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Are brands missing the mark with Pinterest on mobile?

Pinterest is quickly becoming a social media star for brands and retailers to showcase and share their products with a reported tenfold increase in traffic over the past six months. And although there are mobile opportunities for brands and retailers with regards to Pinterest, it seems as though many are not leveraging them.

Pinterest?s primary focus is on desktop, but the company also has mobile applications and a mobile Web site available, showing how smart retailers and brands can combine their social media efforts with mobile marketing. Additionally, given the site?s value on sharing content and creating one-on-one relationships is an example of how a retailer can tie an in-store experience to Pinterest.

?Brands will need to set the example for users to engage with them while they are experiencing the brand,? said Kerri Smith, senior innovation lead of mobile at iProspect, Boston.

?They will need to establish what is unique about their bricks-and-mortar presence, what other experiential efforts are they leveraging and how are they connecting with the community,? she said.

?By pinning these live experiences, they will encourage users to do so as well, creating a more personally relevant and interactive platform for all users.?

Pin me in
Pinterest is a social media site that lets users find and share pictures that inspire them from across the Web and pin them to digital boards that users can customize by category.

The site is skewed to women with an emphasis on fashion, food and home décor content.

Similar to other social media networks, Pinterest has apps available for iPhone and Android devices as well as an HTML5-based mobile site.

Once a user pins something, he or she can tap on it to view more information about it via the Web, making a mobile-optimized Web site crucial to keep mobile Pinterest users engaged with content.

Therefore brands that use Pinterest need to have two main mobile focuses ? mobile Web and search.

Making sure that a brand?s mobile search is in tip-top shape will make it more likely for users to find content to share.

Brands that have already hopped on to Pinterest include West Elm, Etsy and Nordstrom. Additionally, publishers including Time Inc. and Condé Nast are also using the site to drive users to Web content from magazines such as Real Simple and Teen Vogue.

Retailers and brands need to keep in mind that as consumers are discovering items to share across their social stream, the content needs to be optimized for the mobile Web so consumers do not need to pinch and zoom to view content.

For example, Etsy uses its Pinterest account to share items that consumers can buy via the online retailer. When users view an item on a handset, Pinterest realizes that the user is accessing the site via mobile and redirects her to Etsy?s mobile site where she can buy the product.

Because Etsy has both a Web site and a mobile site, the online retailer is able to drive sales effectively via Pinterest.

West Elm uses its Pinterest account to share both its products and images of home décor to inspire consumers to decorate their own homes. When users tap on a pin of a West Elm product to learn more, they are taken to the retailer?s mobile Web site where they can buy the item.

?Brands have a fantastic opportunity with Pinterest Mobile to monitor not only what a user is interested in gaining from them, but also how they are interacting with the brand in their daily lives,? Ms. Smith said.

In-store opportunity
Pinterest users can also upload their own pictures via their mobile devices by taking pictures of things they like, showing the opportunity for retailers to leverage an in-store experience with the social networking platform.

For example, a retailer could use a mobile call-to-action in its bricks-and-mortar stores to encourage users to share products they like on their Pinterest boards. Users can then tag the photo with metadata information to share the content.

?For mobile marketers, I see Pinterest as a connection between combining a product in its sales environment and being able to share it with a community,? said Peter DiBart, regional vice president for Metia, New York.

By using a Pinterest call-to-action in-store, retailers could give users instant access to more information about a product, similar to a mobile bar code.

Additionally, retailers could take advantage of location to serve up relevant, tailored content to users while on the go. For example, retailers could use a consumer?s location to show consumers select products available in-stores while they are shopping.

Pins can also include prices, which means that for online retailers such as Etsy, consumers could make price comparisons while shopping, showing an opportunity to drive online sales.

Pinterest is based around the idea of adding value to what consumers see across the Web by letting them share it with friends and family.

?Pinterest is not about putting all of a brand?s products online ? it is about building a relationship around the products,? Mr. DiBart said.

?You have to apply the shared values of a product to a brand on Pinterest,? he said.

Pinterest?s revenue model is still somewhat unclear, but the site could begin using sponsored posts and advertising in the future to bring in money, similar to the ad models behind Facebook and Twitter according to Mr. DiBart.

?I think it can become a really powerful tool for brands to engage with their audiences," said Aapo Markkanen, London-based senior analyst for consumer mobility at ABI Research.

?Sharing in Pinterest is very visual and frictionless and built around common interests, so there is an obvious fit for brands to connect with people,? he said.

?Advertising is a natural revenue source. It could also make money from charging firms for operating in Pinterest.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York