Saam Ali explores community pharmacists’ use of social media and how it can be used to improve their businesses…
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand I despise it because it’s addictive, ruins my ability to focus, and it’s turned the world completely narcissistic. The selfie stick has become the bain of my existence.
On the other hand however, I can’t not love it. It’s why I’m writing this piece for you today, it’s been integral in the growth of my business and plays a crucial element in helping pharmacies develop new business.
Whether you love or hate social media, it affects pretty much every aspect of our lives and it cannot be ignored. If it’s not part of your business plan for 2019, then your business plan is simply incomplete.
There are so many channels of communication out there these days that it can be overwhelming. But that’s the thing. It doesn't need to be. Start off slow and then gradually build upon your base. Social media is a journey not a race.
I’m going to suggest three social media channels that you really ought to be using as a base for your digital marketing efforts going forward.
I say it time and time again. Facebook is probably the most important communication tool out there for community pharmacy. But it’s how you use it which counts. Organic engagement has taken a bit of a nose dive over the last year and therefore paid advertising is a must. When boosting your posts, try to include a call to action (CTA) that your audience can engage with. For example, send people to your online booking calendar where they can book in for the travel vaccines.
And don’t forget Facebook’s event feature too. Can you schedule some events this year and market them through Facebook?
Instagram seems to be gaining popularity every year and since it is connected to your Facebook page, is a must have tool. You’ll need to put some time into growing your audience locally but with the correct theme and persistence, Instagram will be powerful over time.
You can showcase your pharmacy services through daily posts, create live instagram stories from within your pharmacy and even sell products directly through the tool.
And because Instagram is linked to Facebook, you can send out paid adverts across both channels simultaneously. You’ll be able to see how many people your ad has reached and what kind of engagement you recieve.
Google My Business
I’ve harped on about Google My Business for about two years now and I just want to cement it in there for 2019. If you haven’t owned and validated your pharmacy on Google yet, please do so now.
This tool is how customers will perceive your pharmacy on Google search and maps. So making it aesthetically pleasing is in your best interest. But you can do so much more than add pictures and your opening hours.
You can actually talk to customers through it in real-time, add your pharmacy services to it and categorise your pharmacy in several ways.
For example, if you sell mobility scooters, you can add the category ‘mobility centre’ to your profile, making it visible to people for those keywords. It is tremendously powerful.
Update your business plan for 2019
Have you created a business plan for 2019? I sincerely hope you have. In that plan should be your marketing strategy. And within that marketing strategy should be your digital marketing strategy.
Like I mentioned before, there are loads of useful tools out there that you can use to drive footfall and attract more business. But start off with the correct base and move on from there.
If you’d like help with developing and delivering a digital marketing strategy for your pharmacy, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saam Ali is a community pharmacist and founder of Pharmacy Mentor.