Your patients want you ... online.

According to a recent survey conducted by PrescribeWellness, 78 percent of Americans would consider following their pharmacist on social media. Top reasons for wanting to see their druggist in cyberspace include hearing about deals and promotions (58 percent), new offerings and services (39 percent), healthcare news (37 percent) and seasonal vaccine reminders (31 percent).

Pharmacists — It's time to get social!

Social media is the preferred method for communication today. According to information published on Statistica, more people than ever have a social media profile. In 2017, 81 percent of Americans have an online presence, up 50 percent from just five years ago. Over 80 percent of millennials check Twitter at least once daily. And the most widely used social media platform, Facebook, has accounts for 79 percent of all the internet usage in the U.S.

Most of the major U.S. pharmacy chains have social media accounts already. CVS Pharmacy has a Facebook page with nearly 2.3 million likes. They talk about their promotions and actually interact with followers who post questions and comments. But Walgreens has them beat with almost 4.5 million likes. They also advertise and interact with followers.

But individual pharmacists need to speak up as well.

Of course, pharmacists choosing to engage online need to be aware of any restrictions about marketing or advertising online by their employer. While not American, a recent article in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy reminded their pharmacists that their Board recommends pharmacists "maintain professional standards and be aware of the professional implications of your actions" and "ensure you protect the privacy and confidentiality of patient information."

Good advice for healthcare workers on any continent.

Speaking of social media, October is National Pharmacist's Month, and Pharmacy Times has been taking to Twitter with #ThankAPharmacist; using their social media profile (@Pharmacy_Times) to spread the word. Check out the hashtag on Twitter to see pharmacists being highlighted.

Getting social is a great opportunity for pharmacists to spread important health- and medication-related information. And it's effective. In fact, 92 percent of respondents to the PrescribeWellness survey said they would listen to recommendations from their pharmacist about health education online.

A simple way to start exploring social media is with a Facebook page. Anyone with a Facebook account can start one. You can come up with any creative name you like — it's totally free. For a little money, you could have someone design a sharp looking custom image for your cover.

Then, just start sharing. You can post links to pharmacy-related news articles, inspiring quotes, videos or pictures. Share encouraging thoughts or advice. Humor is always a hit. Just keep it professional.

The key with social media is to keep it consistent. Try posting once or twice daily to start with. Avoid posting 30 things one day, and then nothing for months. Facebook lets you schedule posts so you can set them all up once a week if you like.

Twitter is another great way to share important links and quick thoughts. You can grow a following by sharing useful articles and even "retweeting" things shared by others.

The most important thing with social media is that it is intended to be ... well ... social. Actually interact with others who are sharing and using the sites. Respond to questions and comments. Add your own feedback to information posted by others. You don't have to put in hours of time to create an online presence that is powerful and useful.

So, pharmacists, are you ready to get social? Your patients are waiting. The opportunity is before you. This may be a great way to share your knowledge and get involved in the lives of your patients.