Social Media: Misconceptions vs. Reality
It’s no question that social media has taken the world by storm. What started off as a platform to connect with family and friends has since evolved into a powerhouse for business opportunities and professional advancement. Today, over 90% of U.S. businesses have an account on at least one social media app — whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the hundreds of other platforms available. The widespread use of social media indicates that it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Despite its popularity, though, many business owners are still hesitant about social media, particularly those in the world of pharmacy. In comparison to other industries, pharmacies use social media much less: only 65% maintain an active social media account, with 63% of pharmacies on Facebook, 12% on Instagram, and 24% on Twitter. While there are many considerations for why a pharmacy may be hesitant to get started, misconceptions about social media may be the biggest contributors. These misconceptions send the message that social media is irrelevant to your business, which not only slows your pharmacy’s growth online but also limits your ability to reach more customers in your community. The consequences can have a serious effect on your business.
In an effort to set the record straight, here are some of the most widespread misconceptions about social media — and, more importantly, the truth about them.
Many businesses, especially small businesses, rely on traditional marketing — like commercials, billboards, and word-of-mouth — to grow. While these tactics can certainly be helpful, in the digital age, they are not enough. Because more and more consumers use social media, they expect the businesses they shop at to do the same. More than half of social media users search for products and services on their preferred platform, and 36% buy from social media directly. In terms of connecting with businesses, 90% of social media users follow their favorite brands online. These numbers show that consumers want businesses to be active on social media, and they are willing to connect with those who are.
Because they are businesses, pharmacies need social media: customers ask for it, competitors have it, and growth depends on it. In fact, 73% of business owners report that using social media has been effective in increasing overall business. If you want to see more patients and get better financial outcomes, use social media.
Many pharmacists worry that their patients — who are often elderly adults — do not use social media, making it unnecessary for the pharmacy to use it. Contrary to popular belief, though, social media isn’t just a passing fad for younger generations. It is used by millions of Americans every day, from every age group, every background, and every walk of life.
To put this into perspective, 69% of American adults use Facebook on a regular basis, which includes 73% of 50-64-year-olds and 50% of 65+-year-olds. 40% of adults use Instagram regularly, including 29% of 50-64-year-olds and 13% of 65+-year-olds. And 22% of adults use Twitter, including 18% of 50-64-year-olds and 7% of 65+-year-olds.
The implication for your pharmacy is clear: if your patient base is made up of young adults, they use social media. If your patient base is made up of middle-aged adults, they use social media. And if your patient base is elderly adults — you guessed it — they use social media. If you want to reach them, go where they are. Customers are already trying to look you up on social media, and if they don’t find you - that can be a missed opportunity that could have easily been avoided.
Maintaining a social media presence doesn’t have to mean juggling five or six different accounts to advertise your business. Instead, it means being strategic about where you choose to build your following. Often, you will only need to make an account on one or two social media platforms that are most used by your audience. Start off by digging into your pharmacy’s demographics and find out who comes into your business. Don’t just consider factors like age; also look into race, sex, education level, and socioeconomic status. The PEW Research Center provides a helpful illustration:
In a normal workweek, pharmacists stay busy filling prescriptions, treating patients, and managing the behind-the-scenes operations of their businesses. With so much on their plates, they may feel too busy to use social media. In addition to the time constraint, they may also feel intimidated, especially if they are inexperienced users themselves. Social media can seem like a challenging undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be.
Ultimately, social media is about sharing your pharmacy’s vision, making your voice heard, and interacting with the people that you serve on a larger scale. By creating posts, sharing information, and connecting with your followers on their favorite platforms, you are expanding the work you already do within your pharmacy. As you start your account, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a social media expert to be successful. You just have to be adaptable. Research what other businesses are doing, be open to suggestions, and find what your followers are most receptive to.
To simplify the process even further, RxLocal’s Social Media Assistant can help you to take the guesswork out of social. Our creative team produces high-quality, patient-centered content that will boost your business and is ready for you to simply Copy-and-Post. Every week, we provide you with pre-made posts (including images, captions, and hashtags) that you can post directly to your social media accounts, as well as ideas of original content you can post. We also provide you with a calendar to know exactly what to post and when to post it.
Whether you are looking to simplify social media or take your content to the next level, the Social Media Assistant can give you real results.
Although social media is largely measured by likes, comments, and followers, these numbers do not necessarily reflect customer satisfaction or overall business success. Rather than worrying about the number of followers you have, focus on pleasing the followers and patients that you do have. Engage them in the following ways:
By taking the extra steps to connect with your followers, you can keep them interested in your content. If they find it to be helpful, they may even share, repost, and recommend your pharmacy to a friend — allowing your account (and your business) to grow organically.
Everyone knows about your pharmacy? Are you sure? Even in close-knit, small communities, there are always new people that could be moving into town or existing residents that become unhappy customers who are looking to leave your competitors. Your pharmacy needs to be visible when patients are searching for you and be ready to market to potential new customers. If they look you up on social media, you want to be there. Constantly being in the line of sight for people in your community will act as a subconscious reminder of your business. Even if someone is not actively looking for a new pharmacy - they will remember you when they do.
Social media is here, and it’s here to stay. With a better understanding of social media, its uses, goals, and purposes, you can feel confident that starting an account is a smart business choice. With services like RxLocal’s Social Media Assistant, it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Social media will allow you to connect with patients, build a following, and expand your business beyond its four walls. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get social.