Digital Insights: Pinterest for Pharma?

Does Pharma have a place on Pinterest?

By Michele V. Wagner, Senior Digital Editor

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My friend Amy's status update on Facebook recently read, “Thanks to Pinterest, I now have recipes I don't have time to bake, crafts I don't have the inclination or patience to try, and projects I will probably get around to in my retirement.” I agree wholeheartedly.

For those of you who have not yet joined, Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The site, that gained two million subscribers in under two years, allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. Pinterest’s mission statement is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting." Fair enough. But, is there any use for Pinterest in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry or will the site stay a library of recipes, crafts and fashion tips?

On the site, users can upload images directly to a particular “board” or use a toolbar widget to “pin” an image from a blog post or web page. The software automatically imbeds a link in the image, making it easy to find that graphic again down the road. For, Big Pharma, this technology might prove useful with tracking new technology updates on the manufacturing side or creating boards for specific disease/drugs on the patient side.

The only Big Pharma company that has embraced Pinterest so far seems to be Novo Nordisk (http://pinterest.com/NovoNordisk/). However, they list only a company logo and description and have yet to create any boards.  Pharma Marketing blogger, John Mack, did some searching for Big Pharma companies and found that companies like Roche, GSK, Novartis, JNJ and Merck’s names have already been taken by other Pinterest users sharing similar acronyms or family names which might make it difficult for the companies to establish a brand presence on the site.

Some healthcare companies and hospitals such as Baylor Healthcare System, who has nine bulletin boards running, are using the site to share new technologies, spread information, motivate and connect with their patients.

On the manufacturing side, because it is mainly photo-driven, might provide a great space for product/technology photo sharing with users and other companies. Pinterest also shared up to 500 characters to be accompanied with each pinned photo allowing for hyperlinks to company sites and product demos.

Right now Pinterest’s demographic is women in their 20s-30s but like any social media tool, this can easily morph in the future. Pinterest may prove helpful for Big Pharma on both the manufacturing and patient side but only time will tell as with most social media services. Even scientists are using Twitter now and my 95 year old grandfather has a Facebook page. Anything is possible. But right now, I’ll continue to pin recipes I’ll never make and crafts that I’ll never have time to complete.

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