As with every industry, social media marketing is beginning to be one of the most important pieces in successful marketing for any business.
And with Independent Pharmacies being negatively impacted by DIR fees and competition from big box retailers, marketing to increase business is a key component for survival.
I’ve been realizing more and more pharmacies are creating their social media accounts ready to spread their wings. And with that, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities in the strategy with lots of room for improvement. It seems as though the current social media strategy for most pharmacies are stuck on the traditional advertising strategies. I’m hoping this article will help you switch up your strategy to reach more potential patients and help you engage your patients and build your pharmacy’s brand.
So let’s talk about this new strategy…
When patients are scrolling through their social media feeds, like on Instagram or Facebook, they’re seeing all kinds of stuff, including your post about the new CBD product line you have for sale. They’ll then associate that post with your profile picture, and keep scrolling. If they open that app again, and your next post is about some other product you have for sale, over time, this will condition your patients to see the same type of post when ever they see your profile picture in their feed. You’ll also notice that most of these types of posts don’t get very much engagement. And that’s because everyone else on facebook is trying to sell them something. So they get numb to those types of posts.
The goal on social media is to create posts that bring value to your patients and content they’ll engage with, not posts that bring your pharmacy value.
So let’s get back to what I confused you with earlier, how you’re now the local newspaper. Instead of 100% of your social media posts advertising the products you sell, or that you are closing for the upcoming holiday, you need to start posting about your community just like your local newspaper would. It’s time to start posting news about the nearby businesses or events in your area. It’s time to start highlighting the sports teams at a local college or high school’s accomplishments. highlight the members of your team. Not that announcements of products, new services, or pharmacies closures are not important, they just can’t be all you post.
Let’s go through some examples and how this could play out.
Be it the Pizza Shop, Mechanic, Coffee Shop, or Thrift Store, highlighting a local business near your pharmacy is great for business! Not only is this actually interesting for your patients, the other business may also have their own social media and they may repost your content, exposing your pharmacy to more potential patients. You can talk about the grand opening of the coffee shop to the sale on synthetic oil at the local mechanic, and everything in between.
Little league football? High school basketball? Local water polo, lacrosse, wrestling team? At any given time of the year there is likely some sort of sport going on in your community. Post about it! Follow the news outlets in your community or the schools’ social media accounts to be in the know. People who play these sports likely have parents or other family members. When you highlight them on your social, they’ll likely mention it potentially leading you to a new patient.
Need help with the new strategy? Ask your team if they’d like to be involved. They could help with posting content, or at least sending you, or who ever has access to your social media accounts to post. Another way to get your team involved is by doing quick interviews of them. You could have them tell a piece of trivia every Tuesday or have them talk about their hobbies. No need for expensive equipment to do this either, just use your smartphone. These types of posts drive the relationship building with your patients to help you stand out from the competition.
As a business owner, anytime you invest time or money in anything, you have to ask the question, what is the ROI? That’s business 101. But social media marketing, and branding for that matter, does not allow for traditional measurements of ROI. Branding is not the same as selling.
While you can run targeted strategic campaigns during specific periods for specific products and services, it’s just not realistic to traditionally analyze the ROI on your social media strategy. Plus, companies measuring these types of things are usually a team of people specifically dedicated to this. But you’re likely just one person, or part of a small team of other owners, likely asking your staff or a family member to help with your marketing. With that being said, if your mind set is like most owners, wanting to see the immediate ROI on your efforts, you can kiss your social media strategy, any one that you have in place now or in the future, goodbye.
For example, here’s how you think ROI should work: You post on facebook about the Yankee candles you sell, and you tell patients to show them the post and they get 10% off. Then you measure if you sold more candles or not.
But with this new social media strategy in place, here’s how it would actually play out: You post about the the new pizza place that just opened not too far away from the pharmacy. Someone in your town sees that post, and goes to the pizza place. That person tells an employee at the pizza place they saw a post on your Pharmacy’s social media. Then later that week, that employee from the pizza place gets a prescription, but never used a pharmacy before and all of a sudden, you have a brand new patient. But that employee never mentions the interaction with the patient who saw your original post, putting you in a scenario where you were not able to directly measure the ROI of that post. You’re probably thinking wow, what a crazy hypothetical. I get that. But in reality, the more can execute on this strategy, the more chances you give for a hypothetical like this to be a reality. Just keep in mind, it won’t be easy to measure, so stick with it!
Okay, so you’re ready to execute. Where do you start? First thing you need to do, and this may seem obvious, is to make sure you have access to your social media accounts. Don’t have one? Make one. I’d definitely have a business facebook page, Instagram and Twitter account for your pharmacy. I’m aware some companies that provide social media marketing will charge you and then post everything for you and that’s fine. But to at least try this strategy you’re likely going to have to take over, so make sure you have access.
Next step, start posting. Keep in mind that posting doesn’t have to be all original content you create. Sharing other people’s posts are also part of posting on your social media. For example, when I post on the Rx Radio social media pages, some of the content that is posted on there is original. Take this article for example, your reading this link of an article which I originally created on Medium.com and posted it on my social platforms. But don’t think you need to create a full like article like this one. You can always just share someone else’s original post. Also, your posts don’t always have to include images, links, or videos. It can be just text. A simple “Congrats to the Winter High Water Polo team” would do.
Other than getting over the ROI thing, another hard thing to take in about this new strategy is that it is difficult to outsource. While it is attractive to hope someone else can do this for you, it’s only you or your local team who are the best to post about what is happening in your community. And I know that poses a challenge, where would you find the time? Just start slow, and once you get used to it, it’ll start to come natural, become easier, and before you know it, your pharmacy will be posting 10 times a day.
I really hope this was helpful. I think there’s much more one can go through about a social media strategy, but I hope this can at least give you a jump start. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or want to talk more specifics, I’d love to help.
Thanks for reading!
Richard Waithe, PharmD | Richard@vucahealth.com
President | VUCA Health
Host | Rx Radio Podcast
At VUCA Health, we help independent pharmacies save money on paper and toner with our digital patient education solution. No need to print patient education sheets or med guides with MedsOnCue. Learn more at vucahealth.com/gopaperless.
Dr. Richard is the Founder of MedVize, a personal medication management company and is the host of Rx Radio, a podcast dedicated the pharmacy profession. He is a pharmacist who is committed to helping individuals better manage their health and medications. He is passionate about advancing the profession of pharmacy with a focus on machine learning and blockchain technologies. His mission is to provide people with understandable knowledge to best manage their health while ensuring their medications are convenient, affordable, safe, and effective. Dr. Richard holds a Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Florida, and fun fact, although living in sunny Miami, Florida, he loves snowboarding.