As the profession moves more toward the internet, it is helpful to know how to best use the various platforms.
Social media platforms are constantly changing and it is important to keep up with their evolution to optimize usage. Sometimes it is difficult to start. Many individuals only have personal Facebook accounts. What should you post and how often? Should you tweet or retweet? Share an article on LinkedIn or just like a post?
When social media started, it was mostly just for fun, but this is no longer the case. The pharmacy world is no exception, as it is becoming more internet-based, with many professionals using social media platforms to advertise and market products and services. Social media is now a critical part of our way of life, used by colleges, corporations, governments, and pharmacies to make announcements and share ideas. Social media enables pharmacists to bring attention to their brand and work and allows the profession to highlight and showcase its value. It also allows pharmacists to connect with one another. Prior to the launch of the Pharmacist Moms Group, many female pharmacists operated in silos at their own pharmacies with a pharmacy technician or 2. Social media has allowed group members to connect immediately with other pharmacists. Have a drug question or a prescription that cannot be deciphered? Made a difference? Saved someone’s life? These are all topics to post about.
Let’s look at the various social media platforms and how phar- macists can use them.
LinkedIn is my favorite, most exuberant and professional platform for pharmacists to showcase themselves and their brands and follow other brands (eg, https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzannerabi/). The platform is a very productive place to network. Used worldwide by all types of professionals, it is ideal for hiring pharmacists and a great place to start for those looking for new positions. LinkedIn profiles are ranked highest of all social media platforms so typically come up first in a name search. Make sure to include a photo in your profile. No photo means no new job. After joining, create a detailed profile; the more complete it is, the higher it will rank in a search. Share your areas of interest, education, expertise, professional experience, and links to your website, and get recommendations from peers. LinkedIn allows pharmacists to immediately build a substantial network of pharmacist colleagues and communicate directly with others. It is also easy to track who has viewed your profile.
Facebook is the best social media platform for connecting with friends and relatives. You can also follow groups such as the Pharmacist Moms Group (https://www.facebook.com/pharmacistmoms- group/). Pharmacists who interact with the public and have followers can create their own Facebook pages. The platform also provides access to apps that allow users to sell things online and even market their business or products by using paid Facebook advertisements. Let’s connect! (https://www.facebook.com/drsuzannesoliman/)
Twitter is excellent for pharmacists who want to learn, network, or teach others. It is the best-known microblogging site that allows users to “tweet” quotes, attach media, and more. Anyone can read a tweet but only users can post a tweet. Pharmacy owners can promote their pharmacy and have customers shop directly through the tweets. It is a great option for following news, quick reads, and sharing successes. Remember to use the appropriate hashtags, such as #pharmacy, which allow others to search for specific topics. Twitter allows professional networking especially on key topics. I follow influential health care leaders to stay up to date with the pharmacy profession. Twitter users can find the latest news from government leaders, major medical journals, and patient advocacy groups. When a bill is up for debate, pharmacists can make their voices heard on Twitter and do their part for the profession. When signing up on Twitter, remember to include your credentials and a photo. A record of past tweets is stored on the home page. Follow me on Twitter at @suzannersoliman.
Pinterest is a platform for those who are selling something visual. The site consists of digital bulletin boards on which users can pin content, making it especially good for small pharmacy businesses. Pinterest’s target audience is primarily women.
Instagram is a powerful tool and a great platform to share professional wins by using hashtags. With patients’ permission, pharmacists can post photos of themselves immunizing, and pharmacy students can share photos of themselves running clinics. When signing up and creating a profile, make sure to include a photo. Let’s connect! (https://www.instagram.com/drsuzannesoliman)
YouTube allows pharmacists to introduce themselves to patients in videos and discuss what services their pharmacies provide. It is also a great vehicle for creating educational videos. I did my residency in ambulatory care, and I know firsthand that many individuals still do not know what an ambulatory care pharmacist is or what they do. A YouTube video is the perfect way to showcase this work. After creating an account, search for relevant channels. To post videos, use a high-quality camera and keep in mind your video may need editing. Remember to add a professional profile picture and link back to your website or other social media accounts.
Pharmacists should take social media activities seriously. Remember to safeguard your privacy and control who sees your content. Bear in mind that everything we say online can come back to haunt us. Always be aware of your company’s policies regarding the use of social media. Have questions? Let’s keep the discussion going. Follow or message me.
Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms Group, the largest group of female pharmacists in the United States, with more than 45,000 members.