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Pinterest has taken a foothold in the social media universe and remains as one of the fastest growing websites on the web, and many companies and brands are taking to the site to gain online visibility and increase sales. Gilt Groupe, a company that provides luxury lifestyle brands at sample sale prices, is taking advantage of the pinning trend in a creative way to cash in on the popularity of the social media platform. Many retail sites have added “Pin It” buttons next to items for sale on their website as a way for customers to share their products. But Gilt has taken the pinning craze to a new level in order to drive sales with its “Pin it to Unlock” feature.

The “Pin it to Unlock” feature allows users to access special deals on pinned items. Here’s Gilt’s deal: when an image of a product on the Pinterest page is pinned 50 times, that pin will then link to a hidden sale on their retail site, There, shoppers can buy the item at a seriously reduced price. The deal isn’t directly available on the retail site, so shoppers have to go through Pinterest to take advantage. It’s a pretty smart way to get fans and customers of Gilt to interact with their brand on Pinterest, which increases engagement with customers and product visibility across the web.

“We think it’s the future,” says Rachel Jarret, General Manager for Gilt Kids, about Pinterest. Jarrett says she recognizes the engagement that’s occurring on Pinterest between the brand and its customers, and the opportunity to drive sales through that engagement.

Gilt is definitely taking a step forward in capitalizing on the viral effect of Pinterest. While there are many advantages in doing so, including brand awareness and customer engagement, the obvious goal is to drive online sales. But some believe that Pinterest should remain more of an inspiration board rather than a shopping hub, and that these types of sales strategies will drive Pinterest users away. Personally, we believe that companies have been using social media to drive sales since the very beginning- and customers have understood this. Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? There’s tons of selling going on, and their popularity has only skyrocketed.

Readers, do you think that promotion of sales on Pinterest is a good idea for brands? Are you likely to pin an item you like in order to reach a special deal? We’d love to get your take on it. Let us know in the comments section below.