Independent pharmacy was provided a social media stepping stone with last week's announcement pairing the National Community Pharmacists Association and RxWiki. The companies announced a joint digital solutions offering that will raise the profile of independents across both social media and mobile platforms.
While the Internet has long been a great equalizer, effectively managing a social media program can fast become an ROI-diminishing time and resource suck for the smaller operator. Having a solid social media solution is going to be ever more crucial for the pharmacy operator as the business evolves to incorporate more health service offerings at retail.
That's because social media goes beyond things like selling the best mommy-blog-vetted allergy remedy online. Social media represents consumer engagement. Social media has become the platform through which tomorrow's generation of consumers will interact. Meaning, if your pharmacy operation doesn't have a comprehensive plan of social-media attack today, you won't be talking to many patients tomorrow.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Social Media Benchmark Study released earlier this year, 67% of consumers have used a company's social media site for servicing, compared with 33% for social marketing (in other words, two-thirds used the sites to interact; one-third to transact). Today, 39% of consumers who are 30 to 49 years old use social media for servicing needs. And only 18% of consumers who are 50 years and older interact with a company via social media for a service-related need.
But younger consumers (18 to 29 years old) were more likely to use brands' social media sites for servicing interactions (43%) than for marketing (23%).
"Companies that are focused only on promoting their brand and deals, or only servicing existing customers, are excluding major groups of their online community, negatively impacting their satisfaction and influencing their future purchasing decision. A one-pronged approach to social is no longer an option," stated Jacqueline Anderson, director of social media and text analytics at J.D. Power and Associates. "If your customers want service and you're pushing discount coupons out to them while ignoring their attempts to connect with you, you're going to end up with dissatisfied customers."
The inaugural study was based on responses from more than 23,200 U.S. online consumers who have interacted with a company across a multitude of industries via those companies' social media channels fielded from November 2012 to December 2012