How Pharmacists Can Create Social Media Content That Engages and Invites

March 15, 2021
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.

Creating meaningful content on social media can be broken down into 3 steps: planning, creating, and refining.

To curate a brand, build credibility, and engage an audience, you have to consistently show up with high-quality content. Valuable content not only will set you apart from other competitors, but it also will build engagement around your platform.

What do you have to say? That can be summed up by the previous brand post and by summing up your value proposition, which is your core concept that highlights how you are unique and how you will add value for your audience. After you have that squared away, it’s time to start creating content around your niche.

Content creation can be broken down into 3 steps: planning, creating, and refining. Having a good, easy to follow process will set you up for success and give you a system that is easily replicable when life gets busy.

Planning

The planning stage is where you sit down with a calendar or a Google document, organize what you are going to say, and then map it out. By planning your content ahead, you are able to free up time for engagement, be proactive, and align your message with other key platforms and events.

A good way to start planning your content is to pick 4 to 8 themes that align with your message and rotate them. For example, I like to rotate content that focuses on professional development, student questions, physical and mental wellness, and stress management. For me, that’s my wellness niche.

You can also make your content align with specific days of the week. For example, #medicationmonday, #tutorialtuesday, #wellnesswednesday, and #throwbackthursday are all examples of how you can organize your message around different themes.

Another good example is to look at the national months and holidays for inspiration. American Heart Month and Valentine's Day are both a way to highlight heart health in February and align it to your message.

Once you have your themes, lay them out in a calendar. You can do this in Google docs, Excel, or even by printing out a physical calendar and making notes. There are also some great apps, such as…the rest is up to you. Some people plan out a week, some a month, and some a year.

Creating

How do you come up with a steady stream of ideas? It really comes down to using the themes that you worked on in the planning stage and making content around that.

Usually, you need to have a dedicated block of time to do this. I would recommend you set aside a set amount of time a week—figure out what you can manage—and then go from there. That can be 15 minutes or 3 hours, but it should be consistent and align with the long-term goals that you want from your platform.

Everyone has a different creative process, and you need to find the one that works for you. That could be dancing a little and listening to music, searching Pinterest for inspiration, going to a coffee shop and writing, or browsing some websites to get ideas.

It’s also good to come up with different types of content—both long form (a blog post or YouTube video) and short form (an Instagram caption).

Lastly, you don’t need to show up on every social media platform. Pick the top 2 or 3 that your audience uses and post consistently there—but don’t post the same content on all the platforms.

You need to change it a little bit for each platform. For example, your audience on LinkedIn is probably a little different than your audience on TikTok. If someone follows you on multiple platforms, they do not want to see the same thing pop up over and over again.

Most of all, you need to think about what’s in it for your audience and create value for them. In my opinion, it’s more important to post less frequently—but still consistently, such as Monday/Wednesday/Friday—and have quality and engaging content than to post just for the sake of posting every day.

Twitter and Instagram usually reward more frequent engagement than LinkedIn or Pinterest, for example. Again, that differs depending on the platform, but if you want to experience growth and engagement, consistency and quality are your tools.

Refining

In the refining stage, you edit your posts, put together engaging visuals and think of some killer, attention grabbing captions and hashtags. If you are putting together a YouTube video or a podcast, this is the stage where you do nothing but edit.

Some great tools to refine your work are apps such as Canva, Preview, and any other filtering app that is going to give your account a cohesive look. How do you get comfortable with your headlines and writing? Practice, practice, practice. There will be a time investment at the beginning, but it will get easier as you go along.

A Word About Spontaneity

Spontaneity is a good thing and is important for social media and your professional life. Yes, it’s great to have scripted content but we also want to be authentic when we connect with others.

There will always be trending topics, news stories, or something that is breaking in your profession that you can talk about. Use platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook stories to highlight these moments.

So, plan your foundation but then don’t be afraid to interject some of your daily musings just so people can see the real you and connect. Remember, what sets you apart is your unique journey and perspective.

Set yourself a few boundaries—such as what falls within your expertise and value proposition)—and then don’t be afraid to be creative and color outside the lines a little bit.