It has been quite some time since I first wrote about the ways in which healthcare can leverage Pinterest, the content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images and videos to a virtual pin board. Since then I have seen some note-worthy examples of healthcare pinners who have used the site to build community, to raise awareness and enhance the understanding of a specific health condition. In this article, I will showcase three users who represent different sectors of healthcare and who are using Pinterest to good effect.

Why You Should Consider Pinterest As Part Of Your Healthcare Strategy

With over 70 million global users on Pinterest, and 83 billion monthly page views, the site drives more traffic to online publishers than Twitter, Linkedin and Reddit combined. According to a 2013 study done by ShareThis, it dominates all social sharing on iPads with 48.2% of all shares happening on Pinterest. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make approximately 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families today. Now combine this statistic with the same number of women on Pinterest - 80% and you can clearly see that this is a demographic healthcare need to tap into. 

There is a common misconception that Pinterest is for women posting images of shoes, home decor ideas and recipes, but the examples I have chosen below clearly demonstrate the potential to leverage the site for health care marketing. If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into Pinterest waters, take some time to explore the creative ways it is currently being used by NGOs, hospitals, healthcare professionals and pharma. Next determine if it fits with your marketing plan and if you can devise a consistent strategy which will produce quality images, videos and infographics to provide value to your audience and best leverage the site’s potential for your purposes.

1. The Doctor

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Dr Matthew Katz is a community-based doctor dedicated to improving cancer care and health empowerment. His Pinterest boards on breast cancer are a comprehensive collection of videos and images ranging from how to perform a breast exam, to what happens during a biopsy and the staging of breast cancer. Dr Katz provides a helpful explanation or summary with each of the images or videos he posts, thereby increasing his trust and approachability factor. I have found that this is consistent with Dr Katz’s online presence. He is always respectful and professional, but also friendly and approachable with an obvious dedication to patient engagement and empowerment; his Pinterest strategy clearly reflects this.

Lesson #1: Don't just pin pictures, pin videos too. Choose relevant videos to explain medical procedures. Adding your own comments will increase their value and interest for your followers. 

2. The Community

social media for healthcare

WEGO Health is an online community for Health Activists. 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. WEGO have taken this a step further, by inviting guest pinners to their boards.  

health and pinningLesson #2: Inviting your Pinterest followers to contribute to your boards is a great opportunity to foster community, engage with your audience, and build and strengthen your online community.

3. The Hospital

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The Cleveland Clinic, a multispecialty academic medical center located in Cleveland, Ohio, has categorized its Pinterest boards to appeal to its diverse user base. There are disease-specific boards, alongside a comprehensive selection of wellness and healthy living pins. The Cleveland’s use of infographics is particularly effective. Infographics are valuable tools for healthcare providers to present complex information, educate patients, and brand and market a healthcare service in a creative and visually attractive way. The Cleveland's infographics creatively convey their health messages.  I particularly like how they match them to seasons and holidays, like their “5 Foods To Fall For” and their Thanksgiving graphics, making them highly shareable and increasing their viral spread.

Lesson #3: Turn your content into infographics and data charts. With so many online messages competing for our attention, interesting graphics can help cut through the social media clutter. 

What To Watch For In Pinterest in 2014

Rich Pins allow you to add extra details to your Pins to make them more useful to your audience, for example, Article Pins include headline, author, and story description, helping pinners find and save stories that matter to them. You’ll need to prepare your website with meta tags to test out your Rich Pins and apply to get them on Pinterest. If this sounds too techie, you might want to ask your developer or site owner to help you with this.

Towards the end of 2013, Pinterest introduced a new feature called Place Pins – an interactive map for the places people want to visit around the world. Place Pins include extra details, like addresses and phone numbers, so with a little imagination you can tweak this feature to include the location of your facilities, or events you are planning. Creating a board of Place Pins is easy. Just select add a map ( The map search is powered by Foursquare) when you create a new board or edit an existing board’s settings to add a map. After that, you can map all of your new and existing Pins on the board to help users find you.

Pinterest is still the fastest growing social platform since it burst on the scene in 2010. I expect to see this growth continue and new features and functionality implemented to make it even more purposive to users in 2014. 

Happy Pinning!