Retail Pharmacy’s street fight in an online age

Posted by in Business Planning, Customer experience, Marketing, Operations, Pharmacy, Retail, Social media

We’ve seen remarkable change in our lifetimes, but what we’re experiencing now is different. It’s not just evolutionary change; it’s transformative change that requires us to alter our patterns of behaviour and learn new skills. Just having a nice store with nice products and services in a good location isn’t enough anymore.


Patients are seeking modern conveniences such as mobile apps that can connect them directly with their pharmacy, and community pharmacies must be willing and able to meet those needs. Although specific apps may not be feasible for certain pharmacies, the likelihood that patients are already using social media is high.

With social media establishing itself as a viable online marketing opportunity, how can pharmacists use technology to promote their practice and patient services?

It’s Time to Get Social

The most important point about social media is that it’s a marketing channel not a standalone marketing strategy. Your online marketing objectives should include aiming to grow your business, convert visitors, educate your visitors and/or engage your visitors with a social media plan that offers visibility and connection with patients, as well as convenience. The result can be time and money-related savings of your scarce resources for marketing, as well as increased patient loyalty.

Social media allows pharmacists to connect with their patients on another level, share health and prescription drug information (not advice), and discover ways to better educate and meet the needs of their patients. Are you considering using social media to promote your business in 2018? Need some facts and figures to help you form and execute your strategy? Keep these 2018 social media statistics in mind as you create your social media plan.

Find Your Audience

This phrase is used a lot when discussing social media marketing. And it sounds intuitive, right? You must find the people who will want or need your patient services and target your efforts towards them. But putting this phrase into practice can be a bit daunting. You might be asking yourself: Where is my audience? How do I find them?

The first step to answering this question is simple. You must understand the environment of each social media platform. Not only does the type of communication available on each platform differ, but the expectations for communication differ as well. It’s hard to keep up with the many types of social media. So, let’s break this down and look at the social mechanics of each site in this infographic that uses donuts to explain the differences.

Schedule Content as You Discover It

Creating an effective social media plan can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but by staying organized and planning as much in advance as possible, you can manage all your social media in one place by using a dashboard service for posting.

Both Hootsuite and Buffer offer free or paid options. On a free version they each allow up to three social sites to post to and on a paid basis; there are plans to suit your needs. If you’re early stage the best strategy to begin is to use both as a free service; that way you’ve got six sites you can post to.

Then measure the impact of your social media campaigns through comprehensive reporting. Both dashboard services come with robust analytics to help you get the most from your activity.  It’s easy to set up, but maintenance can be complicated, so it should be noted that a pharmacy should be running well before getting involved in social media because it needs to be consistent and maintained to be effective.

Social Media for Business

A large portion of social media activity should be generated by the pharmacy itself and should relate to non-promotional content, such as photos from pharmacy events and other activities. About 10% of the content should be generated elsewhere, such as health-related news from other sources, and another 10% of content should relate to promotions occurring at the pharmacy.

Health information is not enough. That’s just part of your strategy. It takes a human to do this. It must have that personal touch. It’s what makes your pharmacy your pharmacy.

Here’s a recommended posting frequency for the most popular social media sites used for business:

 Social Media Site
 Recommended Frequency
Twitter: 1 to 5 times per day
Pinterest: 3 times per week
Facebook: 1 x per day
Instagram: 1 x per day
LinkedIn: 1 x per day
Website/Blog: 1x per week


Experience Accumulates

Don’t get overwhelmed with all the options you hear about. Pick two or three to get started; dip your toe in the water, and wade into the pool from the shallow end first.

Above all…don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure to engage and have a conversation with your online community. It’s about humanity. That’s one of the reasons pharmacists are the most trusted health care professionals. They are human and have conversations. And it just might lead to your prospective customer making a visit to your pharmacy to engage with you and your team about your services.