellable product, you need to think of your services in terms of bankability. With Pinterest, your images tell a story.

Take the time to look at all of your offerings and how these play into your other social media properties. This role, and how you have used it in the past, helps you to move forward with Pinterest. The key is to think of your offerings in a way that is most attractive to a wider audience.

5. Define your competition. With Pinterest in particular, it is important to understand and define your competition. You have an opportunity to take direct advantage of your competition's pins, promotions, or contests, while directly reaching customers.

Following your competition isn't a new strategy, nor is it a devious one. There are so many great ideas about business, so it is a good idea to keep informed on all the newest trends and technologies. If you don't already have a dedicated file or area where you store information about your competitors, set up a Google Alert to keep tabs on them, and add a Pinterest account and boards to the file.

Pinterest is a way for businesses to learn from one another and interact. Examine Pinterest by your industry and competition. Including this in your research gives you a better grasp on both your business and your industry.

Related: The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business (Infographic)

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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