“How do I build my brand online?” was probably the #1 question I received from fellow pharmacists in 2022.
So, with this post, here are 5 suggestions for your consideration as we all reset for the new year and you may consider changing for your own brand moving forward as a pharmacist.
- Pick your niche — Pharmacy is a very wide and deep topic area. What’s your niche? You can pick between 1–3 to start — or just one to start in order to not get overwhelmed. The easiest way to start owning an area within the practice is simply to share content that matters to you and your niche. You don’t even need to write it! Just curate and share with a little commentary your favorite posts, blogs, stories written by others, and next thing you know, you’ll be known as the _____ pharmacist. (Fill in the blank with your niche.) My 3 topic areas in the past few years are: 1. pharmacy benefits, 2. pharmacy law, and 3. career development. I’d say 80–90% of my writings and shared content are around these 3 buckets online. You should also get these keywords jammed into your online profiles, your resume, and your cover letters (if you’re hunting for a job.) If you include them, your presence will be higher within the keywords and the algorithm of platforms you’re utilizing over time.
- Pick your platform — Generally, if you’re just starting out your career, you should really think about starting with ONE platform. For me, I’m all in at LinkedIn. Others may be all in at Instagram. Or TikTok. Or Facebook. Whatever. Just pick one. I consider my handles across social media beyond LinkedIn as gravy, because they’re not my primary platform. My Instagram, for example, rarely matches my professional work either! Pick one platform for your professional voice and go all in on it. Do keep in mind that platforms, however, come and go — so if there’s a way you can build your own site or blog and share your content there, that’s even better, because you own that domain.
- Pick your battles, carefully — Pharmacy is a very small industry. All the industry thought leaders pretty much know one another. While everyone loves a villain (and let’s be honest, right now there are a lot of potential villains in pharmacy and healthcare) be careful with whom and how you pick battles online. Focus on the facts and the data rather than calling out individual actors. A better way to approach things that drive you crazy is to try offering improvements, better ideas, and positive change. Going negative is fine if used sparingly, but not all the time. Otherwise, you’re just making things worse, and you’re labeled as someone who can’t fix problems, just someone who loves to point out problems. Also — never, ever forget patient privacy and HIPAA. Don’t even think about posting about patients. Stay as far away as you can from specific examples and PHI. You can and should generalize and keep PHI off the table.
- Pick your tribe(s) — Where are the people doing what you do now? Better yet, where are the people doing what you want to do next? Where do they hang out online? What groups or associations are they a part of? This is a fantastic way to hear the voice of the next gig you want — by hanging out online where the professionals are who are doing your next gig. The new year is a great time to consider which groups you are a part of — like over at LinkedIn. Edit or add groups for interesting niches you want to know more about. Hint: you can follow more than one tribe to get ideas too. For example, in the past, two of my tribes were medical affairs/field-based medical science liaisons, and pharmacy academia. I don’t follow those as much anymore, because I’ve moved on to other roles, but this time of year is a GREAT time to assess where you are, where you want to go, and re-start your path based upon where your next tribes might be hanging out.
- DO NOT ask to pick brains — People can serve as your mentors without them even knowing it. I would not recommend that if you’re trying to find a mentor through social media (or any other realm, for that matter) that you reach out to them and ask to ‘pick their brains’ on their thought leadership. They’re busy, and time is finite. Instead of reaching out to them for this type of request, follow them for a while, notice their jam, see what they discuss, and then — after you’ve followed them, you may reach out, but be as specific as you can about your question or ask. I get asked all the time to ‘pick brains’ and I wish I had the time, but I don’t — what I am more than happy to do is take questions and either address them in blog posts (literally — like this one) or share on the weekly radio show over at LinkedIn, or even answer via email. Time is a thought leader’s most precious resource. Do not squander it. Another way you can engage is to say something on their posts. Agree, or add commentary. That helps you and them with your social media presence.
That’s it. If you follow these 5 simple steps, your social media presence will be more effective, efficient, and proficient.
Happy (brand) new year!