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Pinterest: Pros and Cons for Pharma

Posted by | 11:08am on Thursday, December 6, 2012
Pinterest logo on Siren Interactive's blog Sirensong

The big issue for pharma is when an item is pinned, it enables comments. 

Since I first wrote about Pinterest the site has continued to garner headlines for its growth and new offerings. If you aren’t familiar with the social network Pinterest, it’s a “virtual pinboard.” It allows users to organize and share Internet content (typically images) by pinning it to virtual boards. Accounts can be linked to Facebook and Twitter to share Pinterest activity via these social networks.

The demographics have stayed consistent–it skews heavily to females age 25-34 in the Midwest. About 2/3 of users are women, and half have children. It’s the sixth most popular social network, with 27M unique visitors per Nielsen.

Business accounts
Since thousands of businesses were using Pinterest, the company recently launched business accounts. This allows a business to create an account with their name (rather than using a first and last name) and custom URL. The main difference is a longer terms of use document and the ability to verify the profile via a website. Pinterest offers badges and widgets to use on a site to promote pages. They also provide case studies of retailers, such as Whole Foods, who are using the site effectively. It’s easy to convert an existing account into a business account.

Copyright concerns
As before, the account owner (whether business or personal) is responsible for the content posted to Pinterest and for following copyright laws. Both versions of the terms of use clearly put the copyright responsibility on the users. This means that a business should only use images that they have licensed for unlimited Internet use.

Secret boards
Pinterest boards are public, so users can follow each other and comment. Just in time for the holidays, Pinterest offered the option to create secret boards. Users can keep a board private or invite a few friends via email to pin to the board.

Pharma on Pinterest
Pinterest is the perfect place to share health infographics, and plenty of people are doing this. Enspektos surveyed 320 U.S. adults who use online and social media and learned that 30% of those who use Pinterest have encountered health information on the site.

You don’t have to have a Pinterest page for others to share your information on Pinterest. A few pharma companies have created infographics and made them easy for others to pin. One example is Sanofi and another is our client, Lundbeck.

A few pharma companies have taken the leap and are using Pinterest for corporate reputation, recruitment and disease awareness:

  • Astra Zeneca Jobs is “intended to highlight AZ’s culture, people & opportunities.” They have 120 followers.
  • Bayer has 226 followers, with boards on topics ranging from innovation to Bayer advertising to gardening.
  • Johnson & Johnson have posted their logo and reserved the URL. Despite the lack of content, they have 113 followers.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim sets expectations nicely by including terms of use explaining that they have the right to remove any postings, as “we can’t risk unmonitored or unverified medical advice being published.” The 101 followers can view pins on company history, lung cancer, COPD and stroke.
  • Novo Nordisk, with 163 followers, has boards on World Haemophilia Day and World Diabetes Day along with some patient stories.

If I missed a biopharma Pinterest page, please comment below. At this point, none of these pages have a lot of comments, repins or likes so they aren’t generating significant audience engagement. However, it has only been a few months and these companies are taking the lead. One of the lessons is that like a website, a Pinterest page needs to be marketed.

With overwhelmingly female users, it’s definitely a desirable audience for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. And the popularity of health infographics shows that it can be used for disease awareness and education. Rare disease advocate Melissa Hogan uses Pinterest to share tools and tips of life with her son Case, who has Hunter Syndrome. I think someone using Pinterest to chart their patient journey would be compelling.

Comments allowed
The big issue for pharma is when an item is pinned, it enables comments. Pinterest allows a comment to be deleted, but for a pharma board these comments would need to be monitored. Any company who creates a Pinterest account should be ready and willing to use it to engage in a conversation. The big unanswered question is would the resources required to post on Pinterest, gain followers and moderate comments be worth it? Do you think the benefits would be worth the investment? I’ll be following the current pharma Pinterest pages with interest.

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

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