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When my colleague rang me and said I was going to speak at The Pharmacy Show in October 2017, I had two emotions run through me.
The first was elation.
“Yes! People are beginning to understand that Social Media is important for Community Pharmacy. Woohoo!”
The second was…
“Sh*t. I’m presenting.”
But it didn’t take me long to understand what I was going to present. The topic would be centred around Facebook for Community Pharmacy.
Facebook is still such an underutilised tool in Community Pharmacy and so I created the presentation (above) titled Why Every Community Pharmacy Should be Harnessing Facebook. It was a 30-minute interactive session to help explain to the audience how its various tools can help improve communication in the locality and increase brand awareness. (Below) you can find an explanation of each of the slides to help you understand better what I was talking about.
Facebook is like a planet. It’s so massive that its formed it’s own gravity, effortlessly pulling its 2 billion inhabitants, often subconsciously, into the application where they live there for around 20 minutes a day. It’s the Jupiter of all social media worlds, and has a population bigger than Whatsapp, Twitter and LinkedIn combined.
Let me show you some statistics of its use in one of its countries, the UK, which will help you understand its popularity a bit more:
- 32 million of us have active Facebook accounts and 84% of all adults over the age of 18 use it.
- By 2022, there will be 42 million monthly active users, which is 7 million more people than in 2015. In fact, the UK has the second biggest Facebook penetration rate in the whole of Europe.
- And, very importantly, the numbers of Facebook users who are 65yrs and over has been growing ever since records began.
Last year, the UK saw a boom in “social seniors”, where the population of the elderly using Social Media more than doubled, from 19% to 41%. So, when a pharmacy owner tells me that their patients aren’t online or don’t use Facebook, well…
I bet Uranus that they are. The planet that is 🙂
Simply put, Facebook cannot be ignored. Throughout the years, it’s developed into a very important, often critical, tool for business and today I want to show you why and how you should be harnessing it for your pharmacy business.
My name’s Saam and I’m a Community Pharmacist with over 11 years of experience based in Sheffield. I’m also columnist for the Independent Community Pharmacist magazine where I write about digital marketing, and I’m the creator of a platform called Pharmacy Mentor where I’m helping Community Pharmacy, particularly Independent businesses, embrace the digital age.
So, why am I trying to get you to go digital?
1. Well, first and foremost, if pharmacy businesses don’t embrace digital, then it’s going to be a real struggle to survive in what is a digital world we live in today. I have to be blunt about it. The more this world turns, the more we, as consumers, are conducting our business and leisure online. In addition to this, technologies and innovations that are available to us represent big opportunities that will help us grow in new ways.
2. Secondly, it’s my job to teach you guys about it. Over the last 4 years, I’ve become a complete technological nerd. I’m now a professional web developer and video course creator, an advanced digital marketer and I’m relentlessly building new digital products. As I continue to learn about the digital world, I aim to teach and help you capitalise on it.
So, Facebook was one of the first digital tools I began to focus on for Community Pharmacy and there were a few reasons for this:
- Like I mentioned before, Facebook is the most popular Social Media platform in the UK by miles. If your customers and patients are on there, you should be there too.
- It’s an extremely dynamic business tool. It’s scope of functionality continues to blow my mind. Facebook are always innovating meaning they’re always releasing new tools which can help businesses.
- It’s free to use and you don’t need a website to get started.
And lastly, the vast majority of Independent Community Pharmacies don’t use Facebook for Business, or aren’t using it well. This is the case even though most pharmacists do believe it to be important. We’ll get to why this is later on in the session, but again, this represents a great opportunity for Independents.
Question: Ok. I have a question for you. What do you think the benefits of Facebook for Community Pharmacy are?
Ok. Let’s see if these come up in the section that I’m about to talk about now, which is exactly about the benefits of Facebook for Community Pharmacy.
Facebook is an excellent communication tool. You can communicate with your Community quickly and efficiently and get your message out to so many more people than you would without it.
Buxted Pharmacy Tick Post
To demonstrate, look at this post published by Buxted pharmacy (a client of mine) that is giving people information about Ticks in the area, and the signs and symptoms of infection to look out for. They decided to post this since they had seen an increase in the number of people coming into the pharmacy with tick bites. In the space of a few days, it had been shared over a 100 times and reached over 11,000 people. From this single post that took 5 minutes to create, they helped educate 1000’s of people in their locality and beyond whilst building trust into their brand.
Green Cross Chemist Migraine Campaign
For Green Cross Chemists in Sheffield (another client of mine), I used Facebook to communicate a health initiative as part of their HLP requirements.
Everyday for a week, we posted content that helped raise awareness of Migraine, which was supporting the Migraine Trust during Migraine Awareness Week. Facebook helped us deliver our message quicker and cheaper, and by personalizing our posts with Tina the dispenser, we helped reached way more people that we would have by simply having a notice on the counter and talking to the people coming in.
Building Relationships with Local Businesses
Another great tool that Facebook offers is the ability to create groups. Groups are powerful communication tools because you have the chance to influence a significant number of people very quickly, particularly if you’re the administrator of the group.
What I’ve done for one of the Green Cross pharmacies is create a group purely for the shops and businesses in the area with the aim of improving communication and sharing ideas. I’ve only just created this group but business owners are willingly joining and I’m now able to share useful updates to the group at zero the cost. For instance, in a week in October, I shared a post promoting our Flu Jab service which was seen by everyone in the group and resulted in one of the business owners messaging us about it.
And not to forget, your Facebook Page has a messaging service where people can contact you directly. More and more people expect 24 hour customer service these days and what’s really cool about Facebook is that it tells the customer how long they can expect to wait for a response.
And look at this (on the slide). Facebook is telling me to reply more to turn on the Green badge. It’s cunning because who doesn’t want a Green badge? It looks way better right? It’s incentivising me to reply more and at the same time encouraging me to communicate with those who contact us.
Communicating via Facebook is automatically spreading the word about your business but you can also use it tactically to boost the awareness of your pharmacy quite dramatically.
Greenwoods Pharmacy Hack
I have to refer to the Greenwoods Pharmacy hack. I call it a “hack”, because they hacked the system and it just sounds really cool.
Look at this post they published back in 2015. They created a really nice video about their pharmacy and built it into a post with a simple competition. People would receive a free gift in store if they:
- Liked their page
- Shared the video and
- Quoted Vid 1 in store
This simple tactic has generated over 400 reactions, 300 shares and a whopping 127,000 views. Now that is spreading the word on a whole new level! Note. There may have been some paid advertising involved here.
I contacted these guys to see what this had done for them and the owners confirmed that this post had built their audience quickly, is helping install trust in their brand and for a period of time when it went viral, confirmed an increase in footfall and sales. Amazing work by these guys.
Totley Pharmacy Growth Hack
Another pharmacy that growth hacked their audience very significantly in a matter of days is Totley Pharmacy.
They’ve used Facebook to showcase their partnership with St Lukes Hospice and Sheffield United Football club, and have harnessed this to create a competition where someone could win a couple of tickets to a Sheffield United match. The post went completely viral and their audience, represented by Page Likes and Followers, went from 55 to 1400 in only 5 days. They now have the opportunity to directly influence so many more people in the city of Sheffield. Very clever use of Facebook.
Now, I already showed you how Greenwood Pharmacy drove more people into their store with that amazing growth hacking post of theirs. But this isn’t the only way you can increase footfall. Facebook has many other tools that can help you do this. Let me take you through some of those now.
Build an online shop
A really cool feature of your business page is that you’re able to build an online shop where you can display various products of yours, whether it’s medicines, beauty products, or high-end products. Literally anything you sell, you can showcase on here, just like I’ve started doing with Green Cross Chemists. I created a section just for the premium products we sell at one of the pharmacies, promoted it to our audience and the staff working there reported back to me that people were coming in to buy the products because of this.
In fact, in the States, your Facebook shop actually has full e-commerce functionality. People are able to buy products directly from Facebook itself, so watch this space, because it won’t be too long before this functionality arrives in the UK.
Another great feature of your Facebook page is the ability to create an offer, and offers can convert into sales. Take a look at this photo (on the slide) of Paul from Buxted Pharmacy again. He created a 3 for 2 seasonal offer on his antihistamines for the whole summer which positively impacted his sales. How does he know this? People came in and told him! “Hey Paul, I saw your offer on Facebook. I want to buy some antihistamines.”
Can someone point out to me why this image is so much more powerful compared to a generic image of a few boxes of hay fever medicines, say?
Another thing you can do is create an event. Now, I haven’t done this for my clients yet and I haven’t seen any other Independent create one on Facebook as of yet either. However, Community Pharmacies host events all the time, such as charity events and other health campaigns. Why not use the events feature on Facebook to drive more traction?
Take a look at this (on the slide) “Make up Masterclass” event that was hosted in Rotherham not so long ago. In her beauty salon, she organised a basic makeup tutorial that lasted 2 hours and it attracted 6 people at £20 a head. Now, as well as making £120 in 2 hours giving a class, it’s more than likely she sold makeup, and the fact that she went out of her way to give a class has absolutely secured their loyalty as customers.
So, holding events can certainly be powerful. Have a think…what kind of events could you host and use Facebook to drive traction?
So, from what we’ve just seen and discussed, let’s recap the benefits that Facebook can provide for you as a pharmacy business:
- You can reach more people in less time, whilst saving money and the planet.
- It’s a great platform to host and promote health campaigns
- It’s a brilliant tool to help build your relationships in the Community, both B2C and B2B.
- By using messenger and replying to comments, you’re improving your service to customers
- By publishing posts and engaging your audience, you’re boosting brand awareness
- By hosting events and engaging with your community online, you’re building trust and loyalty
- And Facebook can help with aspects of footfall and sales
Therefore, understanding these benefits, why aren’t Independents using Facebook?
Ok, so I did some research and sent out a survey to the pharmacy owners on my email list, on social media and those who I know personally.
- The number one reason is time. I totally understand this, we never have a minute spare in the day, I get it. But, how come Buxted Pharmacy, Totley Pharmacy and many other pharmacies are finding time to manage their Facebook strategy? The reason is that these guys have learned to build it into their current business model meaning it just forms part of daily routine now. And besides, you’re looking at a couple of hours a week and some of your staff will be more than capable of managing it.
Hands up in the room who has a smartphone? Everybody right? Your whole Facebook strategy can be managed easily on there, while you’re on the move.
- But I’m also very aware that, like point number 2 mentions, you’re not sure where to start or how to even begin. That’s normal. You’re pharmacists at the end of the day, not digital marketers, and it takes time to learn these things.
- You also believe it not to be a priority. I understand this too. You’ve got so much on your plate that something like this is considered an extra. And…
- You’re not sure about the ROI. Again, you’re completely right. I wish I had more concrete evidence in numbers that showed an increase in footfall and sales from Facebook. But that’s just hard to come by.
However, Facebook for a local Independent Community Pharmacy isn’t about that. It’s more about brand awareness, improving communication, building better and stronger relationships in the community and generating trust. This will cumulatively bring about a positive impact for your business.
The fact is, having an active Facebook page is better for your business than not having an active Facebook Page. It’s a free business tool there to be capitalised on and it’s scope of functionality is incredible. Can you imagine if every single contractor began educating and promoting their services on Facebook, where 32 million people in the UK currently reside? We may finally be thought of as the first port of call for healthcare in the Community.
If you aren’t using Facebook yet, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity for growth
Facebook is such a great tool for Community Pharmacy. They are continuously innovating and releasing new features to help businesses and individuals communicate with their audience. We now live in a digital age where your consumers are increasingly conducting their business and leisure online. Facebook is a great place to begin capturing their attention.
Over the last year, I have been perpetually producing content to help educate you around its use. However, I’m very aware that Pharmacy Owners are strapped for time and many are not as tech savvy as person such as myself. This is why I have created digital products and services to help get you set up on Facebook and begin driving your business into the future.
The Pharmacy and Social Media Mastery Course
This step-by-step video course helps Independent Community Pharmacy businesses get set up on Facebook and Twitter. It also teaches them, in the quickest way possible, how to build an audience that matters to them, how to engage with them and use the various tools within each application in the aim of driving their business online. The course has been designed in a way that anyone in the pharmacy is able to take.
For more information, please access the course details here.
Digital Marketing Services for Community Pharmacy
I have recently launched a digital marketing service for Independents, Small-Chain pharmacies and other small to medium-sized healthcare businesses where I am managing a strategy for them. Please click here for some testimonials from current clients and then click here if you’d like more information about these services.
If you’d like to talk to me about getting digital, or anything related, please feel free to contact me and I’d be glad to assist you. Also, don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Driving Your Pharmacy Business in the Digital Age, a free 70-page manual, that is really helping pharmacists understand the importance of going digital and how to create a strategy going forward.
Thanks for visiting and see you in the next learning module!