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Pinterest is all the rage among small businesses, and for good reason. The image-based social networking site offers something substantially different to brands. In addition to the obvious way small businesses are using Pinterest -- communicating with customers in a new way - some clever entrepreneurs have found the platform to be a great way to communicate inside the office as well.

Here are 3 ways you could be using Pinterest around the office:

Vision Boarding

Sitting your staff down to gather feedback on project vision can be a rather harried experience. Lists are made, brainstorming happens, items are voted on and circled, but there is usually something missing: a visual path to the idea. Using Pinterest boards to gather and track ideas helps close that gap by allowing employees to actually see the ideas come together.

"Unlike a business plan that gathers dust in a drawer," writes Nadia Goodman for, "this collage of photos is meant to be looked at daily. Though vision boards are nothing new, Pinterest allows you to take them to a whole new level. Not only do you have access to millions of photos, you can engage followers, store useful links, and drum up public support."

Staff Engagement

There's nothing like getting the staff involved in major decisions to inspire their buy-in for the workplace. Stephanie Buck explains for Mashable Business how one expanding business used Pinterest to make their employees a meaningful part of their growth.

"Marketing and communications agency Red Door Interactive recently launched a Pinterest project that encourages staff members to contribute ideas and inspiration for its new office," Buck writes. "The board, titled 'San Diego Office Inspiration,' encourages 63 staff member contributors to pin interior design, architectural and decor ideas for the new office, which they’ll be relocating to October 2012."

By the time those employees move into their new digs, it's bound to feel like home already. How's that for employee morale?

Internal Communications

Meetings and memos; memos and meetings. These time-honored methods of spreading the word around the office about projects, events and policies are just plain boring. But we have the solution. Enter Pinterest.

"Pinterest is a great way to communicate with members of your team," writes Debbie Hemley for the Social Media Examiner. "At Pinterest headquarters for example, the team has a board entitled, 'Office Grub Shopping List' which is described as, 'Go to => click Business delivery.' Multiple people at the corporate headquarters pin to the board to keep track of shopping wants and needs."

Now, that's more fun than a pile of Post-It notes in the break room. And when simple communication techniques are more engaging, you can be sure that a greater number of people will join in and participate.

So often we think of social media as a tool for looking out at our external audience, and it certainly does a good job of that. In fact, even when creating boards for internal communications, be sure to let your staff know everything on Pinterest is public. Though general browsers may not be overly interested in your company shopping list, they can see it, and it can serve as a fun and controlled way let your fans peep into the inner workings of your office. The biggest benefit, however, is harnessing the ease, accessibility and fun of social media for engaging with staff internally. After all, they're probably already pinning on their lunch breaks anyway, right?

Have you started using Pinterest for your business yet? How have you been utilizing it?