Pharmacists can reach the members of their community through creative use of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
TikTok isn’t just a social media platform—it’s a sensation. Although the platform may be seen as a Gen Z stronghold—just over 52% of all users worldwide are between the ages of 18 and 241—people from all demographics find themselves scrolling through the app.2
“In today’s social media-driven world, TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for businesses and brands,” said Brandon Wilkes, a social media marketing expert. “With more than 800 million active users, TikTok offers a unique and engaging way to reach a large and diverse audience. For pharmacies, TikTok can be used to create short, creative videos that promote products or services—or to simply raise awareness about their brand.”
And then there’s Instagram, a platform where users share photos and videos featuring hashtags and—very important to local businesses—geographic tagging. Instagram has a reported up to 2 billion active users each month, and many independent pharmacists have created Instagram accounts for their pharmacies where customers can learn about new products, sales, and industry trends.
As with any marketing effort, the goal of TikTok and Instagram use is, of course, to entice followers to walk into the pharmacy. One of the best ways to do that is to create quality and entertaining videos and interesting photo content.
Jon Morgan, CEO and editor-in-chief of Venture Smarter, a consulting firm that specializes in helping small businesses scale and grow, explained that when it comes to marketing, pharmacists may not immediately think of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok; however, there are numerous reasons why pharmacists should consider utilizing these channels for marketing.
“First and foremost, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become increasingly popular among consumers, particularly [among] younger demographics,” he said. “By establishing a presence on these platforms, pharmacists can reach a wider audience and potentially attract new customers. Additionally, social media provides an opportunity to build brand awareness and engage with customers in a more personal and interactive way.”
Pharmacists at Heartland Apothecary Compounding Pharmacy in Knoxville, Tennessee regularly post TikToks3 about preparing capsules and packing medicine, as well as other aspects of pharmacy, including sales and new products offered. Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a network of independent pharmacies, has an Instagram following of more than 21004; the account showcases member pharmacies, highlights products, and each week answers an important question related to the industry. One of the latest was “Can I take supplements while taking a prescription medicine?”
What can pharmacists do to make these channels work for them? It all starts with creating engaging content.
“To capture the attention of users on Instagram and TikTok, pharmacists should focus on creating content that is visually appealing and informative,” Morgan said. “This could include short educational videos about medication safety, healthy living tips, or even behind-the-scenes glimpses of the pharmacy.”
Hashtags are a great way to increase the visibility of social media posts. Pharmacists should identify relevant hashtags related to their content and include them in their posts to help users find and engage with their content.
Morgan also suggested partnering with influencers on Instagram and TikTok, as they can help pharmacists reach new audiences and build credibility. “Consider working with influencers who have a following in the health and wellness space to promote products or services,” he says.
Social media is a 2-way conversation, so it’s important for pharmacists to engage with their followers on both platforms, responding to comments and messages in a timely manner and encouraging feedback and questions from followers.
Pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, and sharing educational content is an excellent way to establish themselves as experts in their field. Instagram and TikTok provide an opportunity to share bite-sized pieces of educational content that are easy for viewers to digest. For example, pharmacists can share tips on how to take medication correctly, the benefits of certain vitamins or supplements, or how to manage a chronic condition.
Joe Karasin, owner of digital marketing company Karasin PPC, noted that the overall reach of these channels is explosive, and it’s easy to slide into people’s feeds. “Reels are the main form of content on Instagram, with other items [such as photos] being deprioritized in the general feed, especially from business accounts,” he said. “However, the Reels feed pulls content from all over, so if a user has ever liked or watched a Reel about health topics, then a pharmacist can have their Reel seen by potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers.”
Meanwhile, TikTok has a “For You” page, which enables pharmacists to reach a wide swath of platform users—especially those who have engaged with health care content. For users who are looking for specific health care content, a search with the words “pharmacy” and “question” returns videos of hundreds of pharmacists answering followers’ questions.
For pharmacists ready to move beyond just content creation, both platforms offer some savvy advertising options. Pharmacists can use these tools to target specific groups of people or specific user interests, which can help them find the perfect audience for their products and services. This kind of advertising can make their marketing campaigns work better, leading to increased foot traffic and sales.