Instagram: How a Pharmacist Can Make a Picture Worth More Than 1,000 Connections
Instagram builds your network in a way that capitalizes on some of the most essential strengths needed as a leader in the profession.
If you’re a pharmacist not using Instagram, you may be missing out on one of the best social media platforms to grow your personal brand and, in turn, your pharmacy career. Pharmacists give many reasons for not using the app, but in this article I will address the most common reasons for avoiding Instagram, the reasons why it can be such an asset for your career development, and why pharmacists are actually perfectly positioned to be engaging on this social media platform.
What Is Instagram?
Instagram may seem like it is just photos of food, models, and quotes, but it offers a unique opportunity to build your network and influence as a pharmacist. Specifically, Instagram is a place where you can share your story and invite potential followers to be a part of your community. Share your own personal story—not just any story.
That’s an important distinction, because although at first glance, every Instagram post may seem similar, there’s a secret to social media success. It may seem simple, but this secret is how I personally built @TheFitPharmacist Instagram account: You are not other people and other people are not you—and that is your superpower.
I realize Instagram may not be for everyone, but before you write it off I want to share the most common reasons people feel this way and offer some insight into why that may be robbing you of an opportunity to further your pharmacy career.
Why You Aren’t Using Instagram
Many pharmacists ask why they would need to post photos, why they should join an app that seems to be full of photos of what people ate for lunch, and how they could possibly have the time. These are the most common reasons for why pharmacists avoid Instagram, but now that those cards are on the table, you can begin to explore the real hesitations.
- In response to the first point, photos allow pharmacy professionals to quickly and simply get a point across. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for a pharmacist looking to further their career, it could be worth more than a thousand connections. Instagram is one tool you can use to grow your following and demonstrate your talent and expertise.
- It’s true that a lot of posts look the same and, at times, Instagram seems to be a sea of catchy quotes and food portraits, but that creates an excellent opportunity for pharmacists to stand out. If everyone is posting the same thing, it gives an excellent advantage for you to be different—that is, to be your authentic self. Instagram may seem to be all the same, but that’s all the more reason that your unique skills have a space to shine.
- Finally, in response to the third reason pharmacists give for avoiding Instagram, here’s the reality: some pharmacists will use it, some will not. However, if your goal is to further your career by expanding your network, Instagram can be an essential tool. Almost all pharmacy organizations, state associations, and schools of pharmacy are on Instagram. If they see you sharing quality content, you are now at the top of their mind—you are now known. Nurturing those online relationships can turn into keynote addresses, speaking workshops, and even international symposium opportunities. Consistently creating quality content can speak volumes for your professional endeavors.
Why You Need to Use Instagram
Instagram builds your network in a way that capitalizes on some of the most essential strengths needed as a leader in the profession. If you consistently display these on Instagram, you can become known as the go-to expert of your niche. Some of these strengths include the following:
- Trust is the foundation of every relationship, especially in pharmacy practice. Whether it is a pharmacy student with a mentor, a pharmacist with their staff, or patients with their pharmacist, trust is where it all begins. Those who are successful on Instagram have a bond of trust with their followers. Followers trust pharmacists to create quality content that is accurate, aligns with their brand, and is consistent in the message they are dispensing. With this, clarity is power—the trick is not to cast a net as big as possible to attract as many people as possible to your Instagram account. The way to gain followers is by being specific to your one thing—your personal brand. Trust is the foundation of everything, but clarity is just as important when building an Instagram following.
- Innovation is what will set you apart in pharmacy and on Instagram. To create solutions to problems in pharmacy, you have to think outside the box. Just as the majority of content on Instagram seems to be the same thing, it’s the innovation that stands out. Adding your own twist, flare, or creative design when sharing a concept or thought is how to really shine and stand out on this platform.
- Connection is a basic psychological need that all humans need. By being authentic on social media, others feel free to do the same.
- Humanity is easy for pharmacists to lose sight of with our perfectionist tendencies…but it is exactly what can be found on Instagram. Sharing struggles, discussing tough lessons, or celebrating a friend or special moment in a raw, un-edited way shows people who is under the white coat.
- Collaboration and teamwork are essential in pharmacies, and it is no different on Instagram. Think back to all the professors, mentors, and group work involved in becoming a pharmacist. The same comradery applies when growing your influence on Instagram.
How to Use Instagram
To dive into specifics about analytics, strategies, and specific tactics would require much more than an article to cover all of the bases, but there are some of important concepts to begin exploring the platform, considering your own content, and getting your journey started.
What to post?
Pick a theme: narrow the focus of the content to something clear and specific so that every post ties back to a purpose. A specific niche could be anything from oncologics to pediatric pharmacy to opioid management, but it should relate to your own interests and specialty.
How often to post?
Consistency is the key. Rather than focusing on how many posts per week, pick a realistic posting frequency that works in the long-term, even during busy periods. Building trust with followers involves consistency, so be sure to make a reasonable posting schedule.
Even with the tools provided here, Instagram may not be for everyone. There are several other social media platforms that can be beneficial to pharmacists, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.