Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are Pinterest Women & Virality Worth It to Pharma Marketers?

Once again I am responding to a Pharmaforum guest blogger post that was promoted by the author (Kelley Connors) on Twitter: "How Pinterest Creates the Love for #Healthcare #Marketers #hcsm #pharma #womenshealth #socialmedia @pharmaforum ow.ly/c8jiF"

Connors' post, entitled "Understand the rules of engagement with Pinterest" (here), starts out with this observation:

"Since healthcare is such a personalized experience, and 90% of healthcare decisions are made by women, I find it interesting that more healthcare marketers aren’t exploring Pinterest."

She forgot to add that 82% of Pinterest users are women (see data in this infographic).

Pinterest, according to Connors, beats Twitter hands down in terms of "engagement" and "virality."

"Remarkably," says Connors, "over 80% of pins are repins, demonstrating the impressive level of virality at work in the Pinterest community. By contrast, a study conducted by HubSpot at a similar point in Twitter’s history found roughly only 1.4% of tweets were retweets."

From my experience, Twitter drives much more traffic to websites than does Pinterest. I learned about Connors and her post, for example, via Twitter, not Pinterest. What's the purpose of "virality" if it doesn't drive people to your website where you can "close" the deal (ie, get subscriptions, distribute coupons, etc.)? Maybe it's different for shoes than for Rx drugs or B2B pharma marketing news items.

There is one other very important reason why pharmaceutical marketers do not use Pinterest: they cannot turn off or moderate comments like they can with Facebook and YouTube. The only Pinterest comment editing option -- as far as I know -- is to delete the pin and repin it without the comments. That is draconian (it deletes ALL comments, not just offending one) and labor intensive. Pharma is not only worried about possible adverse events mentioned in comments, but also off-label claims. For more on this, read "What's Your Infographics Strategy?" (use discount code 'pgpin4').

These problems may never arise if pharma pins only innocuous images and videos on Pinterest. That is, pins whose purpose is to generate goodwill, share disease information, promote corporate responsibility, and broadcast other non-branded messages. All of which are of no interest to pharmaceutical marketers who want to promote brands.

For some reason, however, Pinterest is of interest to a few pharma corporate communicators and PR preople. Therefore, you do see a few Pinterest sites that obviously are corporate PR campaigns. Unfortunately, however, the demographics of Pinterest (82% women and mostly consumers) is NOT the target demographic of PR people who want to reach mostly reporters and investors.

Ergo, IMHO, as long as Pinterest does not have a pharma-friendly commenting policy, it will not interest pharma marketers even though its "women's world"/consumer demographic and virality is enticing to them. In addition, Pinterest will not generate much ROI on pharma PR investment. Eventually, the pharma Pinterest pioneers, few though they may be, will drop out even though, as Connors surmises, the Pinterest net "attrition rate" overall is "close to 0%."


  1. Here in the UK, just over half of Pinterest users are men. I't would be interesting to see how this affected your theory? I wonder if there are implications for international companies depending on which industry you are in?

  2. in my experience most pinterest users are men, so I'm not really sure about your theory...


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