What Pinterest Means for Healthcare Marketers

By now you’ve probably heard about Pinterest, the latest craze that has everyone in the social media world doing one of several things:

  • Oohing and aahing over all the cool and inspiring image boards.
  • Talking with an air of disbelief about how much time they’ve spent oohing and aahing over all the cool and inspiring image collages.
  • Gawking at its popularity.

Here at Geonetric, we’ve mostly been gawking at its popularity.

Consider these nuggets about Pinterest (a two year-old social bookmarking site that lets users collect and “pin” things they like on a virtual pinboard):

  • It’s driving more traffic than YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ … combined.
  • It’s one of the biggest website traffic referrers for retailers (check out this infographic by Monetate).
  • It recorded a fourfold increase in traffic between September 2011 and December 2011 and brought in 7.51 million unique visitors in December 2011 alone, according to Compete.
  • It has grown from 10 million to 17 million in total visits since the start of the new year, according to Hitwise.

Want does this mean to you, the busy healthcare marketer? You have yet another social media channel to consider when promoting your brand.

So let’s look at the answers to your most pressing Pinterest questions:

Is Pinterest built for healthcare?

Or even business for that matter? No, not specifically. But there are creative ways to take advantage of the channel if used thoughtfully and with purpose. After giving it lots of thought and playing around with it ourselves, we recommend using it to build brand awareness for specific services, your foundation, patient success stories, special events or deliberate campaigns that support those targets.

There has been some chatter in regard to data sharing and privacy, so do your homework.

Who is “putting a pin” in it?

Primarily women. Pinterest content is dominated by images featuring home decor, crafts, fashion and food, and it skews heavily female (58 percent according to Experian) between the ages of 25-44. This is important to know when determining whether this is an appropriate social media channel for your organization.

What can I do with it?

Pinterest is driven by images. So consider images (infographics, posters, even video) as your pins. You can place those pins on custom boards that you create (the history of your hospital, your foundation, your fitness center, even patient education) or on boards that share the same theme (see diabetes below).

There are a lot of great ideas depending on your goal. We’re seeing hospitals post giveaways and contests and we like the idea of creating boards with “how-tos” and patient education videos, recipes and cooking ideas per your fitness center or bariatric program, or images of your new construction progress.

One last tip… don’t neglect SEO. Pinterest grabs links when you pin content so not only is it a backlinker’s utopia, but lends tremendous opportunity to drive traffic back to your organization’s site. And you can also use other social networks to push linking back to your site.

How do I get started?

Pinterest is still in beta mode so it’s open to users by invitation only (to get one, check with friends or contacts on Facebook or request one on the site directly). Be aware that if you choose to join via a social networking service, Pinterest will extract the information you have from that account (that means you are agreeing to let Pinterest access your Facebook account information).

The Last Word…

Pinterest is complicated. If your organization’s brand isn’t visual this may be a channel you can sit back and watch. Also it’s alive. You have to engage to be successful. If you don’t have capacity or aren’t clear on your strategy, wait until you do. Pinterest isn’t going anywhere (that we can tell).

Be creative. There are a lot of ways to connect your organization’s brand to other boards or invent your own. But do be strategic.

Just say “no” if you aren’t going to measure. We are hyper-focused on ROI and numbers that point back to marketing successes. Pinterest is an analytic dream when it comes to being able to track referrals so create targets, benchmarks and evaluate after a determined amount of time as to whether Pinterest is worth the effort.

And keep watching. We will be!

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