Social media is a useful tool for driving brand awareness, consumer engagement and sales, which is why I believe that all businesses should know three things: 1) what major platforms are out there 2) which platforms are appropriate for your business goals and 3) how to leverage them to your full advantage.

While my last two posts covered off veteran platforms like Facebook (here) and Twitter (here), I wanted this post to be about a fairly new kid on the block: Pinterest.

The concept is simple: Pinterest is like an online bulletin board. Users can create an account for free and "pin" photos from the web or from other Pinterest users onto their own boards. The result is a catalogue style photo board with small key word captions or descriptions that are 100 per cent searchable. Rather than timeline-based categorization like Facebook or Twitter, user pins are grouped together by interests like home décor, fashion and DIY. But, the feature that has me the most excited? Images pinned can directly link back to its source, meaning for online retailers, you can pin images direct from your eCommerce site and have the image link back to exactly where consumers can buy this product. It's the ultimate opportunity to create a true window-shopping experience and to offer your products some increased exposure on a platform that according to Business Insider has 25-million users as of February 2013, many of whom are young, well-educated females with disposable income.

The following retailers jump out as leaders on Pinterest and here's why:

(1) eBay: Mainly featuring pins linked back to its marketplace in boards like "Gifts for Her," eBay mixes it up with a blend of inspirational photos and links back to blog posts with tips on how to sell successfully on the website.

(2) Aritzia: This Vancouver-based clothing company is a Canadian success story. Aritzia has a fashionable cult-like following and its account showcases a blend of tactics that reflect its brand culture to a tee -- for example, pins feature products that link back to its eCommerce site, images of bloggers wearing the clothing, in-store displays, behind-the-scenes and ad campaigns.

(3) Sephora: This beauty giant also features a blend of product links, inspirational photos and makeup tips, but what's most interesting is that according to Venture Beat, Sephora says per-capita, its Pinterest followers spend 15x more on Sephora products than its Facebook followers.

So, knowing that these major retailers have joined Pinterest, why should you? Here are my Top 5 reasons why retailers should jump on board.

(1) Pinterest is the ultimate window-shopping opportunity: It's a known fact that our eyes process images faster than words. For visual shoppers, Pinterest's catalogue-style photo boards are filled with shopping inspiration -- see, want, buy.

(2) Images can link back to products online: Much like shopping in store, consumers see something they like and want to buy it. Pinterest streamlines and leverages this by letting retailers link back to the eCommerce page where shoppers can make their purchase.

(3) Pinterest makes sharing easy: Pinterest has a "repin" option that allows users to share a different pinner's image on their own board, helping to increase your product or brand's visibility and exposure. There's also a built in search function that makes it easy for users to locate images based on key words, hash tags, categories or themes.

(4) Tell your brand story in pictures: Aside from sharing retail product images, use Pinterest as a method to share your brand's story with your target audience. Create boards with behind-the-scenes photos that showcase your office culture and share images or inspirational quotes that represent your brand's DNA. By helping users relate and identify with your brand, you could in turn convert more followers.

(5) Referral Traffic: According to an article by Forbes, Pinterest has the ability to generate more referral traffic than Google+, Youtube and LinkedIn combined. The act of pinning and repining by users will help increase visibility and generate traffic back to your website.

To top this all off, Pinterest has done a great job of making it easy to sign up and start pinning. The whole system is intuitive and therefore extremely easy to use, so for those of you who are willing to put some time into curating a well-developed Pinterest board, this may certainly be the right platform for you.

So, my question to you is this: are you on Pinterest yet and what do you think?