How Pharmacists Can Build a Community on Social Media That Fosters Growth

Joanna Lewis, PharmD, MBA

Joanna Lewis graduated from MUSC in 2007. Since then, she has held a variety of pharmacy practice roles, most recently a leadership position in the Department of Pharmacy at Duke University Hospital. Some of her responsibilities included medication safety, quality improvement, oversight of the financial charge capture process, and coordinating the implementation of a new technology system. She is passionate about precepting and mentoring new practitioners, as well as making the practice of pharmacy better.

Some of the best accounts on social media have built an amazing, supportive community with just a few thousand followers.

After you have gotten clear on your message, the audience you serve, the value you bring to your community, and the content that supports your message, what happens next? What if you have been doing this awhile but are not really seeing any growth or engagement?

Two of the biggest questions around social media marketing are:

  1. How do you grow your social media following?
  2. How do social media influencers make money?

In this article, we are going to answer the first question.

First, let us clarify that you do not have to have a huge audience to be impactful or have an engaged audience. Some of the best accounts on social media have built an amazing, supportive community with just a few thousand followers.

Three things that make a big difference in your growth are:

Crystal Clear Content

Good content will help you build credibility with your followers, which will lead to engagement and growth—and will make you desirable to partnerships if that is the direction you want to take. A good approach to developing clarity around your message is to be known as the go-to person for a subject.

This expertise will lead others to you when they are looking to answer a particular question. To become this go-to person, you have to build your content clearly around what you want to be known for and also position yourself with other people in that space. For example, whenever I have a pregnancy or lactation question, I usually confer with my friend Leslie who is an expert in that space and who has branded herself as The Lactation Pharmacist.

Another way to do this is to maximize your social media bio. By this, I mean telling your audience what, who, and how. What do you do? Who do you help? How do you do this? For example, one branding expert may say, “I help graduate students build and promote their brand by providing content creation exercises and workshops.”

If you are a health coach teaching the importance of exercise and nutrition, you could say something like, “I teach busy, working mothers how to prioritize their physical health by providing customized exercise and nutrition plans.”

Letting your audience know what to expect and then delivering on that promise is one of the greatest ways to create audience interaction and thus, growth.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

If I were going to tell you one thing about growth, it is to be consistent. Whether that is a weekly post about medication on Mondays, a weekly LIVE at 11 am on Fridays or a newsletter every Sunday, your audience needs to know when you are going to show up.

That consistency builds a lot of trust and credibility around you and your message. You don’t have to commit to showing up on social media every day; however, if you want to grow, you should set up a pattern in which people get used to seeing you, whether that be every day, or three times a week. Based on the existing studies, I wouldn’t recommend showing up less than three times a week.

Consistency goes beyond showing up regularly. It also has to do with creating consistent visual images and a message that is cohesive.

Make sure your visuals fit your brand, whether that be how you filter your pictures, the colors you use as highlights on your page, or the fonts you use on your blog. Make sure your message is consistent too.

You may have many interests, but if you are trying to brand your social media, starting small and sticking to a niche is the best way to grow in the beginning. What I mean by this is that if you are going to teach someone about pharmacology and then start putting pictures up of landscapes, it won’t align unless you think of a very clever way to tie it all together. You can still be creative, just do not bounce all over with your content.

Collaboration

Networking with other influencers can be crucial to your growth because it expands your reach to new audiences. Get comfortable with reaching out to other influencers in your area of expertise and work on building relationships with them.

I have met some great friends and allies over social media and it all started with someone reaching out. If your messages align, it can be a great way to support one another. Remember, there is no point to competing with others—you are your own unique individual so that alone will make your content exciting and different.

There are several ways that you can become more visible to different audiences:

Collaborating on a giveaway

I am not a huge fan of this one. Yes, it may open you up to different audiences, but 9 out of 10 times those people will unfollow you when the giveaway is over if your content is not on a subject that interests them. Giveaways are great if you want to reward your audience, but I would not do it with the sole purpose of gaining new followers.

Going LIVE

This is a great way to get your message out there and open yourself to new audiences. Going LIVE on Instagram has been a tool that has increased engagement over the past year and opened people up to new accounts. Both people’s audience will be notified when you go LIVE and it may expose you to people who may not have found you otherwise. Clubhouse is another app you can use to go LIVE with someone and use it to spread a joint message.

Doing a podcast

This is one of my favorite ways to expand your reach. Going on podcasts with like-minded individuals who already have a platform will broaden your reach and give you new outlets, which will also aid your growth. The other great thing about meeting other influencers is that you can learn essential lessons from others who are further along in their journey.

Lastly, do not forget to engage with your audience. By engagement, I mean that when people are interacting with you on social media, you should interact back. Whether that be in the form of messages, comments, or likes, form relationships with your followers.

Just remember, social media can be a great tool for building a brand, positioning yourself, and helping educate and inspire others, but it should never be used to measure your self-worth.