Why should healthcare care about visual social media? I know many people reading this will be saying, “We don’t even participate in ‘regular’ social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and now you want us to look at visual?!? Oy Vey!” We hear you loud and clear, but considering the fact that Instagram just surpassed Twitter in daily mobile users this past August, we feel there are some tremendous opportunities with these types of vehicles that could fit better with the industry’s goals than some of the previous social networking and content generating platforms.
We attended a Visual Social Media conference last week in NYC because we have wanted to explore this topic in light of recent stats that show images being shared more often than video and the fast growth of sites like Pinterest and Instagram.
What did we learn? We heard from brands like GE (B2B – including healthcare), PerkStreet (financial), Waldorf Astoria (hospitality) and Warby Parker (eyewear) about how visual content is becoming a key part of their media plans to engage followers. We’ve always heard that “A picture is worth a thousand words” and the social space is proving that daily, as phones incorporate better cameras. Bandwidth and connectivity have become less of an issue with 4G networks, further propelling the popularity of image sharing as a means of communication (Now you can easily text a photo or even a video of your bouncing baby instantly to your parents halfway across the globe). And what better way to describe a setting or how you feel than through an image?
So that is all great and good and yada yada yada, but what does that mean in the healthcare space? Do I really want to see what a skin disorder looks like – am I really going to share that with my friends and family? What images might doctors really post – and do they have the time to do this?
Another way to look at it may be: Is this finally the way to bring the emotional connection into the discussion around our health? Could I keep an image journal of my journey with a disease or at least pair it with a blog that I am keeping? Could images be used more in the discussion with a doctor to help aid the doctor patient dialogue?
Pinterest boards and sharing on Instagram bring people together around many health issues: On boards about diabetes, for example, some patients will dedicate part of their account to their condition; They pin recipes, inspirational quotes, educational resources, memes, etc… Similar sharing can be found on the F C Cancer Foundation and Diabetic Problems accounts on Instagram.
For their part, healthcare brands are using photo sharing to engage users: Novo Nordisk for example uses Pinterest for patients to share stories, discuss sustainability, and mark special days like World Diabetes Day (November 14). Bayer Corp’s 7 Pinterest boards cover business, sustainability, innovation, high-tech materials, gardening, advertising, and science, education & advocacy.
Numerous hospitals have set up Pinterest patient support networks, boards for success stories, medical imagery and education. These powerful images help those seeking comfort and care connect with solutions and support. Why not position your healthcare brand as a trusted ally in this journey toward better health?
Econsultancy’s “11 Ways to use Pinterest as a Brand, provides some practical tips for marketers: These include: using images/videos to inform people about your organization’s goals and mission (i.e. case studies, major projects and campaigns), developing a press room to give a “snapshot” of what’s being written about your company (i.e. awards and recognition) and; creating a board to pin your company’s favorite photos, press clips and attendance at events. Further, you could post photos to show progress made in diagnosing, treating and combatting a disease or to showcase your latest technologies.
On a practical level it’s been shown that issuing content with multimedia elements increases the distribution and consumption of the content (PR Newswire).
“A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with friends on social media sites, it’s the pictures they took that are enjoyed the most. Forty-four percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Pictures have become one of our default modes of sorting and understanding the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to every day.”
When done in a way that aligns with a brand’s strategy, social media photo sharing can be a powerful way to connect, inform, engage and learn from those who need your brand the most.