Baylor Healthcare System Takes A Leap Into Pinterest: Interview with Ashley Howland (Part 1)

08/01/2012

The relatively fast Pinterest adoption rate, of what we might call nontraditional to social media verticals, is amazing to me. From financial services, manufacturing to B-to-B, Pinterest seems to capture the imagination of marketers. 

Baylor logoIn particular is the healthcare sector where many hospitals and medical centers are embracing visual communications and doing interesting work on Pinterest.

I was very excited when Ashely Howland from Bayler Healthcare System agreed to tell us the back-story of Bayler's Pinterest strategy. Ashely graciously shares her insights and learnings. In fact, her interview was so rich and detailed that we decided to run it as a series. Please join me in welcoming Ashley to Diva Marketing!

About Ashley Howland is the social media manager for Baylor Health Care System. She has been with Baylor for 8 years where she got her start in Media Relations. She took on Baylor’s social media efforts in 2009 “on the side” and it quickly turned into a full time job. Ashley Howland_Baylor Med Ct

Diva Marketing/Toby: I applaud Baylor’s step into Pinterest. Your boards were one of the first that I pinned to my Brand Board. Perhaps you can shed some light on something I’ve been thinking about since I first saw your boards.

Healthcare, as an industry, was slow to participate in the social web. However, it seems the opposite is true for Pinterest. On a high level why do you suppose that’s the case?

Ashley Howland: Thanks for adding us to your brand boards! You’re right; health care was very slow to adopt social media. One of the biggest reasons for that are the regulations in our industry, i.e. patient privacy laws. 

We have now embraced it and are using it to inform and educate the public with credible health information. We’re also using it to learn from them as well…what kind of experience they’re having in our hospitals, what type of information they’re looking for and most importantly, we’re using it to help our patients connect with each other for support.

I think one of the biggest reasons Pinterest is so popular in the health care industry is because of its demographic.  Nearly 70% of Pinterest users are women, which is a target audience for the health care industry. Women usually make the majority of health care decisions in a household and are usually the ones searching the web for health information.

Pinterest is also not as personal as some of the other social platforms. While Facebook and Twitter are hugely popular, not everyone is comfortable interacting in those spaces. Millions of people have accounts, but they may not be very active on those sites.

I think Pinterest fills that void. It appeals to the people who may not want to share the personal details of their life, but have no problem sharing about their interests and hobbies.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s explore Baylor’s presence on Pinterest. What was it that first caught your interest about Pinterest to take the “pin leap?” When did you pin your first pin?

Ashley Howland:  We pinned our first pin in January of this year. I was using Pinterest personally and became addicted to it very early on…like everyone else!

We decided to take the “pin leap” because it seemed like such a natural fit for us.  As a hospital system, we have historically been concerned with treating illness, but now more than ever, we are responsible for treating wellness.

Social networking sites are the perfect place to do that. With sites like Pinterest, we can not only inspire people to live healthier lives, but we can show them how.

  • We are taking the wealth of knowledge and expertise we’re privy to inside the walls of our hospitals and converting it to an easy-to-comprehend visual format.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Currently Baylor has 21 boards with a wide range of topics from healthcare games and tips, food. holidays, fitness and even animal therapy and boards about Texas. How did you determine the topics? Any surprises on the reactions from your community?

Ashley Howland: At first, we determined the topics of the boards based on the content we already had available. We also started paying attention to what people were pinning on our personal Pinterest spaces. In addition to home décor, fashion and arts and crafts, I noticed that my friends were pinning lots of recipes.

Baylor may not be able to help you put together a stylish outfit or show you how to Mod Podge a picture frame, but we’ve got recipes covered! We also noticed that people were pinning a lot of fitness pins and just everyday tips and tricks. We have an abundance of printable health checklists and how-to guides on our website so we pinned them and people loved them!

The biggest surprise was the reaction we got from our Interactive Health Quizzes board. We have many health quizzes and risk assessments buried on our website so we dug them out and started pinning them.

I was surprised that some of them didn’t get any re-pins or likes, but once we started measuring the click-throughs, we realized they were wildly successful! Some people may be shy or embarrassed about pinning a “Are you at risk for depression?” quiz or a risk assessment for cancer, but they will definitely click-through to take the quiz.

Diva Marketing/Toby: What types of content are you pinning?Ashley Howland: What’s great about Pinterest is there is an audience for just about anything! Sometimes brands are frustrated by it because they think they have nothing to pin. On the contrary.

  • Content is everywhere you look! You just have to think visually and figure out a way to re-purpose it for this medium.

Got a blog post with a list of tips? An online interview with a subject matter expert? Find a graphic for it and pin it! If you have graphic design skills or have access to a graphic designer, that’s the key. And don’t forget about videos! Videos are becoming very popular on Pinterest. In short, almost anything can be turned into a pin.

That being said, we pin just about anything we can find at Baylor. Instead of being an afterthought, Pinterest has become a driving force for our social media efforts. Every piece of content we create, we try to think of how we can turn it into a pin. Instead of communicating with words, we’re all learning to communicate visually.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Understanding that Pinterest is still in its infancy, what are your measures for success?

Ashley Howland: Although Pinterest is still in beta phase—which is pretty incredible considering the number of users—there are already third party websites available that can help you measure your success.

Right now, we are using Pinerly. Pinerly is amazing because it not only tracks your click-throughs on a pin, it allows you to upload content that may not have an image already attached to it. For example, say you have a great blog post or an article on your website titled “5 tips for working out at home,” but there is no compelling image on the page. If you are using Pinterest to pin this content, it won’t work. However, Pinerly allows you to upload an image of your choice while posting the link behind it.

Another measurement tool that I recently discovered is Curalate. I’m really anxious to try it out! 

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating. What were Baylor’s challenges and how did you overcome them?

Ashley Howland: You’re right; every social networking site has its risks. Unfortunately, Pinterest has been singled out lately and a lot of attention has been called to its Terms of Service. They have made a lot of changes to their language about copyright issues, but the truth is their Terms of Service are very similar to other social networking sites as well.

As far as copyright issues are concerned, we try very hard to pin as much original content as we can. We definitely repin the brands and people we follow, but we try to make sure we repin from credible sources and that the original source of the content is credited.  

One of our biggest challenges with Pinterest, and any social media outlet for that matter, is to make sure we are sharing or repinning content from credible sources. Many people will repin without clicking through right away.

As a brand, we click-through every image we want to repin to make sure it’s coming from a credible trusted source, that we’re not endorsing a product, and most importantly to make sure the pin is not linked to a spam site. Even our beloved Pinterest is not safe from spammers, unfortunately.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In social networks there are two paths we can take: passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening.

How active is Balyor in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Ashley Howland: Engagement is a big priority for us, but to be honest, we haven’t really taken advantage of fully engaging with pinners…yet. On occasion, we’ll thank someone for repinning us, comment on other pins and give out likes, but engagement takes time and a lot of effort.

It’s a big and very important job. We have recently increased our staff to include two community managers and one of their primary goals is to spend time interacting with pinners. Baylor_Pinterst 8_1_12

Diva Marketing/Toby: One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate how much time you’re investing to Pinterest?

Ashley Howland: I believe you get out of these networks what you put into them. If your intent is to share content, that’s great, but then you’re only scratching the surface of social media and using it as another one-way communication channel.

It’s a two-way channel. In fact, it’s more than that…it’s a community of real people. I think brands are finally starting to realize that social media isn’t a side gig. It’s an integral part to any communications strategy. Most importantly, it’s not free which is a big misconception. Of course the tools are free, but the effort that goes into them isn’t.

I think you have to figure out what your priorities are and what your company’s goals are and then go from there. Not every business will greatly benefit from Pinterest. Evaluate your objectives and figure out where you should be spending your time.

Baylor is very supportive of our social media efforts and has given us additional full time employees to help manage our social media presence. I recently hired two community managers who are doing a great job of not only finding and creating relevant content, but talking to our communities and helping us reach beyond the day-to-day postings.

  • We could all stand to do more listening instead of talking in our social landscape!  

In addition, our Public Relations/Media Relations department has incorporated social media as a part of their jobs.Everyone in our Marketing/PR department; including many of our clinical employees such as physicians, nurses and dietitians; is encouraged to attend what I call the Social Media Campfire, a monthly discussion of the tools we’re using and how all of us can make them a part of our communications toolbox…no matter if you’re in the Social Media Department or not.

Continue the conversation with Ashley and the social media team from Bayler Healthcare System

Pinterest Facebook Twitter-@baylor health YouTube Google+ Ashley on Twitter

Join me on Pinterest!

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

 

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Comments

You might want to take a look at the title...Baylor is spelled with an O not an E.

Posted by: Elizabeth on Aug 1, 2012 6:59:22 PM

Elizabeth - thanks for the edit!

Posted by: Toby @tobydiva on Aug 1, 2012 8:31:41 PM

Awesome post, Toby! Very helpful for us healthcare marketers just dipping our toes into Pinterest!

Posted by: stephanie on Aug 2, 2012 6:12:51 PM

@Stephanie - glad you enjoyed the interview. watch for a continuation next week!

Posted by: Toby @tobydiva on Aug 2, 2012 7:07:14 PM

Thanks Toby. Great interview. There’s no denying the awesome reach and power of the latest social network to grace our screens – Pinterest.

Posted by: Shilpi Roy Virtual Assistant on Aug 7, 2012 6:23:43 AM

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