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Candie?s finds We Heart It trumps Pinterest for engaging teens

After amassing 19,000 very engaged followers in a year on image-based social network We Heart It, Candie?s is the first to test out recently introduced native ads on the platform.

While Pinterest has quickly grown over the past couple of years as place to share inspirational images, Candie?s has found We Heart It is the better fit for the brand. Other brands investing in the native ad offering on We Heart It include Old Navy, Hollister, JCPenney, SFX Entertainment and Transamerica.

?It makes a lot of sense for us to be on We Heart because of their demo These are incredibly engaged young girls who are so enthralled with images,? said Cory Cole, social media director
at Candie?s parent Iconix Brand Group, New York.

?It really kind of filled a void,? he said. ?We felt that Candie?s wasn?t really kind of working in the Pinterest environment primarily because the younger girls were not there and were not engaging.

?We started working with We Heart and we?ve seen an incredible amount of engagement and growth. From a platform perspective, it really is the best fit for this brand.?

Resonating with teens
Teenage girls and those in their 20s are image oriented ? think of all those selfies ? and, as any parent will attest to, spend a lot of their time on a daily basis on their mobile phones. As a result, image-oriented social networks can be a good place for brands to reach these consumers.

The Candie?s line of fashionable apparel, shoes and accessories is sold exclusively at Kohl?s department stores and online at

A year ago, the brand started working with We Heart It after building a presence on Pinterest and accumulating fewer than 1,000 followers on Pinterest over the course of a couple of years.

In comparison, with very little effort Candie?s has built a following of 19,000 users on We Heart It in a year.

We Heart It reports that 80 percent of its users are under the age of 25 years old.

?To have 19,000 followers with giving it a lot of attention, it proved that girls were finding us and it was resonating with them,? Mr. Cole said.

The newsfeed
With the native advertising strategy, the brand?s content is appearing in We Heart It users? newsfeeds, with a button indicating that it is sponsored content.

Currently, Candie?s is running a campaign on We Heart It built around its spokeswoman, actress Bella Thorne, and the chance to win a shopping spree.

The goal for the brand?s social strategy is to encourage girls to buy its products on the Kohl?s Web site. Additionally, the brand hopes to gain new followers and encourage these to opt-in for direct communications from Candie?s in the future.

Users can tap through on the sponsored content to be taken to the site where they will see items they can buy. Users can also heart the content, which is similar to liking something on Facebook.

?Mobile plays a huge role in our social media strategy,? Mr. Cole said. ?That?s where our consumer is.

?Our goal as a company across all social networks ? not just We Heart It ? is to essentially make a positive impact into our users? newsfeed and hopefully that they remember the brand and become loyal to the brand in some capacity,? he said.

Advertising as content
Not surprisingly, We Heart It, which started in 2011 as a design inspiration board, is a mobile-oriented social network, with 80 percent of its activity taking place on its native mobile apps.

Its users are already actively posting images of how they are using favorite brands such as Nike and Starbucks in their daily lives.

The platform is building out offerings for native ads as a way for brands to further drive engagement.

?As our audience has moved onto the mobile sphere for almost everything they are doing, brand advertisers have been struggling to figure out how do we talk to these people in a way that feels relevant,? said Dave Williams, president of We Heart It, San Francisco.

?By taking a native ads approach ? which is basically advertising as content, it is not a traditional package of ads, it is full screen, it is immersive, it can be 30 to 50 pieces of creative - they can use a platform like We Heart It to express themselves in a lot of different ways and with a lot of impact,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York