The internet is the place where most modern consumers spend a lot of their time, and everything they find on the internet about your pharmacy, whether you control it or not, is a representation of your business.

We’ve talked a lot about a website being the hub for your pharmacy online to inform consumers about what it is you offer. Whether that’s services, dispensing, retail or even health advice – it’s important that your website brings it all together to deliver the answers to your customers questions on a daily basis.

So if your website is servicing this need all in one place, what’s the point of being on Facebook or Instagram, or sending emails to customers? The reality is, these are the tools that help make noise about your website to get it in front of your customers. If your website is the destination, these platforms are the vehicles to get customers there. These are the tools that help you connect with your community, stay relevant, and give them a reason to visit you online or in store.

Every platform has different styles, different users and different technical capabilities. So to get the best bang for your buck, you should think about what you’re trying to achieve, then use the platform that best–meets that criteria. Let’s work through some of these options, and talk about when you might use each one.

Facebook: Your core social platform

Facebook is really the best social platform for a pharmacy business. For one, it’s widely used across all ages and demographics – if your customers were going to be on just one platform, it would probably be Facebook.

People generally use Facebook to connect with one another – they want to learn about and interact with others. This means that there is an enormous opportunity for pharmacies to post information about their staff and run peer-to-peer sharing posts, increasing the outreach and creating a hub for customers, that are connected to the community.

One of the challenges with using Facebook is that Facebook makes it very hard to get your content into peoples’ newsfeeds, unless you pay for it to be promoted. But this has a few silver linings. For one, it means you don’t have to post as often. If you post every day, people are probably not going to see much more of your content than they would if you posted once a week.

For two, you can pay fairly nominal sums to promote your content into peoples’ Facebook feeds. $100 a month or so will get your content in front of thousands of people. This is a lot more predictable and easy to manage than trying to perfectly tune your content to make people like it, share it and comment on it. Rather, it’s just a straight financial transaction – if you want more people to see what you have to say, just put more money in the system. Easy!

The last thing to remember about Facebook is that its audience is fairly broad. So it’s a great place to get your content in front of new potential customers, or to remind existing customers that you exist. Other platforms are a bit more niche, which we’ll get to in a second.

Email: You've got mail

If you’re not collecting email addresses from your customers to be able to email them about what’s going on in the pharmacy and highlight deals, special events or new services then it’s the thing you should start doing today.

A list of email addresses for people opted in to receive mail from you is like gold. With email, there is no business like Facebook or Google in the middle, charging you to reach your hard earned customers. It is a much more personal, direct approach to reaching your customers. It is essentially a 1 on 1 conversation between your pharmacy and your customer, the online equivalent of an addressed, sealed and posted letter.

The key with email, is to ensure your content is as relevant as it can be to the people on your mailing list. You worked hard to grow your list, so don’t give your subscribers a reason to unsubscribe! Encourage people to open your emails by keeping your subject line short and catchy (there are free email subject line graders like this one to help you).

The conversations happening in store can be a useful indication of what to write about in the content of your emails. Are your customers looking for relief from the symptoms of hayfever? Is there a flurry of demand for Vitamin C? Why not answer the common questions posed about specific health conditions and supplements in a quick email linking to more comprehensive info and product listings on your website.

It is still the most powerful tool in a digital marketer’s toolkit – and it doesn’t have to be complicated to be successful.

Instagram: Get visual

Instagram is an image based social media platform that focuses on providing visually appealing images that attract followers. It is a social media where users want to be entertained through beautiful personal photography. Influencers have made millions selling through Instagram, so it can work but it certainly requires an eye for photography and consistency! Instagram also has stories, which are much more "raw" videos and photos, because they disappear after 24 hours. To get people to engage with your Instagram stories, you’ll have to post quite often, and also work hard to develop content that’s engaging enough to get and keep peoples’ attention. Our advice? Give it a go if you want but unless you have someone on your team super passionate about running the page, Instagram may not be at the top of the list of things to do today.

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LinkedIn: Your professional community

LinkedIn is Facebook for your professional network – It can be a great tool to get your pharmacy connected with potential employees and industry peers. Creating a LinkedIn profile for your pharmacy makes it much more attractive and discoverable to potential employees as well as connecting with other businesses from other fields. However, if you are focusing on attracting customers, you are much better off looking elsewhere.

Twitter: Constant conversation

Twitter is all about volume. There are millions of people, all tweeting short (280-character) messages, millions of times per hour. It’s very noisy, and it’s very very hard to be heard above this racket. Twitter is all about creating short, snappy tweets that grab attention for a short amount of time before being forgotten.

If you really want to build a presence on Twitter, you need to strap in for a long haul. You need to be tweeting something every hour or so during a workday. You also need to be engaging with people and having conversations.

If this sounds like a big chunk of a full–time job, that’s because it can be! Twitter is hard work. What’s more, people don’t usually use Twitter to find a pharmacy. So if you’re looking to get new customers, or engage with existing customers, you are unlikely to do so on Twitter. It’s a great place for a comedian to flaunt their talent, but perhaps not suited for a pharmacy.

Keeping it simple

When your time is limited, you’re best–off focusing your efforts on the services that will give you the best return on your investment. For most pharmacy business goals, those services are Facebook and email.

Like many new things, getting started is the hardest part so set yourself small milestones. For example, start asking customers if you can email them with a goal to gain 5 email addresses this week. Enjoy writing? Try write 1 article for your website this month. You might organise a Facebook savvy team member to create a Facebook promotion for a hot deal you have on.

These efforts combined will begin to deliver results and before you know it your once little goals will turn into major business successes and your pharmacy will reap the rewards, strengthening both the resiliency and prosperity of your community pharmacy.

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