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Pinterest: Four Important Considerations Before You Board, Pin or Repin

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

pinterest considerationsThe buzz around that “new” social media site Pinterest (the virtual pinboard where you “pin” things of interest) has been explosive in the past few weeks. But like many “overnight sensations,” this emerging technology has actually been around for a couple of years.

Some medical and dental practices, hospitals, healthcare marketing professionals and health-condition-specific ePatients have leaped into the flashy foray, and with good reason. Much of what you read—or experience for yourself—about Pinterest lets you know it’s uniquely different from the “first gen” social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or even last year’s Google Plus.

Although the noise and glitz isn’t just hype, it may not be right for your situation. But if you’re already using Pinterest, or considering adding it to your social media mix, here are a few good-news-bad-news considerations for healthcare marketing minds.

Pinterest presents some impressive numbers. Fortunately for results-oriented professionals, it has been around long enough to lay claim to some legitimate metrics. The New York Times reports that Pinterest may be “the fastest Web site in history to break the 10-million-visitors-a-month threshold.” Notwithstanding that Pinterest wants to toot their own horn, reliable sources such as AppData says that the nearly 11 million registered users are mainly (97%) women (25-34).

What this means to marketing: Because women largely drive health and medical-care decisions, these demographics are compelling…provided that this is your target audience. The numbers are so skewed toward young women that seniors, mature families, and men are not picking up many pins.

Pinterest is mainly visual. In fact, it’s almost entirely a visually driven platform. Communicating via Pinterest requires a visual mindset. The eye candy is a big reason that it engages and retains visitors (and differentiates itself from other social media.)

What this means to marketing: While colorful products and pictures of kitchen remodels are a natural for picture storytelling, personal services are a different (and more difficult) creative challenge. A plus, however, is that “visual” includes the use of video, infographics, diagrams and charts.

Pinterest does not have a health or healthcare category…yet. Of course Pinterest is searchable, but their current pull-down listing of “Everything” does not offer a health, medical or healthcare category.

What this means to marketing: Because healthcare information and health related discussions are significant online topics, we expect the list will change according to demand. Consider if this impacts your go-no-go timing.

Pinterest has a distraction factor. Some of the Pinterest secret sauce is that it dazzles the visitor with color, images and ideas. Arriving at the home page, a visitor is presented with an ever-increasing amount of sensory input as they scroll down the page (and the page grows longer).

What this means to marketing: Your topic needs to be exceptionally strong, powerfully important and/or highly interesting. The visual bombardment of this site is so intense that it can be distracting for new visitors. This is no place to be casual or subtle.

Pinterest is free…but nothing is entirely free. Let’s face it, healthcare marketing resources are tight and in the real world, using a “free” platform requires someone’s time and attention. While there are few hard-dollar costs, using Pinterest (or any social media tool) draws down on marketing resources.

What this means to marketing: Before you invest heavily in Pinterest, be sure it is an appropriate fit for reaching and engaging your well-defined target audience. Most importantly, have a means to measure its effectiveness and performance.

Take your time becoming acquainted with Pinterest—it’s new, it’s growing and it’s changing. (Heck, the company hasn’t said how they eventually intend to make money as a business.)

For many healthcare providers, it’s a creative and potentially useful social media and marketing tool. But because this emerging technology is still emerging (and a little confusing at first), don’t get swept-up by the newness, noise or novelty.

As a place to start with this startup, Pinterest offers a Pinning 101 Help page.

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