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If all you do is sell on social media, you need to think again, writes Hamish Chadwick.

Consider this scenario for a minute. A customer walks into your pharmacy and approaches the counter.

Even before they make their last step you proceed to badger them with your specials and new must-have gifts that can be found in the aisle just adjacent to skincare.

Hello, how can I help you today? Pleasantries are hardly dollar productive, hit everyone up with products and sell. “Just enter your pin. Who’s next?!”

I know you wouldn’t dare do this in reality, however, using social platforms to just sell products and services is not that much better.

It may seem a little far fetched to some but as in real human social interactions, certain etiquettes need to be observed in the online space.

Like the boor at the networking event who thrusts their business card into your hand and walks away not even having asked your name, “selling” on social media is just as bad.

Of course social media platforms offer unprecedented opportunities to market your business, but the real problem lies in how we think about them and utilise them.

As pharmacy owners our priority is to make sales and to do this we need customers, so our natural instinct is to put products and services in front of customers.

That’s all very easy and seemingly cheap with social platforms. In a matter of minutes you can create targeted ads that have the potential to reach literally thousands of prospective customers. So now all that’s done you just have to sit back and wait for the rivers of gold to flow through the doors.

Sadly it’s not that easy. Like the boor at the networking event, if all you do is sell people will avoid you.

The good news is that with a simple and honest approach you can successfully utilise social media to build your pharmacy brand.

The first thing you need to appreciate is that social platforms offer ‘engagement’. When it comes to marketing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, the marketer (you) is on the same level as the customer. You can both share and comment on content.

Even though a business can choose to pay for advertising, the parameters for paid marketing are strict to ensure people don’t feel like they’re getting ‘hard sell’. People can even comment on your advertising material, or block it if they choose. It’s that simple.

So what’s the approach? Firstly, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, it’s how you sell it. Or more accurately, how you can use your subject matter to create engagement. Instead of the traditional sales method of making statements you need to ask a question.

This approach can apply to literally anything related to your pharmacy. For instance if you wanted to market a multivitamin on your Facebook page you could either list a particular brand that you have and use a headline such as “XYZ Now 30% OFF”, or you could market your expertise by asking a question such as “with so many choices of multi-vitamin, do you know what you really need? ask us and we’ll be able to help”.

Your reputation and brand is then determined by your response to customer questions. Unless you choose to ‘hide’ questions or comments, other people will be able to see your response.

The real value of social media is not how polished your content is, it’s how well you respond. Keep in mind that if your responses are public you might only respond to three people, but potentially hundreds of other customers will see it.

Regardless of what you want to sell or market, you must frame the message so that it asks a question rather than it making a statement. This is the only way to ensure you are making an effort towards encouraging a valuable dialogue with customers.

Social platforms provide opportunities to build rapport with your audience if you’re willing to put the effort in.

If people warm to you, then there’s an opportunity to build brand loyalty. The money will eventually follow.


Article written by Hamish Chadwick for the Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

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