Tip of the Week: Leveraging Social Media as a Pharmacy Tool

March 3, 2021
Sarah Carpio, BS, PharmD Candidate; and Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA

Social media has developed into a powerful and versatile device that can inform and reach a multitude of persons almost instantaneously.

Social media is ubiquitous. We are in a thriving digital age, and the current landscape can potentially help pharmacy reap the benefits of its influential expansion.

Regardless of social media’s initial impressions as a personal engagement tool, it has developed into a powerful and versatile device that can inform and reach a multitude of persons almost instantaneously. Utilizing social media to advance the marketing of pharmacy businesses and personnel allows for growth and innovation. Pharmacy practitioners and pharmacy managers have been provided a tool that can highlight the contributions of pharmacists and advertise the services provided.

A study published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology described the benefits of social media in the pharmacy community health setting. The authors utilized focus group discussions to delve into the impressions that pharmacists had about the roles, purposes, and opportunities presented by the social media platforms they used. From the focus group discussions, 4 overall themes were identified—how pharmacists use social media, how public health initiatives and safety are promoted, how the public perceives pharmacists' use of social media, and how to expand the roles of pharmacists.

Three key findings were extrapolated from these 4 themes. These findings identified how social media is currently used by pharmacists to debunk myths and educate misinformed audiences as follows:

  • Pharmacists, with their depth of knowledge in all topics drug-related, can fill in gaps and provide reliable professional information to the public.
  • Social media can be used to engage the public and advance pharmacy practice and its services.
  • Social media can be used to communicate to patients their medication reminders and provide an alternative avenue for patient engagement, where traditional methods of communication might fall short.

Social media does present challenges for pharmacists, such as maintaining digital safety, and preventing litigation or tarnishing of brand reputation arising from inappropriate information shared. Anxiety can develop from a fear of losing follower engagement and lack of development of viral content. Despite its shortcomings, social media provides an avenue for advocacy and expansion of pharmacy practice. It provides pharmacy practitioners a space to engage in current initiatives, share experiences, and network.

Pharmacy practitioners would benefit from the use of social media to curate customer loyalty, educate misinformed patients, improve customer service, and promote pharmacy services. Pharmacy managers should continue to educate themselves on current social media usage, seek ideas from pharmacy personnel and customers, and advocate for proper social media utilization among all employees.

Additional information about Marketing Fundamentals, Marketing Applications;and Customer Servicecan be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Sarah Carpio, BS, PharmD Candidate, Touro University California College of Pharmacy in Vallejo.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

REFERENCE

Hermansyah A, Sukorini AI, Asmani F, Suwito KA, Rahayu TP. The contemporary role and potential of pharmacist contribution for community health using social media. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2019;30(6). doi:10.1515/jbcpp-2019-0329