Social media is the new norm and it’s never been more important for your business to get on board. There are a number of platforms to consider and you can read about them here, but just having a page on your social platforms won’t cut it. Why? Because content is critical.
Content engages your readers. It open the door for 2-way dialogue between you and your patient that you otherwise might not have. It helps increase your following. Most importantly, it’s your chance to prove your value to your potential patients.
To cut through the clutter and stand out from the competition, every pharmacy should embrace the value of a content calendar. Here are just a few tips for effectively using one for your business.
1. Know your channel and audience.
First and foremost, you must understand the channel you are using and the audience you want to reach.
Depending on the social media sites you are planning content for, your content calendar should be personalized. Facebook posts can be much longer than a limited character tweet, hashtags are everything on Instagram and blogs show your expertise on LinkedIn.
Are you looking for new customers? Do you have a hormone therapy option that the compounding team wants to introduce to women in the community? Think about what you want to talk about and to whom you will be talking.
Once you have identified the channels and audiences it’s time to build your content calendar.
2. Building a content calendar that works for you.
You can build out a chart in Excel or do the same in a Word Document depending on your platform of choice. I tend to prefer to use Google Documents so that I can share my plan with multiple users who are then able to edit and provide feedback.
The columns should outline four key elements: date, channel, copy and images/links.
In the date/time column make a plan for the cadence of posts. Are you aiming to post daily on some platforms and weekly on others? Perhaps you’re planning multiple tweets per day. List dates and times to set a consistent posting rhythm for your platforms. Obviously this should be evaluated over time by leveraging tools such as Facebook Analytics to optimize engagement.
The channel column lets you know which social media platform will be used for each post. This will set the tone for the copy your choose in the next “copy” column. Include hashtags and the full copy as it would appear in the post.
Finally with images and links, make sure you pull these in advance and include in the content calendar. Use a tool like bitly to shorten links if needed. Sometimes this column will be empty, but for more engaging content, try to keep it full for 2 out of every 3 planned Facebook or Twitter posts.
3. Complete your calendar in advance and commit.
They say it takes 21 days to make a new a habit, so commit. Make a plan to fill out your content calendar one month in advance. If you’re working with a heavier calendar, 2 weeks in advance is another strong option.
This isn’t a "write it and forget it" process. You’ll be adding and taking away as your go, but with a well developed content calendar, your day-to-day social media to-do list will definitely decrease.
4. Highlight unique events.
Find dates, events, and holidays that matter for your pharmacy, your town, your state and your customers. Make sure you have themed posts planned on these dates.
For holiday posts, think about sharing tweets with your holiday hours if they differ from the norm. And maybe take a quick video of the pharmacy team wishing everyone a great holiday season for a separate post.
Is there a fun summer festival happening in your town? Share the details with your social media community and engage with the local host through hashtags or by tagging them in a post.
Tying posts to key moments in time can help make them more meaningful and will add value to those who follow your page.
5. Mix it up and use posts cross-platform.
If you’re managing multiple social media channels, there’s no need to recreate the wheel with each post. Take a post you have ready to go on LinkedIn and cut it down for Facebook, then truncate it again for Twitter.
While not all posts will fit every platform, you can strategically leverage content across a variety of channels to make creating content a bit easier.
Also, use your platforms to help increase your following. Is your Twitter new but your Facebook page has thousands of engaged followers? Post to Facebook to let your community know that they can now engage with your on Twitter. Cross-platform promotion is an easy win for you business.
6. Use a social media management site.
Once developed your content calendar, it can easily be dragged and dropped into a social media management site that will post for you at a preselected date and time. Facebook now offers their own social media manager system that allows future posts to be submitted and await publishing based on your specific selections.
By using the Facebook analytics tool, you can see when your audience is on Facebook and predict the optimum time for your posts to be published. Remember the more engagement, the more public attention your business will see.
There are other third party tools that might offer some advantages over Facebook’s manager system, but it all depends on the needs of your business. Some of the more popular tools support more than one platform. The ability to log in to one site without having to bounce back and forth from the login screen of all the different channels, is a huge timesaver. HootSuite, Edgar, and Buffer are some of the most common tools that are available.
I recently discovered a new company called Promo Republic that offers similar services to these. I was able to lock-in a special offer of lifetime access at $49. Take the time and evaluate your needs once you select your platform. There are several other smaller services that might be an affordable option. Remember you can always choose to use an additional system to complement whichever tool you choose.
It is important that the system be easy to use and that it meets your business and personal scheduling requirements. Sign up for the free trials that are available and weigh the pros and cons for yourself,
7. Get collaborative.
If you’re going it alone for social content development, a content calendar is a great way to seek feedback or buy-in before posting. You can write everything in advance and then have your boss or a colleague look over your content.
If you are the owner and have assigned this task to a pharmacy technician, a review plan would be invaluable to maintain control over what is posted. Content can be improved through a collaborative review no matter whom the author is. Opening your content calendar up to additional minds is invaluable. If you are new to social media you will find that stepping back and gaining a new perspective will help spark your creativity.
7. Forget perfectionism and be real.
All too often we try and present a perfect facade to the world. While it is important to maintain professionalism, it is equally important that your personality and your vision for your pharmacy shine through in the posts.
Remember earlier I mentioned committing? As long as what you or your staff member is saying aligns with your vision and your goals it does not have to be perfect. It just needs to be informative and provide a value to your patient.
Forget about your worries and your excuses. Schedule time to create a content calendar and use it to get it into the approprtiate hands.
8. Video and photographs are shown more frequently in timelines.
Facebook Live is the biggest change for Facebook this year. What an opportunity for pharmacy owners! Every content calendar should contain some scheduled times for Facebook Live or at least for a pre-recorded video.
When filming a video or taking high quality photos, no special equipment is necessary. Make sure there is good lighting and that you have a smartphone. Each week (or more frequently if you are able) schedule a Facebook live taping. Choose a topic that comes easy to you. Something your “patient” wants to learn or something that will bring value to your community and imagine that you are explaining it to one patient while you are taping.
If live videos are too scary for you, then do some practice runs with taped videos. These can be edited and uploaded to the system later,
Video testimonials from your patients or another provider is one of the most valuable content. It establishes your expertise and validates your expertise building trust.
A content calendar will save you time and set you up for success. It will ensure that there will always be a steady stream of posts - even on those crazy busy days when you are exhausted.A content calendar will help you evaluate your marketing plan and focus the campaign on a clear message. Your message will become clearer and your pharmacy will stand out from the competition.