A picture is worth 1000 words

I have to admit I am kind of obsessed with Pinterest.  At first, I was a bit skeptical, but once I started exploring the millions of “pins” that are available, I became hooked! Favorite recipes, party decorations, and home decor ideas – Pinterest has it all! My morning routine starts with checking my Pinterest and seeing what pins are suggested to me. What I like most about Pinterest, is that it is a great example of a “positive reinforcement social media” tool. By that I mean that Pinterest suggests pins to you, based on what you have added to your board in the past. But somehow this isn’t done in the creepy way that Google adds does it. It’s more of a friendly suggestion!

So how can this multimedia tool be used for public health? Well, at first I was skeptical that it can, but after doing some research, I found a few helpful ways that Pintrest can be useful:

1. It can quickly capture the reader’s attention:

For example, here is a Pin from CDC on  measles

Infographic. Measles: it isn’t just a little rash. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Measles symptoms typically include high fever (may spike to more than 104 degrees F), cough, runny nose, red watery eyes; rash breaks out 3-6 days after symptoms begin. Measles can be serious. About 1 out of 4 people who get measles will be hospitalized. 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis), which may lead to brain damage. 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care. You have the power to protect your child. Provide your children with safe and long-lasting protection agains measles by making sure they get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine according to CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.

This pin grabbed my attention, because it was brief, easy to understand, and relevant. Once I clicked on the picture, I was taken to CDC’s website, where I could view the same picture in Spanish, read about the ongoing initiatives to spread awareness about the disease, and find other sources of information.

2. It can elicit emotions quickly:

July 20th 2011   The United Nations declares a famine in southern Somalia, the first in over thirty years.

It is nearly impossible to look at pictures like this and not feel any type of emotion. When a picture like this shows up in my feed, I want to not only click on it, but also do whatever I can to help the cause. This particular picture was used to raise awareness of hunger in various regions of Africa.

3. It can be used to generate campaign awareness

This particular campaign is centered towards promoting safe sex habits amongst young gay men. Again, this is a great example of how a picture and a short slogan can be used to generate followers and attention. By adding this pin to one’s board, the user can follow other similar  campaigns and learn more information about the topic.

4. Appealing to a younger generation

Did you know that keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness? Download and share this poster (in English or Spanish) to celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week! http://go.usa.gov/W7vw

Pinterest can also be used is to appeal to a younger generation to raise awareness of public health issues. The “keep calm” slogans have been trending on social media for awhile, so using it to gain Pinterest users can be a successful way to raise awareness. This pin was posted by the CDC, to bring attention to various hygiene posters and banners that can be displayed in schools and other places to bring attention to proper hygiene

5. Making statistics easier to understand

Transgender Awareness Week: Stand Up For Trans Youth! | Fenway Focus | Fenway Health Blog

This pin was used by Fenway Health to increase transgender awareness and provide useful statistics to help followers understand the importance of this issue.

Overall, Pinterest is a great multimedia tool to use for public health, because it allows organizations to share meaningful pictures that can generate awareness and support from their followers!


5 thoughts on “A picture is worth 1000 words

  1. Great post Luda! I would never associate pinterest as a way to connect with public health professionals and create public health pins for health reasons. I was actually shocked to see your blog post, I always thought pinterest was for weddings and decorating?! Wow! I think you made excellent points; there are so many different kinds of users on pinterest, including the younger generation, moms, etc…What a great way to begin spreading important public health messages and campaigns.

  2. I really liked the way you included pictures to illustrate your point. I also thought you came up with good ideas for using Pinterest for public health. I think it might be useful to suggest the pins where you found these examples. Also, how would you choose where to pin your post?

    • Hey Julie. One of the ways that Pinterest differs from other social media sites is that the popularity of pins is mostly driven by users. In fact, I more than 80% of the photos on Pinterest are “repins”, rather than original photos (http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/pin-images-pinterest-on-iphone/93216). So, to answer your question, when pinning a photo, I try to add them either to an existing board, or I create a board that I think would be popular among others. The more you “repin” posts from others, the more followers you will get, and as such, the more people will see the photos you pin. You could search some boards that are of interest to you and then add your pins specifically to that board. I found a short tutorial of how to pin and repin – hope this helps!


  3. Hi Luda,

    I really like how you lived up to your blog post’s title!! Just as Julie commented, you let the pictures do all the explaining. I agree with you that Pinterest is addictive! Ever since I created a Pinterest account, I keep noticing one pin after another that’s interesting and that provides information that is visually appealing and easy to understand in a quick glance. I agree with Jennifer’s comment above – when I first heard about Pinterest, I thought it was the hot spot for to be bride’s and people who needed ideas to decorate their houses. It has been an eye-opening experience for me as well ever since I discovered all the other facets of Pinterest and more importantly how it can be used to relay public health messages. I think it’s great that public health professionals have latched on to this idea. I’m becoming more and more aware of how it’s important for public health organizations to penetrate the web by using social media tools and multimedia sharing sites.

    I have to agree with you that the second picture, depicting hunger in Africa, really evokes strong emotion. What a powerful tool. I think a big part of trying to get the public to donate to humanitarian causes is to increase the salience of them first. I often think that a lot of us are living in a bubble and that we take things for granted. It’s less likely that we will turn on the TV and watch a documentary and read articles about problems that developing nations are facing. However, seeing an image like this, especially if it was suggested by Pinterest (rather than something a user would actively search for) instantly increases salience about global issues. I like how you are taken to the source website when you click on the image. It really makes you realize that information and knowledge are often just a click away.

    One little suggestion I have is that it would be helpful to hyperlink the images (or part of the text that you used to describe the images) so that the readers could see where the image came from and learn more about the public health organizations behind the images. I noticed that you did this for all the images except the second (the picture of the African woman) which might have happened by accident. Overall great post, you covered a variety of topics through the use of images and you’ve shed some light on the broad uses of Pinterest!

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