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Should Hospitals use Pinterest for Content Marketing?

When Pinterest was first launched in March 2010, it was widely regarded as a feminine space for sharing cute ideas such as recipes, crafts and home decor.

Today, it is the highest growth social network on the Internet! And it’s not just women who are pinning stuff! Well known brands such as Starbucks, University of Virginia, Dr. Oz, The Bone Marrow Foundation, Bissell and Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge are using Pinterest for content marketing.

Consider these compelling statistics.

Pinterest-ing Stats

  • TechCrunch announced recently that Pinterest hit 11.7 million uniques per month, “crossing the 10 million mark faster than any other standalone site in history.”
  • An average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes per month on the site according to comScore. Remarkable considering the stats for other social giants: 2.5 hours onTumblr, and 7 hours on Facebook.
  • Core users appear to be 18-34 year old upper income women, hailing from America’s heartland.

Advantages of Pinterest for hospitals

  • Pinterest fits naturally when a brand has visually interesting elements (pictures or videos) tied to it. Hospitals could experiment with visual resources that point to healthy living, disease fighting foods, miracle stories, YouTube videos, health books, and other compelling content. Check out MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Pinterest profile.

MD Anderson Cancer Center has 7 boards on Pinterest

  • Pinterest is generating more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Hospitals (which have traditionally lagged behind in social media) could benefit tremendously from social-media induced traffic. Images speak a thousand words and if users like the image, they’re able to double-click on it to proceed to the hospital’s website.
  • Then there’s the size of Pinterest’s audience – almost 12 million unique visitors per month which has to be attractive to healthcare marketers.
  • Also consider that those 12 million pairs of eyeballs belong to mostly upper-income women – the same ones who make the healthcare decisions in American households. That’s another compelling reason for hospitals to consider Pinterest.

Limitations of Pinterest for Hospitals

  • The downside to all this is that hospitals that have invested a ton of time and resources developing other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare may find the challenge of managing a brand new social site to be quite daunting.
  • Another limitation is that images pinned on Pinterest Boards can only go so far. Unless a user really likes the image and proceeds to click through to the source site, the hospital’s ability to communicate its message is lost.
  • Pinterest was not originally designed for marketing purposes so there are no analytics features to measure a brand’s performance. This is a problem for hospitals whose resources are tight and where any additional marketing efforts must be well justified.

Quick Takeaway

Whether or not Pinterest has staying power remains to be seen. However because it is so radically different from other social sites, it does show a lot of potential and might turn out to be the picture powerhouse of social media. Hospitals should certainly keep an eye on it, and then make the best decision for themselves and their audiences.

Over to you: Do you think Pinterest is beneficial to hospitals? Why or why not? Please share your comments in the box below.

Comments

  1. Nice balanced take on Pinterest, Patricia. It’s all the rage right now, and I agree that the idea of visual social bookmarking can be fun. I am starting to see why so many people are really enjoying it.
    I would say, if time permits, hospitals should jump on the site and start sharing, particularly stuff such as healthy recipes which make for some terrific, mouth watering images. 🙂

    The limitations you note, however, are certainly legit. For now, hospitals and healthcare brands may have to settle for simply having another place to share content and attract eyeballs until better ways of tracking performance are in place.

    Great post

    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team

    • Hi Jason,

      So nice to hear from you – thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      It’s hard to believe the growth that Pinterest has achieved in the last few months alone. It’s even harder to believe that people are not exhausted by all these social media sites 🙂 I too have had the opportunity to go in there and pin some stuff, and quickly got hooked.

      In the past we’ve seen social sites start off as personal environments. But as brands start to take interest, the sites evolve accordingly to accomodate marketing. I hope that Pinterest will go this route. It is a compelling site and will only continue to grow. So as you say, with time hospitals should experiment with it and see how it works for them.

      Thank you Jason!

  2. Dan Hinmon says:

    I’m calling it Pin-sanity! The social media world is embracing this platform with passion. Much more fun than Google+. Love the visual appeal.

  3. Jennifer Texada says:

    First of all thanks for writing this. We appreciate the love (http://pinterest.com/mdandersonnews)You are right about the pros and cons we are just beginning to figure it out but so far it has been worth the effort. We feel like we are able to measure the impact to some extent. The reason why we ventured into Pinterest in the first place is because we started seeing traffic to our site from Pinterest in our analytics. We also see a community development opportunity here.

    You are right about the time it takes to get this effort going. We wrote a plan before we began and are constantly collecting info to feed the Pinterest monster. With those tools in place I try to only spend about 15 minutes a day on Pinterest, but it is pretty addictive so its more like 20 minutes.

    • Thanks for your comment Jen.

      Keep up the good work you’re doing on Pinterest. Your boards are fun and engaging and not necessarily about MD Anderson! But they certainly make me want to check out your website, so your strategy is clearly working well!

      Keep in touch Jennifer – I’m following you on Twitter!

  4. Patricia,
    We are finding more and more organizations that want help with Pinterest. That’s why we have literally HUNDREDS of Pinterest boards we share with doctors and hospitals. Check out one we have just for Breast Cancer Awareness Month: http://pinterest.com/1800oncologist/breast-cancer-awareness-month/

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