Marie Ennis-O’Connor is a social media consultant, award-winning health blogger, and author of “Beyond The Buzz: Healthcare Social Media”
Have you noticed how visual and colourful social media have become? Platforms that focus on visuals (like photos) such as Pinterest have grown in popularity, and it has been shown that visual media increase the rate of engagement when included on Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest has over 70 million global users and 83 billion monthly page views, and according to content-sharing site Shareaholic, Pinterest is driving more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. A quick search on Pinterest for hospice, palliative and end-of-life related keywords reveal that palliative care professionals have already established a presence there. If you wish to join them, this article will show you how to use Pinterest to increase visibility and enhance the understanding of palliative care.
What is Pinterest?
For those unfamiliar with Pinterest, a brief overview:
Pinterest is a social networking site with an elegant and attractive “virtual pinboard” interface. Users collect photos and link to items they find interesting, thus creating their own pinboards. When images are uploaded to Pinterest, links are embedded that users can click to drive traffic directly to a website’s page. Furthermore, by sharing these images via Twitter or Facebook or embedding them on their own website or blog, images can be shared with a wider audience.
How to set up a Pinterest account
It only takes a few moments to set up your Pinterest account. Click on www.pinterest.com to get started. Add your username, fill out your profile information and include a picture or logo along with links to your website. Consider checking that the option to ‘Hide your profile from search engines’ is checked to ‘Off’, so your profile can get indexed by Google and other search engines. Lastly, check the boxes that link to your Twitter and Facebook accounts are highlighted if you want your pins automatically linked to these accounts. Once your account is set up, you can create “boards” and add images and videos to your boards by “pinning” them.
What should I ‘pin’?
• Educational resources. Create a board with links to books, educational and informational resources relevant to palliative care. Add images and video for visual interest.
• Create boards for your events. Share photos and videos of open days, conferences, seminars, fundraising, or other events you host or attend.
• Pin your blog posts. Pinning your blog posts can help expand their reach and drive traffic to your blog or website. Make sure you add a “pinnable” image to each post you create on your blog.
• Feature user-generated content. Featuring user-generated content on your pinboards is a good way to create community. You could set up a monthly “Guest Pinner” for your Pinterest account, and allow your staff, students, volunteers, or patients to pin on certain boards.
• Be inspiring. Inspirational quotes are extremely popular on Pinterest. You can re-pin from other users, or design your own.
• Image of the day. Create a regular image of the day feature; it could be a behind the scenes look at your organization, your facilities, your location, or seasonable events – the possibilities are endless.
• Introduce your staff, students and volunteers. Give your followers a behind the scenes look at the lives of those who work or volunteer for you. Pinboard ideas can range from images of daily work routines, to boards featuring “places we love” or “books we are reading”.
• Create Infographics. Infographics (graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge) present complex information quickly and have grown in popularity on the web. You can create your own infographics with a free tool like Piktochart.
Designing “pinworthy” images
Pinterest images have the longest lifespan of any social media platform, so it’s worth taking some time and care when designing your images.
• You can achieve professional looking images with a good camera and some basic photo editing software.
• Taller, vertical images are more repinnable.
• Use a tool like Canva, which has its own premade Pinterest templates to help you design appealing images.
• Overlay your images with text to help you convey your message at a glance (Pic Monkey is a useful tool for this).
Optimise your pins
Use keywords in your image file name, and add keywords to all descriptions. Make it clear what users will find when they click on your image. Add the Pinterest follow button to your website and make it easy for visitors to share your images on Pinterest by adding a Pin-It button to your website images. Promote your presence on Pinterest through your other social networks by encouraging your followers/fans on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter to follow you there.
Pinterest, like all social media, has within it the potential to ignite conversations, deepen connection and understanding, and foster communities of shared interests. With a little creativity and imagination you can begin to use it to share your passion for what you do and recognise others for the work they do in palliative care.