NEW YORK -- Pinterest is allowing small businesses and corporations to create official accounts, a move that could be an early step toward profitability.
Pinterest burst onto the tech scene last year, appealing to designers, wedding planners, chefs and anyone else who likes to collect and share images from the Web.
The San Francisco company said it is offering businesses free tools for their Pinterest content. Companies already use Pinterest to share photos of clothes, recipes and designs.
With Wednesday's changes, businesses can officially link their websites so they are listed on their Pinterest profiles. For example, Home Depot can now verify that its Pinterest page is company-sanctioned and linked to www.homedepot.com.
Companies can also add buttons to their own websites to make it easier for visitors to "pin" items on Pinterest (using a "pin it" button) or follow their feeds on Pinterest.
Other social media companies have differentiated between people and institutional users. Facebook introduced pages for corporations, schools and sports teams that others could "like" in 2007.
Pinterest is privately held and does not disclose revenue figures or how it makes money, if at all.
Research firm comScore says the site had 26.7 million unique visitors last month, up from 3.3 million in October 2011.