It’s true that, no matter what a company’s mission is, social media platforms can enable meaningful engagement with many of its core audiences. However, it’s also true that different social media platforms offer their own ways in which the user’s message can be distributed. Tools range from image and video sharing (Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube) to social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn) to microblogging (Tumblr, Twitter).
One of the more interesting new social platforms to gain popularity, even in the healthcare industry, is Pinterest. The platform is focused around a visual dashboard for users to collect various images and links, organizing each by categorized “boards” and sharing them with others to add to their own collections. While Pinterest has recently been one of the fastest growing social platforms on the planet, it has often been viewed as a platform frequented by soccer moms and sorority girls. Despite the stereotype, Pinterest is also gaining increased popularity among healthcare organizations. This isn’t too surprising when you consider that health-related boards are among the most common, including diet and exercise.
But healthcare organizations are finding different creative uses for this new platform based on their own individual organizational and digital strategies. The varied uses and assumed strategic roles of healthcare-focused Pinterest accounts often represent a range between soft “audience engagement” goals and more analytics-driven SEO goals. Here are three Pinterest-using healthcare companies, each of which utilizes the platform in their own ways.
BI’s Pinterest account appears to be used to support the company’s overall corporate visibility and thought leadership rather than direct audience engagement. What is unique about BI’s Pinterest is that most of the images included are uploaded, rather than pinned from an external link. Some boards contain photos from recent events, while others focus on BI’s work, or serve to educate the audience on diseases which are relevant to BI’s initiatives. Many of the images are branded, containing visual marketing from BI, with very few coming from outside sources, such as other users.
Unlike BI, which is primarily focused on BI-related information, Mayo’s unique approach is driven by their core audience – patients. The account features board topics that range from audience-engaging and interactive (“Healthy Recipes,” “Fitness”) to more company-focused content (“Mayo on Everest,” “In The News”). The audience-driven board topics adapt to find a middle ground between how Pinterest’s primary audience uses the platform and some of the Mayo Clinic’s primary focus areas.
Also unlike BI, the images are often pinned by sharing links to the Mayo Clinic website, rather than directly uploaded to Pinterest. This seeks to take advantage of one of the platform’s greatest strengths, driving significant referring traffic to web publishers, even more than Twitter, Reddit and YouTube.
While Bayer, as an organization, is much more similar to BI than the Mayo Clinic, its Pinterest account represents somewhat of a middle ground between the two accounts – being both corporate and patient focused – including both direct uploads and pins via shared links. Bayer typically pins images by sharing links to their own websites. The company utilizes nine boards that range in focus from Bayer business initiatives and consumer campaign materials to others that more closely match the average Pinterest user’s favorite topics, like gardening and sustainability.
Unlike many pharmaceutical social media initiatives, some posts include comments from other users, to which Bayer typically responds. Through their Pinterest account, Bayer interacts with their audience without losing sight of the interactive opportunities within the platform.
With its freeform, creative nature, Pinterest may seem like an unlikely social media tool for healthcare companies. However, companies like Boehringer Ingelheim, the Mayo Clinic and Bayer have found diverse ways to utilize it. In the hands of innovative healthcare organizations, Pinterest can foster a connection with key audiences around shared interest areas, on a common platform.