Pinterest: Use Cases for the Medical Community



I find social media fascinating. As a member of Generation X, I didn’t grow up with the internet. In fact, I was only introduced to the “real” internet in graduate school, and even then, I was accessing it with Gopher. (If you’re too young to know what Gopher is, go look it up. Gopher access is boring by today’s standards, but it was out-of-this-world to me at the time.)

“Social media” in various forms, has been around for quite some time, but has become more ubiquitous with the creation of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms. The use of social media platforms by medical professionals (for something other than personal use or keeping tabs on family and friends) is still somewhat in its infancy. Communities of professionals are popping up on Twitter, and groups exist on LinkedIn and Facebook for sharing and collaboration. Due to regulatory and privacy concerns, the move to social media among this group is slower than it otherwise could be.

pinterestWhat is Pinterest?

There is some debate as to whether Pinterest is actually social media, by definition. Regardless, it is an online tool in which you ‘pin’ images and content to ‘boards’ that you’ve created. These boards are associated with your personal profile. They can be public or private, and if public, are searchable by other Pinterest users. Boards can be further categorized into ‘sections’, allowing for more granular organization of your pins.

Think of boards as the virtual equivalent of a physical bulletin board, and pins as pictures and articles that you cut out of a magazine or catalog to tack on your board. Each bulletin board (should) cover specific topics, and thus, you have an organized way of keeping track of your pins. The magic of this tool is that, beyond it’s use as an effective visual categorization system, each pin can contain notes and text, can link to anything on the internet, and other users can add photos and comments to your pins.

CDC Pinterest
As with other social media platforms, you can follow others and see what they’re posting, and they can follow you. People can also follow specific boards instead of following an individual (and thus, their entire collection of boards). This comes in handy in cases where an individual has boards covering home decorating, wedding prep, gardening and medical education, and your only interest is medical education.

How can Pinterest be used by medical professionals and students?

There are limitless possible uses for Pinterest by students, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Below are just some examples of how the tool can be used. An important point to make about Pinterest vs. other social media platforms is that its strength lies in your ability to group and categorize what you find in a way that makes it easy to access at any time in the future. The following ideas can all be implemented, in one way or another, using other platforms, but Pinterest offers longevity and retrieval capabilities that the other platforms don’t.

If you’ve found a creative way to use Pinterest in your professional practice, please contact me and let me know!

  • Education – I personally use Pinterest primarily for education. There is an enormous number of fantastic images to be used for medical education. There are also many pins that link back to great reference web sites, blogs, YouTube videos, etc. Pinterest is the best social media tool to use for categorization, storage and easy retrieval of the vast amount of material out there.
  • Idea Archive – Create an archive of ideas, articles, or interesting things to follow up on. Pinterest’s categories are perfect for capturing and organizing what you find.
  • Research Archival and Promotion – Are you working on or have you published research? Make your work available on Pinterest in the form of infographics, summarizing your work and linking back to the original content. Pinterest is made for infographics and summarization, so if you create your own pin, be sure it is visually compelling and informative.
  • Promotion – Pinterest is a great way to promote your own products, tools, educational materials, etc. Well-crafted original pins that include links and text are a fantastic way to get your content out. Pinterest search optimization and analytics are beyond the scope of this article, but it is important to develop an understanding of them to get your content in front of people (or know someone who can help you with this). However, don’t let a lack of SEO knowledge keep you from getting started!
  • Conferences and Events – Are you promoting an upcoming medical conference or event? Are you presenting at an upcoming event? Get the word out using well designed images and graphics.

Give Pinterest a Try

If you have a Pinterest account already, but haven’t thought about how you might use the tool professionally, take a look around. If you’re new to Pinterest, set up a new account and try it out. Search, create boards, pin items, and see how you might use it for your own benefit. Check out my Pinterest boards for some examples, and give me (or one or more of my boards) a follow!

If you’re interested in some information about Pinterest, check out my infographic below. Click on the infographic to be taken to Pinterest, where you’ll be able to review it in more detail. Enjoy!

pinterest infographic
Pinterest Infographic (Link to Pinterest)

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