Why Your Pharmacy Needs a Blog

Independent Pharmacy Business Blog

Independent Pharmacy Business Blog

Independent Pharmacy Business Blog give a competitive advantage over the big box Pharmacy locations

Chances are you’ve heard marketing experts sing the praises of business blogging.  But if you’re like most independent pharmacy owners, you haven’t given serious thought to incorporating a blog into your online marketing strategy.

In fact, you may have rolled your eyes at the suggestion of blogging thinking “Blog, schmlog. We’re already posting to Facebook and Twitter every day. Surely that’s enough!”

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

If your pharmacy is posting regularly to Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels but you’re not using a blog as a search engine magnet and customer relationship enhancer, you are building castles in the sand.    

A strategic business blog should be the backbone of your social media marketing efforts – the mother ship.  Over time, it becomes an invaluable online asset. You own and control it.

Compare that to other social media platforms where you’ve invested time and money. There, you’re working as a digital “sharecropper,” subject to the constant flux and changing rules handed down by cyber landlords looking to monetize their assets.

True — a business blog isn’t one of those cool, sexy apps that captivates media buzz. It’s more like a nuclear powered locomotive — one that must be fueled. Effective blog posts require forethought and more effort than a quickie posted to Facebook.

But done right, your pharmacy’s blog becomes an efficient, strapping engine that builds true momentum for the other “cars” on the marketing train. And together, they symbiotically expand, attract and anchor more of what you really want.


The Best 10 Reasons To Start Blogging for More Business

 

1. Get found online when prospects are searching for answers, especially from their mobile devices

2. Drive online traffic to your website/blog and foot traffic to your brick and mortar location(s)

3. Stimulate incremental sales from existing customers

4. Nurture a steady stream of positive reviews and testimonials

5. Boost referrals and opportunities for content sharing

6. Establish yourself and staff as trusted, knowledgeable experts

7. Magnetize local media folks and freelance writers looking for story ideas and experts to interview

8. Build a quality opt-in email list for updates and “Subscriber Only” special offers

9. Intertwine your internet marketing and “offline” marketing strategy and tactics

10. Look good on mobile devices even when your website does not

 

 

Business Blogging Basics

Google devours fresh content like homemade Mac  & Cheese. Your business blog is a dynamic, content- centric repository that feeds hungry search engines looking for substance, not junk food.

The platform upon which blogs are built makes it easy to publish keyword-rich articles, videos and other content to the web that look great without knowing any HTML. Your blog features easy-to-update content, displayed chronologically and organized automatically into searchable topic categories.

If you or a reliable employee who has a way with words can send an email, you can blog. You write
in a professional, but informal tone – just as you would when crafting a friendly, informative and grammatically correct email to a customer, prospect or professional in your referral network.

For the best results, always include at least one eye-catching image and apply a few stealthy tweaks to make your post more search engine and Pinterest friendly. Proofread carefully and click “Publish.” Your post is instantly live, available for anyone to find, including prospects near you searching for information and tips that relate to your industry.

Because a typical company website doesn’t get updated very often, it can be tough to compete for top rankings in local searches, especially those done from mobile devices. Managed strategically, your blog levels the playing field, giving you a competitive edge to “get found” by online searchers and the media looking for stories and experts to interview.

Your customers read your blog and share links with family and co-workers via email and by posting to the social networks they prefer. All the while, your business gains favor with Google and your articles (and sometimes, even your photo once you’ve set up Google Authorship) begin appearing on the first page of the organic (free) results, driving traffic back to your blog and website.

Publish fresh content once a week

Ideally, your articles are 400-600+ words long, but you can mix it up. The key is consistency! The best articles answer the same questions you field on a daily basis from customers and prospects. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. Listen and ask. Answer questions. Then listen and ask some more.

If you don’t want to handle the content production and follow up in-house, hire it out. Find an expert to
write, optimize and cross-promote in social media and email. Be sure they are skilled at extracting your expertise and consistently reflect your voice and personality in the posts they produce for you.

Whether you hire me or a different blog content manager – don’t let the challenge of finding time and talent to create and leverage educational marketing content sabotage your best intentions for reaching revenue goals. It’s more like a marathon than a sprint, but you need to get into the race to preserve a competitive advantage.

Ready to learn more? Get in touch and I’ll help you figure out the smartest way to get off to a running head start.

by Jody Murphy  interplaymkt.com 

 

Pinterest and Copyright Law, for Pinners

Basic copyright law

The basics the parts of copyright law that affect your actions on Pinterest, from a US perspective.

  • “In the public domain” means, “the creator has been dead for 70 years.” It does NOT mean, “on the internet already.”
  • Once created, any “original work of authorship” is copyrighted. The copyright is almost always owned by the person who created the object. In some very limited and specific cases, the person who paid to have a work of authorship created owns the copyright, called “work for hire.”
  • Copyrights can be registered with the US Copyright office for $35 and when they are registered, the owner acquires additional, more powerful rights, including the ability to sue for damages.
  • If your URL doesn’t end in *.edu, assume that “fair use” does not apply to you.
  • The Digital Millenium Copyright “Safe Harbor” provision applies to the host, not the user. In other words, it protects content sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest, but not you, the pinner or poster of copyrighted content to those sites.
Copyright for Pinners

Copyright for Pinners (in the United States)

For additional information and the actual text of the law, spend some time at the US Copyright Office’s website. It’s very user-friendly and pretty clear.

Applying Copyright law to your Pinning activity

Trace the source

Whenever possible, pin from the original source, rather than repining. Tumblr is almost never going to be the original source, and neither will goggle.com. When you trace to the original source of a pin, you can often get a sense of whether the creator has allowed, tacitly or explicitly, sharing and pinning.

  • One professional photographer on Flickr publishes the links to the picture to make it easy to link and provides information about how he wants to be credited in that flickr account.
  • Because Flickr has an easy-to-use copyright and permission labeling system, you can be reasonably sure he’s happy to share with credit, the images that are on Flickr.
  • A different photographer has a separate gallery of 30 different images labeled “Pinterest share.” In this case, I’d feel comfortable pinning from that gallery, and far less comfortable pinning any of his other work.
  • When you trace the source to a websites with a “PinIt” and/or a “follow me on Pinterest” button, you can feel comfortable about pinning an image. Understand that the website owner is nonetheless the owner of the content. Do not change the URL or modify the image and give as much credit to the site in the caption as you want to type.

If you don’t have time to trace a pin, “Like” it to save it until you can come research the original source of the image (using Google Image search).
If you find a site does not appear to support pinning, consider “Liking” the image to save it without it appearing on your boards. (Not clear if this would be considered a copyright violation that would charge to you.)

Pinning your own images

You can always pin images you created (as long as you’re not taking a picture of something that is itself under copyright protection, most often “art.”) The Pinterest app for your smart phone makes it easy to pin-on-the-run

  • I found one image of a chair that was painted with a copy of a famous work of art that is not in the public domain. (Da Vinci & Michelangelo works are in the public domain; Klimt’s work is, Picasso and Pollack are NOT.) I did not pin the image. The copy of the painting ON the chair is, probably, a violation of the artist’s copyright
  • If you paid a photographer to make the image (realtors!?!, interior designers with portfolio photography, brides), make decisions about who owns what and who can pin what when you sign the contract.
  • If you are the photographer, start discussing Pinability of your images in your contracts.

Pinning with the PinIt bookmarklet

  • Use caution; consider whether the website owner is likely to benefit from the Pin / additional traffic; consider where you are pinning the image (what type of board?). Paste the URL in the caption as well as in the “Link” field. Use a helpful caption, rather than “cute” or “awesome” or the useless “.”, which gets you past Pinterest’s requirement to put something in the description field.
  • IF you have any doubts, email the website owner and ask for permission. As a group, photographers have a mixed response to Pinterest. Some feel they will lose sales; others believe that additional traffic will bring them more business. It’s their call, not yours.

In one case, I emailed a website owner and she told me she loved Pinterest, had an account under her own name which wasn’t the name of her studio, and simply hadn’t figured out how to put the PinIt button on her website yet. Now we’re following each other. (And I saved her email…)

Stock Photo, National Geographic, and other blocked websites

Pinterest helps website owners who don’t support sharing to block pins from a site. Many of the stock photo websites installed this code, as did the National Geographic website.
Pinning when you have to do something devious to get an image from a blocked, unpinnable website is the same as shoplifting.
Some clients may be more aware of this application of copyright law than you are. Like grammar, getting it right is invisible and getting it wrong offends. (That is, a client who recognizes that you pinned a protected image is more likely to put you in the “shoplifter” bucket than a “clever person!” bucket.)

Researching images

Use “save image as” to save a copy of the image to your hard drive, then drag that image to the Google Image search box. Google will tell you where that image has been used. If Pinterest is the only source, you don’t need the pin.

Review all pins occasionally

When you get more familiar with Pinterest, take 10 minutes to look at all your pins. Make sure they all have links and that those links are legitimate.

  • I missed some curse words in URLs when I first pinned, and I have since deleted those pins.
  • You’ll develop a feel for images that should be credited differently. Beautiful, well-photographed images that are “uploaded by user” on an account that is not full of user-created beautiful images are suspicious.
  • If you’re not sure about a link or a credit, delete the Pin. Something better will show up.

Non-participants

If you don’t want to play, put the “don’t pin from here” code into your website.
Search Pinterest regularly for your important images. Pinerest has a clearly defined system for removing pins that should not be on the site. Use Google image search to keep track of your own work—drag an image to the Google Image search bar, and Google will tell you what sites have used that image.)

Pinees

If you do want to play in Pinterest: add the follow me and Pinit buttons to your website.
Pin your own images to your own boards as a starter. Although Pinterest claims to not be about self-promotion, it also wants to see user-created content. Distribute your images across different boards, depending on your subject matter.
Decide whether watermarks are worth the trouble: it depends on your industry and your skill at adding watermarks to your images. (Photoshop will add watermarks, as will an app like PicMonkey.)

Summary

Pinterest is a fabulous tool for sharing images with your clients, your friends, and friends and clients you haven’t met yet. Share your own images, and images that have been clearly “permissioned,” and you’ll be fine.

*Notes:

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
I am not a lawyer, so I have hired them, and I have learned this: Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyers have a different focus than family practice lawyers. If you need to know more about IP law in a hurry, hire a lawyer who specializes in IP law. IP Lawyers cluster around research centers and universities.

Karen Tiede is a rag rug weaver and reluctant social media marketer who discovered Pinterest for Business and lived happily ever after. Now she weaves recycled t shirts into beautiful rugs and teaches people in the portfolio professions how to use Pinterest to market their work.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact info@martinbrossmanandassociates.com.

Free Photos for Blogs and Websites

“Where can I get royalty free photos?” is a common question asked. People are looking for free photos for blogs and websites with the demand of more content by guest contributor – Ross Chandler, features editor for the Rocky Mount Telegram and as a Web designer.

Only the most talented web designers can create engaging sites without art of some sort. But the issue is, where can you get attention-grabbing images, especially if you do not have a budget for them?

Frankly, I suspect most people do not hesitate to use a service such as Google Images to find what they want, then steal – yes, you read that correctly, “steal” – the images. The simple actions of clicking the right mouse button and choosing “save image as” is theft, even if the work is not marked with a copyright symbol. So, what is a designer left to do?

There are several options. First, look at how you are planning to use the image and compare that against the standards of fair use.[i] Copyright law – a federal issue found in Sections 107 to 118 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code[ii] – allows you to use protected materials within certain clearly defined ways if the use meets a four-part test. The parts are:

  • Whether you’re using the images for commercial or educational purpose.
  • The nature of the copyrighted image.
  • How much of the copyrighted image you’re using.
  • How your use would affect the potential value of the copyrighted image.[iii]

Of course, most people designing websites are not lawyers, and trying to read and apply the actual laws can seem overwhelming. My advice: Err on the side of caution. If you absolutely and honestly don’t think your plans for the image would be a fair use, don’t use it.

Another option is websites that offer free art.[iv] [v] The images range from photos to graphic devices such as buttons and banners. Some are included with the purchase of programs such as the Microsoft Office suite.[vi] Of course, you get what you pay for. Some of the images are of good quality; others are, well, Е you understand what I mean.

A third option is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The images that illustrate its entries are a mix of copyrighted items, which are included under fair use, and others that often are posted by their creators. Many of the latter have been released from copyright; some completely so, others with requirements such as the creator be given credit when the image is used elsewhere. It’s easy to tell a work’s status; click on it then scroll down in the window it opens in until you come to the licensing section where the copyright status is described. Here is an example from a recently added article:



Copywrite image

The government is another source. Images created by federal employees are in the public domain – that is, they are not copyrighted. Some agencies such as NASA[vii] and the Army[iii] have excellent searchable databases of works that can be downloaded for free.

When all else fails, there is another alternative: Ask the person who created the image. This recently worked well for me. As a newspaper editor, I needed a photo to illustrated a story on my weekly religion page. A Google Images search turned up a courtroom drawing that would work perfectly. An email pleading my case to the artist – need for art, no budget to buy any, and so on – led him to give me permission to use the drawing so long as Iong as I gave him credit in print and linked to his blog when the story was posted on my newspaper’s website. Will this work everytime? No. Did it take more time than other options? Yes. But, this shows that the approach can work.

This list isn’t all inclusive. The breadth and depth of the web means that new options regularly appear while some older ones disappear. Checks on search engines such as Google, ideas offered by other designers, and even luck can help you find the work you need for a website.

Article contributed by: Ross Chandler, features editor for the Rocky Mount Telegram and as a Web designer.