Using Pinterest in Hospital Marketing: A Case Study


We talk about innovation a lot in healthcare marketing. But how often do we see it IRL (in real life)?

That’s why I was blown away when I saw Jen Jenkins and Kelley Whalen’s presentation about their Pinterest campaigns for the University of Utah Health Care. They started with 10 followers in 2012, and grew to 1,200 with promoted pin campaigns. Now, in 2017, they have 4,300 followers. Even though they don’t run as many ads, the boards still gets repins daily.

Learn how their trial and error attitude, along with their spirit of curiosity and pursuit of their audiences’ desires, led them to an incredibly successful Pinterest presence.

Project Background

Kelley served as the marketing manager for Women’s Health and thought Pinterest was a natural tie in to that audience. Kelley’s background includes completing a master’s in Scotland and working in marketing for a local physician’s office for five years prior to joining University of Utah. She describes her healthcare marketing career as something she serendipitously fell into.

Kelley knew from her personal experience on Pinterest that it provided an amazing opportunity for marketers. The natural swapping of pins created a community of people invested in sharing content. And since the majority of users were women, it was clear they had found a target audience.

“I noticed that not many health systems were utilizing Pinterest”, Kelley told me. “I approached my boss and he said let’s try it. Jen was our content media maven and she was the natural fit for this project.”

Jen, a native of Salt Lake City, has a theater background. When the economy tanked in 2008, she went into communications. Jen worked on some medical apps and learned how to work with doctors and subject matter experts in that position. Perfect for what she was about to do next.

Setting up the Campaigns

The dynamic duo discovered early on they did best when they created their own original health content. They also set up different boards according to age and topic matters that they knew were of importance to their audience.

“We got ideas from two places,” Jen explained. “The first was from watching who pinned our content and what they were pinning. The second was from our friends. Even though we weren’t necessarily having babies or getting married, or doing what they did, we got a lot of ideas from sharing with women about what women would want to see.”

Jen and Kelley noticed early on that back-to-school and seasonal topics did really well, which led them to create different boards focused on areas they knew from their research were popular with women of all ages. The team also shared other people’s content, “because part of being on a community is supporting your community,” Jen explained.

Deciding on Board Setup

I was curious about how they decided each type of board to create. Kelley was also the marketing manager for cardiovascular health and wanted to cross reference a lot of that information, which is why they created the Women’s Heart Health board.

“It was a lot of tinkering, but mostly it was based on what the audience was interested in,” explains Jen. “We used a lot of our HealthFeed blog content and repurposed it. We were also really open to feedback and we weren’t afraid to use trial and error. We knew things could bomb or do really well and we just had a spirit of curiosity about it.”

“We also noticed that when content gets specific, for example an infographic on, Tactics to Slim Down at Work, we had more success,” commented Jen. “We found jobs the audience wanted to get done and we focused on those. We also picked a lot of things that spoke to us, as we defined the personas. Jen and I were part of the target audience, and we knew that helped us shape which content to share and create,” said Kelley.

Kelley now works at the University of Kentucky, but she and Jen say they have maintained their friendship. Who knows what they will do next? Stay tuned for more creative and most importantly, innovative ideas, from marketers who were willing to try something new without fear. After all, the patient populations we serve are brave every day. Why shouldn’t we be?

Check out Kelley and Jen’s presentation: Pin to Win: Using Pinterest for Health Care Marketing