A recent study revealed that Pinterest, the latest social networking site to take the social media world by storm, is now driving more traffic to websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a social networking site with a visually-pleasing “virtual pinboard” interface. Users collect photos and link to products they love, creating their own pinboards and following the pinboards of other people whom they find interesting. The site is currently invite-only, and it has experienced rapid growth in recent months (CrunchBase)
Launched in March 2010, Pinterest’s dramatic rise to become one of the top 10 social networking sites has been driven by an exponential growth in users, (a recent Techcrunch report cites 10 million U.S. monthly uniques – faster than any standalone site ever), seamless integration into existing social networking sites (Facebook and Twitter) and an elegant and attractive user interface.
When images are uploaded to Pinterest, links are embedded that users can click to drive traffic directly to a website’s page. Furthermore, by sharing these images via Twitter or Facebook or embedding them on their own website or blog, images can be shared with a wider audience. What started out as an online scrapbooking site for a demographic – most users are female between the ages of 25 and 44 – to collect and share recipe, fashion and home decor ideas, has now evolved into a prime marketing tool for businesses.
So far, so pinteresting, but the question is how can you leverage the potential of this rapidly growing site for health care social media – particularly given that success on the site is predicated on pinning visually interesting content and blatant marketing is discouraged? The answer lies in creating a strategy to promote your healthcare brand creatively so that it fits with the network’s user base and vision. Here are 9 ways to leverage the potential of Pinterest for healthcare social media.
1. Think Visually
Pinterest fits most naturally when a brand has a visually interesting story to tell. Users may stumble upon your images and share them with friends, giving your image (or video) the opportunity to go viral. So, your first strategy is to collect the best images which represent your healthcare brand. If your budget allows, you may like to consider hiring a professional photographer or graphic designer to help you.
#Pinterest Tip: For healthcare, images related to exercise, nutrition and other health care promotion resources work well, as you can see in this example from the Facing Cancer Together pinboard, which highlights healthy living tips for wellness and cancer prevention.
2. Create Infographics
With so many online messages competing for our attention, interesting graphics can help cut through the social media clutter. Infographics – graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge – present complex information quickly and have grown in popularity on the web. (Check out this recent article on Social Media Today to learn how infographic design can get more readers to click on your content). See how ecaring uses this infographic on the anatomy of walking to good effect.
3. Optimise your website
Populate your website with visual content that people will want to share. Make it easy for visitors to share your images on Pinterest by adding a Pin-It button to your site. You can also incorporate aPinterest follow button on your website to encourage users to connect with you on Pinterest.
4. Optimize your Pinterest profile
You can optimise your Pinterest Profile in the “settings” option of your account. Insert your company name as username, fill out your profile information, add your logo and include links to your website. Check that the option to ‘Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines’ is checked to ‘Off’ so your profile can get indexed in search. Lastly, check the boxes that link to your Twitter and Facebook accounts are highlighted so that your pins will be automatically linked to these accounts.
5. Optimise your boards for SEO
Default Pinterest boards are already categorised for you, but you can easily edit those names to best describe your pinboard. Categorising will help others find you and increase your chances of having your images repinned. Unfortunately there is no healthcare or health and wellness category (but this will hopefully change as more health related accounts are formed). What you can do is give your boards titles with SEO in mind. This is just the same as choosing key words for optimising your website or blog, so think about what words people will use to search for your brand. Pinterest is an effective SEO strategy because pins work as a link back to your site, and Google recognising the link, rewards your website with more SEO juice.
#Pinterest Tip: Add #hashtags to tag your pins and make your content more search-friendly (also useful for an integrated campaign across multiple social networking sites).
6. Showcase your brand’s personality
Study after study reveals that people prefer to buy from and engage with people rather than businesses. Pinterest gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand – so why not introduce your team and give your followers a behind the scenes look at the lives of those who work or volunteer for you. Pinboard ideas can range from images of daily life around the office, volunteering, award ceremonies, awareness raising activities to boards featuring “food we love” or “books we are reading”.
7. Build up followers
Start by following influencers and early adopters in your industry – there’s a good chance they will follow you back. Repin relevant content from other users and interact with them by commenting on their boards. Above all, you need to provide your followers with regularly updated content of interest and value to keep them engaged. The key to building a strong following on Pinterest, as with other social media sites, is to become a leading expert on a subject related to your industry. Become the go-to authority on Pinterest and you followers will flock to you.
8. Involve your supporters
The best marketing on any social media platform happens when your followers share their passion and enthusiasm for what you do. On Pinterest, you can invite other users to contribute their own images to your account by creating a user-generated pinboard. Don’t worry – this isn’t a free-for-all for everyone. You create a specific board for this purpose, then go to edit and choose “Me + Contributors” under who can pin, thereby allowing you to choose who can contribute. This is a great opportunity to foster community, engage with your followers, and inspire, encourage and acknowledge volunteers.
9. Have Fun!
The images most likely to be repined are aesthetically pleasing, with humorous images coming a close second. So remember not to take the site too seriously and pin with positivity.
Pinterest is growing and changes are being incorporated as it evolves. Marketers are still finding their way around the site and while it has already proven its marketing worth to businesses, the potential to leverage the site for health care marketing is clearly evident. If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into Pinterest waters, take some time to explore the creative ways it is currently used by NGOs, hospitals, healthcare professionals and pharma. Determine if it fits with your marketing plan, then incorporating the tips outlined in this article, devise a Pinterest marketing strategy that will best leverage its potential for your purposes.
Find me on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ennoconn/