Social media is a must these days for independent pharmacies. An online presence provides a viable opportunity for marketing, education, and discussion with patients and the public.
Although social media marketing has numerous advantages, it came come with some pitfalls that can harm your image and turn away patients. Are you making any of these eight all-to-common mistakes?
1. Mixing personal and professional
The primary way to prevent social media mistakes is to separate personal and professional profiles. Your private account and your pharmacy’s account should have no affiliation. This helps to maintain professionalism by minimizing the potential for controversial or unprofessional posts connected to your pharmacy.
If you are concerned about accidental intermingling of these accounts, try designating a specific computer in your pharmacy as the sole hub for using your pharmacy’s social media pages. By diminishing access to the account, you are diminishing the potential for slip-ups.
2. Not responding to online complaints
Few things are more frustrating than unresponsive customer service. And while many independent community pharmacies pride themselves on exceptional customer service, what they often don’t realize is how that should translate to their online presence.
Today, many customers (including your patients!) take to the internet to express their frustration (or satisfaction) following business transactions. Monitoring these interactions on social media can give you insight into patients’ perceptions and bring attention to previously unidentified issues.
Reply in a timely and genuine manner to show the individual that you value the input. Responding quickly and appropriately will also demonstrate your focus on customer service to the masses.
3. Only focusing on the number of followers
Another common issue that plagues pharmacy social media accounts is feeling insignificant. Without a sizable following, it can feel like your messages are just a raindrop in a deluge, deceiving you into viewing the whole task as unworthy of your time and effort.
But the power of social media doesn’t rest in the number of connections you have (although that never hurts), but the quality. Even a small following can reap benefits, as long as they are loyal customers or the target audience for your pharmacy.
4. Randomly (or never) posting updates
Without consistent and engaging posts, followers may lose interest in your pharmacy’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep your content varied by mixing educational and pharmacy-related messages with customer service responses and purely entertaining comments on current or community events.
Your social media sites also need proper promotion to be successful. Include information about your social media pages on all advertisements or marketing you do for your pharmacy.
Also, place signage in your store with a call-to-action that explains the benefits of connecting with your pharmacy on social media to stir customers’ interest.
5. Taking on too much
With all the different social media platforms online now, you might feel like you need a presence on every site. But you don’t need Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok to build a successful online presence.
If you try to create an account on every single social media site, you’ll probably end up spreading yourself too thin. You won’t be able to genuinely connect with your audience on every platform, either.
Instead, focus on the social media platforms where your target demographics spend the most time. Far and away, Facebook has the most users, the most frequent usage, and the broadest demographics. Twitter and Instagram skew younger, with 40 percent of users in the 18 to 29 range.
6. Forgetting your tools
Juggling social media accounts with your everyday pharmacy duties can be difficult — and it’s even harder when you’re not taking advantage of all the tech tools at your disposal.
Use post schedulers like Buffer or Hootsuite to get your social posts on the calendar in advance instead of trying to remember them throughout the day. And if you need graphics, use free tools like Canva or Stencil instead of trying to DIY your designs.
Also remember to use the metrics tools at your fingertips. By paying attention to how well your posts perform, you can plan more effective posts rather than sending duds out into the void of the internet.
7. Disregarding your marketing plan
Remember that your social media pages aren’t just a fun bonus for your pharmacy — they should be an integral part of your overall marketing plan. How you use your social pages should align with your overall marketing goals.
When you plan your posts, think about how they will appeal to your target market and align with the SMART goals you’ve set for your pharmacy marketing.
One of the great things about social media is that it’s free, but don’t shy away from investing a little bit of money when it will help you get your message out. The occasional promoted post or well-targeted ad can go a long way in spreading the word about your pharmacy.
If you don’t have a marketing plan yet, rectify that by using this five-step process.
8. Violating HIPAA regulations
The final, and perhaps most discouraging, pitfall of social media for pharmacists is the potential for violation of the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Create a social media policy and set simple guidelines for posting content to make sure you stay compliant. You should also add a section on social media to your employee handbook so that your entire staff is informed of the risks and so they know what is appropriate to post on their personal accounts.
Remember that even when patient names aren’t used, it’s sometimes still possible to figure out the patient’s identity and end up in violation, so avoid patient-related posts entirely on both personal and professional social media accounts.
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PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The member-owned company serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.