Yes, there’s another social network that is all over the news. It’s called Pinterest, and it seems you can’t read a newspaper or scroll through your RSS feed without stumbling upon another post or article about this hot new network. Even the Wall Street Journal is covering it.
So what is Pinterest? It is described as a “virtual pinboard” that allows users to create bulletin boards by “pinning” images and videos they come across on the web, and categorize customized boards. Common themes for boards include “books I’ve read,” “places I’ve traveled to” and “favorite recipes.” Apparently, users have called it completely addictive. Its largest demographic is women.
Pinterest been dubbed the fastest-growing social network and called “2012’s hottest startup.” A recent article on Mashable noted that Pinterest DAILY users are up 125 percent, and provided a great infographic with everything you want to know about it.
So what does this have to do with hospitals, you might ask? I asked the same thing. I’ve been reading a lot about this latest social network, and finally bit the bullet and signed up. I’ve come across some great articles that explain a variety of ways Pinterest may help hospitals further connect with their community, in a visual way. Hive Strategies featured a great article on using this new tool, and Jean Kelso Sandlin (@JKelsoSandlin) put together an amazing sample board. In her article, she suggests hospitals use Pinterest as a way to curate information. At a glance someone can find quick information on helpful books and health resources, healthy recipes, and other things that can improve health. She points out, however, that at this time there is NO category for health on Pinterest.
Jenn Riggle (@riggrl) also wrote a blog post earlier this month for Hospital Impact, encouraging healthcare communicators to begin thinking visually, and cited some of the many uses of Pinterest for hospitals. She points out that only a handful of hospitals are currently using Pinterest, so it’s a great opportunity to differentiate yourself in the market by using this visual tool. Some uses she identifies include boards for exercise, recipes, patient stories and more.
Baylor Health is now fully involved in Pinterest, and is focusing much of its social media efforts on the new tool. Here’s great post about what it’s doing. It’s pretty amazing; you should check it out. I also came across this from Nicola Ziady (@nicolaziady): a collection of boards from hospitals that are currently on Pinterest. I’m sure this list will grow rapidly.
So now that we have a better understanding of this new tool, we can see the many possibilities the virtual pinboard represents for hospital communicators as we continue to find new ways to market our brands, engage with our communities and build loyal followings.
I’m going to play the devil’s advocate on this one, though. Yes, Pinterest is the newest, hottest social network out there. Yes, it’s growing rapidly. Yes, it’s a key audience for healthcare communicators in that mostly women are addicted to this new tool. That is all well and good.
Now, granted, I’m a newbie at this whole pinning thing. But first impressions for me are lasting ones. With that said, I’m really not seeing the kind of interaction with others that you can have with Twitter and Facebook. There doesn’t seem to be any way to really connect with someone or have a conversation.
I’m also assuming that most hospitals have a limited amount of resources to manage and monitor social networks. I believe those resources should be dedicated to those networks that are going to give you the most engagement, the most connections with people, and the most logical way to support your overall mission on health and healthcare.
I also came across some privacy issues for using Pinterest. As it’s still growing, the social network will no doubt be tweaked along the way, and I’m sure these privacy issues will be addressed.
So yes, Pinterest is the new kid in town and it’s really cool and everyone’s using it. But it seems to be a more solitary activity than one of engagement. For now, I’m going to keep watching and pinning on my personal boards. We’ll see where this goes before we think about adding it to our own bag of social media tricks.
What about your hospital? Are you pinning–or do you have plans to start?
This post was written for and originally published on www.hospitalimpact.org. Graphic from Nicola Zaidy’s Pinterest board, Hospitals on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/nicolaziady/hospitals-on-pinterest/).