In today’s world, where technology drives so much of how we connect with people and conduct business, it is about impossible for anyone to not have an online footprint. This is especially true in the last year with the COVID pandemic, some of our only connections were through Zoom calls and Facebook posts. With all the online activity, as a small business owner, it is important to be mindful of your online footprint. In a nutshell, if you did a search on your pharmacy, what kind of results would you find? Any negative things you didn’t expect?
Think of your online footprint as your business’s own story. If you aren’t the author, who is? As mentioned above, someone is talking about your pharmacy out there, so as the owner it is important to control the messaging. Here are a few tips of things you can do:
1. Be Active on Social Media. This goes beyond doing just a few posts to your Facebook page, or subscribing to an RSS feed, but you really need to engage and interact on it. If someone comments on a post, or asks a question, try to respond within 24 hours. Most social media platforms let you set up notification settings, so you can be alerted when there is action on your page.
In addition, consider joining community groups’ pages. The benefit of this is two-fold. First, you can keep up to date on what is happening in your community. Secondly, it shows that you are an active part of the community. When someone is looking for a pharmacy, they are more likely to choose the one they have a connection with, over one they don’t. Just be careful, and don’t sell to the groups. Provide educational information, insights, etc. when applicable.
2. Be a local media contributor. Your patients see you as a community healthcare expert. Make sure the local media does as well. Reach out to reporters at your local newspapers and TV stations, letting them know you are available to comment on relevant stories. Doing so gives you an opportunity to share your expert opinion, but also get free press! In addition, stories are posted online, thus coming up when people search for your pharmacy.
3. Keep your website current. Many pharmacy owners look at a website as a “set it and forget it” type of marketing. This is furthest from the truth and can actually hurt your brand over time. If you don’t keep your website fresh, old information will circulate online, including out-of-date services, old staff photos, etc. For example, if you used to offer compounding, but you no longer do, it could still show up in Google searches if your website is out of date. Leaving your website stagnant for too long can cause it to become a “dead site” for search engines. This means you won’t even show up in results. Try to make updates to your website at a minimum quarterly, but monthly is better.
Incorporate these three tips into your overall marketing strategy. They need to be done on a consistent basis, not just one time. Your online footprint can change in a heartbeat with one bad story or review.
Speaking of reviews, as a small business owner, they are an important part of your overall online footprint. It is important to ask for reviews on a regular basis, but also monitor your reviews, especially on Google and Facebook. Again, both platforms offer notification tools to get an alert when a new review has been posted. Many people do their research on a business online even before setting foot into it. Reviews are one of the top things they look at it. If they see your pharmacy hasn’t received a review in the last year, they may question how good is it? Or is it not the best option for them?
We often get asked about responding to negative reviews. Should you, do it? The simple answer is yes! How you respond can depend on the nature of the comment, but in general it is good to keep it more generic, such as, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, and we apologize for your bad experience. We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss things further. Please contact us at [PHONE].” For negative reviews, it is generally best to try and take the conversation off-line. By responding, you let people know you are addressing it, and not ignoring the situation.
Something to keep in mind, negative reviews can rarely be deleted off Google or Facebook. As a pharmacy owner, it can be frustrating when someone posts a review about something that is completely out of your control. However, unless they are using foul language, is harmful or harassing, it will not be deleted. The best thing to do is ask your customers or do an online push for positive reviews to essentially “bury” the negative one.
Your online footprint is important to your overall marketing and branding. Control your own story or someone else will. If you need help managing it, reach out to us today.