Some say engaging your business in social media marketing is just jumping on the bandwagon. Everybody’s doing it so you should, too. But what’s the real value and how does that look for us as pharmacies?
First, social media is important because it is underpriced attention. In June of 2017, Facebook alone reached 2 billion Monthly Active Users (MAU). From a marketing perspective it’s valuable to know this because we must understand where people’s attention is, and have a presence there, too. As an independent pharmacy we can’t ignore social media marketing, and in fact, should make it a strong part of our comprehensive marketing strategy.
Social media can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to imagine creating enough interesting content and unique things to post about on a regular basis. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to dive into social media because of time constraints, fear of failure, or not enough definitive ROI.
At Rice’s, we have found it quite valuable to invest in social media marketing, but it hasn’t happened overnight. There has definitely been a learning curve but we are seeing fruit from our labor in a growing online community and higher conversion rates.
Two important reasons that people crave social media interaction:
1. Relationship – people are interested in other people.
2. Value – people feel want to feel valuable OR want their lives impacted for the better.
These are important to keep in mind when creating an online presence. As a pharmacy we can’t just push our products and services. We have to actually build relationships and create value for our customers.
Long ago, as independent pharmacies, we were able to build our business on relationships, trust, and customer loyalty. That has become more difficult as we compete again e-commerce, big chains, and mail order options. Social media is a window of opportunity that let’s us build relationships with our customers, drive conversion rates, and strengthen our brand in our community in a scalable way.
Connecting with our customer
Social media creates a new way to connect with the customer. By showing photos of the team in action, highlighting birthday events, and volunteering in the community we are able to pull back the curtain so that customers get a better sense of our company culture, which leads to greater connectedness. Engaging with posts from other people and businesses in our community is a simple, but intentional, way of showing local camaraderie.
Responding quickly to comments, questions, and messages that come through social media let the customer know that we are available and care about their needs. Thanking people when they give a positive review or compliment shows appreciation. Being responsive on social media grows trust, loyalty, and respect between the pharmacy and the customer.
Pharmacies can use social media to drive conversions like signing up for Med Sync, text alerts, and downloading an app. It’s an opportunity to explain to our audience what these services are with links that send customers directly to website landing pages where signups are easy.
Another benefit of social media marketing is the real-time feedback and analytics. So watch and learn. See what customers respond to and what they have no interest in, which will guide your approach so you can bend and adapt in order to drive more effective engagement and conversions.
Let’s face it - we are all emotional creatures. We buy based on relationship, loyalty, and the feeling we get. Social media allows for stronger brand building. When we post information that helps with patients’ overall health, our care and intent is evident through our written word. When we as the pharmacy thank them for choosing us and look for ways we can give them more value, we begin to make that emotional connection between our posts and our patients.
Tactics like influence marketing have allowed us to connect with people that have a large following and piggyback on their influence. By hosting like and share contests and giveaways we open the door for other people to share our brand and even market our pharmacy for us.
Brand building is a long-term game just like social media marketing. You might not see overnight results but we can’t miss the bandwagon because we’re waiting for the right time. The right time was yesterday. “As an independent pharmacy we have to continually look toward the horizon of innovation to stay competitive and work toward it with persistence even if we don’t get it right every single time.” says David Figg, CEO, Rice’s Pharmacy.
Social media marketing is moving fast and always changing. Getting started can seem daunting. The best advice is to just start. It’s like riding a bike. You can’t learn by watching. You have to learn by doing. So watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and talk to others that are growing in that area, too. Get in the game and remember that executing a successful social media marketing strategy is a marathon not a sprint that will payoff in the long run.
David Figg received his B.S. in Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science and his M.Eng. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Management from the University of Louisville. He has worked with IBM in Research Triangle Park and managed projects for the automotive, baggage handling and material handling industries. Today David uses his engineering and operations experience in retail pharmacy as the CEO of his family business Rice’s Pharmacy. David’s drive for the future, while utilizing data from the past, keeps the innovation coming and their team constantly pushing forward.
Melissa Wayne is Marketing Director of Rice’s Pharmacy in Beaver Dam, Kentucky where she enjoys promoting better health within the community. She has been in marketing for almost twenty years and currently focuses on digital marketing: social media, email marketing, content management, and website development. She's lived in Kentucky, Alabama, Connecticut and Michigan, but her favorite place to serve is in Uganda. You can find Melissa on LinkedIn and Twitter.