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Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about Pinterest. I presented some stats, accolades and examples of how it was being used.
At the time I wasn't a big fan, and I didn't really see the value of it for hospital marketing.
In that post I wrote, "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."
A year later, I have to admit I'm hooked. I am completely, utterly addicted to this little network of pins and pictures and recipes and fitness tips and motivational pictures. Why? Because it's so easy to use and share GREAT information that supports your mission.
Now I'm not completely eating my words from last year. I still agree with my initial impression that you don't really interact with people like other networks. What I missed on first glance is the beauty of its simplicity--it's a simple way to share important information visually.
The biggest point, though, is it results in more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. So if you've got great information on your website that no one is seeing, try pinning it and see what happens.
Since December I've launched pages for three of the partners within our organization--a mid-sized academic medical center that specializes in weight management and bariatric surgery among other specialties, a children's hospital and a women's medicine practice.
We've got boards about us and our programs/specialties (which of course tie to the marketing priorities) and for health news, recipes, exercise tips, inspiration and motivation, children's safety tips, holiday tips, seasonal health info and more. Each day we share things that are timely, topical and helpful for our audiences, or just plain fun. We also "repin" a lot from the folks who we are following.
We've been getting lots of repins and likes, so that's a good thing. And there's always the question of how to measure success. Google Analytics can be used to measure how many click-throughs you get to your site, and you also can use some of these online tools or use PinPuff for a quick overview of your account and an overall score.
Personally, I really like PinReach. It gives you great information on followers, pins, repins and more, along with an overall score so you can see how you compare to other users. You can quickly and easily see your activity and how you're doing and, most importantly, what resonates most with your community.
Then you can focus your time more on those boards. My bet would be healthy recipes, inspirational and motivational quotes and "cute" things! The more repins and followers you get, the higher your score goes.
Also of note, on Tuesday Pinterest announced on their blog that it would be offering its own analytics for Pinterest accounts that have a verified website. If you don't know how to do that, just follow these directions.
This should be "pintastic" because not only can you get info on likes and repins, but it will also easily give you the stats to how much traffic your own website got as a result of your Pinterest activity--all in one easy dashboard. If your website is verified, you'll be able to get analytics dating back to Nov. 1, 2012. If your website is NOT verified, then the analytics will begin once you get that set up.
A word of caution--Pinterest can be a HUGE resource on your time because of its addictive powers! But if you're using social media to promote your hospital, remember that Pinterest is a powerful competitor in social networks. Last July, Forbes said it could be the next social media giant."
It's the third largest network right now behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of active users, and it's probably something you should consider.
Right now it has 12 million users and that number is growing daily. It's largest demographic is women, clearly a target audience for hospital marketers.
Just like Twitter and Facebook, if you're not using this virtual pinboard to connect with your audience, you're being left behind.
So, are you using Pinterest in your social media toolbox? If not, is it something your hospital is considering? Happy pinning!
Nancy Cawley Jean is a senior media relations officer for the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island, managing social media for five hospitals and a women's medicine practice.
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