Now is the time for independent pharmacies to shine online.
Now is the time for independent pharmacies to shine online. As consumers continue to seek out local businesses that can provide personalized experiences, social media hacks that simplify Facebook marketing for pharmacies are more important than ever to help you create a more authentic, engaging digital presence.
One of the many things that make independent pharmacies so special is the close connection they have with their communities. But sometimes, as we've seen during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, spending time with patients in person isn't always an option. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost though. By maintaining an active Facebook presence, you can reach new customers and nurture meaningful relationships with your existing patients even when they can’t step foot in your store.
For some pharmacies, communicating with the community at large via social media comes naturally. For others, Facebook marketing for pharmacies can feel intimidating or overwhelming. But dormant accounts mean lost opportunities, so check out these 8 marketing tips on how to run a successful pharmacy Facebook page by creating daily posts that spark engagement.
Build trust by speaking up
Communities rely on their local pharmacy as a trusted resource for health and wellness guidance. Right now when times are uncertain and you may not be seeing your patients as often as usual, it's especially important not to go silent online.
Sure, it might be easy to push Facebook to the bottom of your to-do list, but that's not in the best interest of your pharmacy or your patients. The average American spends more than 2 hours per day on social media, and nearly 50% of people over 65 years of age use Facebook. The bottom line is that Facebook is one platform that’s definitely worth your time and effort.
If you need some motivation, consider this example. A Good Neighbor Pharmacy with 6 locations across Pennsylvania and New Jersey started on Facebook from scratch at the beginning of COVID-19. After 4 months of steady activity, they grew to more than 1500 followers across their pages. They've been filming live Facebook videos, posting updates about their staff members, holding Facebook contests, and even expanded their social media presence to Instagram. These actions have helped foster personal connections with patients and generated many positive comments on their Facebook page.
In the words of the pharmacy owner, "These digital experiences are helping us maintain personal relationships with our patients when the in-store and in-person experiences aren't possible."
Talk about steps your pharmacy is taking during the pandemic
Independent pharmacy content planning is important, but how do you decide what to share during a pandemic when there's so much happening? Looking at social media activity across the industry, it’s easy to see that the posts receiving the most attention aren't just about COVID-19; it’s the posts that talk more specifically about how pharmacies are responding to the pandemic that see the best engagement. This includes posts letting patients know about changes in services like curbside pickup and delivery, key updates on in-store procedures and safety measures, and even simple reminders that let patients know your pharmacy is still there for them during this time.
When you're posting about the pandemic, try to keep the morale high and remember to talk about how your pharmacy is handling COVID-related concerns. I've seen posts like these getting thousands of engagements—numbers a pharmacy might not typically see during calmer times.
Assign a social media point person
So how do you run a successful pharmacy Facebook page? If you're worried about keeping up with your posts once you get started, remember that you don't have to shoulder that responsibility all by yourself. A great hack for staying active on social media is designating a social media point person and allotting time in their schedule to handle those duties. Look for someone in your pharmacy who is social media savvy and willing to take on a new responsibility. Even if someone else fills in occasionally, having one assigned person who leads the effort ensures your channel stays active and posts daily.
Keep a content calendar
Drafting posts in advance will help you avoid scrambling every day to think of what to communicate to your pharmacy patients. I recommend your social media point person sits down at the beginning of each month to draft posts for the upcoming weeks so they're ready to go.
Begin by deciding what your pharmacy's priorities are for the upcoming month. Is there a sale? Is something special happening in the pharmacy? Is there a specific initiative you want to communicate? Start there and then build out your content calendar, sprinkling in a variety of content as you go, including educational information, staff features, and more.
Independent pharmacy content planning can seem a bit intimidating if you're new to social media, but keep in mind that it doesn't have to be fancy. Your content calendar can be a simple Word document, Excel sheet or a note in your phone—wherever it’s easiest to capture your ideas.
Pre-schedule your posts
After you make your calendar, start scheduling posts. You can do this with the Creator Studio in the Facebook Business Manager or you can use other free social media tools like Hootsuite. Schedule as much as you can, but leave some wiggle room so you have the flexibility to make last-minute posts. Things will pop up on occasion and you want to be able to fit them in.
Continue writing about your pharmacy's breaking news even after the pandemic
When the pandemic subsides, don't forget all the lessons you learned from COVID-19. Patients turn to Facebook for updates about what's new with your pharmacy. If there's another emergency situation, such as a natural disaster or even a bad flu outbreak in your region, you'll want to use Facebook to provide tips and communicate to patients about what your pharmacy is doing.
Develop a list of content ideas to keep things fresh over time
You don't want your Facebook page to get stale by posting about the same things all the time. Whether it’s educational or promotional, anything can be exhausting if you’re too repetitive, so keep a running list of content ideas for when you're feeling stuck. Skim the list when it’s time to draft your content calendar and chances are it will spark some creativity.
For an independent pharmacy, Facebook post ideas should flow naturally considering how quickly things change as you keep pace with the evolving needs of your community. If you recently launched a new patient care service, or you’re thinking about introducing one, that’s a great opportunity to incorporate related topics into your posts. For example, if you plan to launch a weekly webinar series on nutrition, don’t just announce the dates and times on Facebook and leave it at that. Start adding topical tidbits about nutrition into your content calendar and lean into your expertise.
For other ideas that can spark engagement, consider weekly topics like Throwback Thursdays, Motivation Mondays, quotes, community events, holidays, patient spotlights, pets, and contests.
Promote your pharmacy proudly
As an independent pharmacy, you can make your own rules when it comes to how much content should be promotional vs. educational vs. just plain fun. You can get away with more promotional posts than other businesses because of the strength of your relationships and the loyalty of your patients. Don’t be shy about self-promotion; your patients are your biggest supporters and cheerleaders for your business.
You might find it intimidating to fully commit to social media. But now, in the middle of a pandemic, is the best time to leverage Facebook as a tool to stay connected with your patients. Just follow these 8 tips and you'll find that engaging with your neighbors every day online can be incredibly rewarding.