Pinterest, YouTube can help your hospital's marketing efforts

A picture is worth a thousand words--especially when it comes to social media.

Hospital marketers typically have relied on words to create content and build brands. However, times have changed, and marketers need to think more like graphic designers and focus on images.

While it may seem like a drastic shift, it actually follows a basic tenet of good journalism: Don't tell me, show me. So it really shouldn't be surprising that the hottest social media trends today have a strong visual component. Let's consider four: Pinterest, infographics, SlideShare and YouTube.

Pinterest: Something between visual social bookmarking and scrapbooking, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board, where users create "boards" where they "pin" items to share. The only caveat is that items need to have a visual component, such as a photo or graphic, in order to be pinned to a board. Launched two years ago, Pinterest's been named the breakout social network of 2012 and saw the number of unique visitors to the site grow 400 percent from September to December 2011.

So why should healthcare marketers care about Pinterest? Since its users are predominately female, it's a great way to reach women, who are healthcare decision makers for families. Only a handful of healthcare organizations currently engage on Pinterest, so there's a real opportunity for hospitals to become a great health resource for people. But you better move fast--the word is getting out.

Hospitals can use Pinterest as a content curation tool to pull content from different parts of the web to help with education and patient engagement. They could be creating boards about exercise for their orthopedic or physical therapy groups or creating boards for chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes and heart disease) that compile recipes, success stories and exercise tips.

However, Pinterest can be difficult to search, so it's important for hospitals to promote their boards through social media.

Infographics: Research shows that people spend more time using social media than going to church, talking on the phone, sending email or exercising. In this age of information overload, we're bombarded with information, all the time. Maybe that's why infographics have become all the rage--they use graphics to provide a user-friendly way to present of information, making it easily understood at a glance.

But it's important to note that all infographics aren't created equal.


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