By Jeff Ruprecht
Just when your healthcare organization may have figured out how to resource and engage in social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, guess what? Another player is quickly gaining momentum as the next big social media phenomenon. Pinterest.
Pinterest? Sounds interesting. And it is. Pinterest is basically a place where one can “pin” items of interest (mainly visual content or images from browsing the internet) to their “boards.” These boards are categories to describe the pinned content found there. Other members can view these boards, and the social component is when items are shared and/or repinned. In its infancy, Pinterest was being used mainly as a way to visually keep track of things like wedding ideas, home décor or remodeling images, etc. A good article to learn more can be found on Mashable.
As more and more people are flocking to this new tool (over 4 million users as of December 2011), the way it is being used is rapidly changing as well. Organizations are curating boards with pins of content specific to their business, or their organization’s mission.
Of course, one has to wonder how this tool can be used in healthcare marketing to connect with the majority (82%) of Pinterest users who are women 18-54 (Source: http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/social-networks/pinterest-demographic-data/)
With any social media tool, there are dos and don’ts when it comes to “tooting your own horn.” Pinterest is no different. As a community and collective of all kinds of information from the vast corners of the internet, pinning your organization’s content all over your board isn’t illegal, but will be perceived as selling. And in social media, selling yourself blatantly is a big no-no.
However, one example of how to utilize the power of Pinterest would be to create a board from one of your departments and pin visual content to educate patients. This could be a few good items from your organization, but also other information from around the web in addition. Your specific department may want to also pin items from your hospital on another’s board that is highlighting similar content and interests. Your organization could go even deeper and have a specialist or provider create a board and pin items of great interest on their boards related to their expertise.
A great blog post by Hive Strategies highlights this same kind of idea in more detail using a birth center as an example.
It has to be pointed out, as well, that for Pinterest success, using other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter can drive traffic to your boards and pins. But to participate (as of now) one has to be invited to join Pinterest. One can request an invite but if you know of anyone who is currently on Pinterest, they can invite you themselves to speed up the process.
All in all, Pinterest has a strong and up-and-coming fan base and there is great potential in how it can be used to promote your healthcare organization in a visual way that is different than any other social medium. At this stage of the game, strategies are yours to explore and try. You may find others whose interest is piqued by your organization. If you do take the Pinterest plunge, let us know your thoughts about how you are using it or the response to it.
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