Using Pinterest® to build engagement
If there’s one thing that Pinterest has proven, it’s that visuals are powerful communication tools. Pinterest gives users an optical smorgasbord of cool things to explore, pin and share. The service launched in 2010 with about 200 users. Since then, the service has exploded; just look at some of their numbers from Nielsen’s® 2012 Social Media Report:

  • 1,047% increase in unique PC visitors
  • 1,698% increase in mobile app usage
  • 4,225% increase in mobile Web usage
  • 6,056% increase in minutes used on mobile apps

And while health care as an industry hasn’t widely embraced Pinterest, there are ways it could help promote engagement between health care organizations and their patients.

Engage your colleagues in creating great content

Like any other social media service, your results on Pinterest will only be as good as the content you post. Involve your colleagues in capturing moments, events and other useful information that would build engagement, and promote your strategic objectives.

Be sure to put some procedures in place to ensure you have permission to post images that contain other people, and pay attention to copyright issues. Don’t post anything that’s not yours as it could imply that it’s your content. Lastly, make sure to maintain privacy legislation compliance with anything you decide to pin.

Building engagement one pin at a time

Pinterest is unique among social media services because of its emphasis on visuals beyond simple photo sharing. The Pinterest community scours boards to find unique and interesting things to learn about, try and share. There are unique opportunities for health care providers to use the service to share exercise tips, general health tips, recipes and a lot more.
Just like any other marketing initiative, you should design your approach to Pinterest with the end in mind. Or in this case, the pin. Beyond finding cool visuals to pin, consider how you can strategically leverage Pinterest to build your brand and create a better relationship with your patients. Here are some examples of how to use Pinterest to build engagement:

  • Share testimonials

Telling your story is key to connecting with people on an emotional level. One of the most effective ways to do that is to share positive testimonials and pictures that capture the inspirational side of health care. Thank patients for sharing their stories with a stainless steel water bottle featuring a “thank you” graphic, or a certificate of thanks in a holder.

  • Educate

Creating a board where visitors can quickly identify topics they might want to learn more about is a great way to build engagement. Consider creating pins that show information, infographics, and other materials dedicated to a specific topic like exercise or gluten-free recipes. Encourage visitors to contribute ideas through comments. Reward visitors whose ideas you use with a custom “Expert” T-shirt or embroidered cap.

  • Demonstrate products or provide training

Pinterest is well suited for video, which can be posted just like images can. You can use video to show users how to use a product, or how to prepare for a procedure. If you have a physical therapy facility, for example, you could provide videos on how to safely perform critical exercises at home, or how to utilize the equipment in the facility. Take the opportunity to include subtle branding queues by having employees wear custom polo shirts in the videos and pictures.

  • Share your culture

This is the proverbial behind-the-scenes look at your organization. Give them backstage access by posting images of staff engaged in their work, or of some of the fun things that you do as an organization. Consider sharing acknowledgements and other internal awards. In fact, reward employees that capture great cultural moments with a pin of their own.

  • Recycle existing content

If you have great content on your website or blog, or published in books or journals, post visuals from those sources to your Pinterest boards with links back to the original content in case visitors want to learn more. Leverage all the great content you already have to connect visitors to your organization.

Measuring your success and making tweaks

Once you’ve decided how to use Pinterest to achieve your strategic initiatives, be sure to measure. Evaluating what content is building engagement and what’s not is extremely valuable. Make adjustments to your content based on what you find, and keep tracking the results as you go.

Finn, Greg. “Pinning The Competition: Pinterest’s Four-Digit Growth Is Tops Of 2012. Marketing Land. Third Door Media, Inc., 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Redsicker, Patricia. “6 Ways to Make Pinterest Work for Healthcare Organizations. Social Media Today. Social Media Today, LLC, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

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