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Starkey Signature - February 2024

Creating New Opportunities with Social Media

Creating New Opportunities with Social Media
Todd Hedberg, MBA, Luis F. Camacho, MA, FAAA
February 22, 2013
This article is sponsored by Starkey.

This is a transcript of a live webinar.  Please download the accompanying pdf that contains all the slides, graphs, and images used in the presentation. 


Luis Camacho:  Today we’re lucky enough to have with us Todd Hedberg, Retail Marketing Supervisor at Starkey Hearing Technologies.  Todd is going to present about social media, and without further ado I will turn it over to Todd.

Todd Hedberg:  Thank you, Luis.  I'm excited to talk to you today about social media.  Social media is a topic that I find many hearing professionals and practice owners are a little bit confused about, and may have some legitimate concerns about adopting for their practice.  I will go through social media strategies and some basic things that every hearing professional or practice can be doing to their benefit.  We will look at some examples from both inside and outside of our industry.  By the end of the presentation, I hope everyone will take away a few nuggets and either feel more confident in starting their own social media activity or bolster their present activity.

Before I dive into some of those tips and tricks and strategies, I want everyone to think a bit about how they use online resources to their benefit, whether that is by using search engines, Web sites, social media, or gathering information around product purchases or businesses.  We have instant access to that information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week either at home or on-the-go with mobile devices.  Not only do we have information directly from the companies that are offering products or the service, but we also have visibility to reviews ratings from other consumers’ unbiased experiences.  It gives us tremendous leverage in making an informed decision, and it is really a great time to be a consumer.  We all have tremendous opportunities to make a purchasing decision with a lot of confidence.

That is great for consumers, but as a hearing professional or a marketer and a practice owner, what does that mean for us?  How can we use social media to our benefit?  I personally see it as really great news, an exciting opportunity for us to flip the funnel in how we communicate our message to consumers.  The benefits of social media are very clear.  Firstly, there is no cost to set up an account and post consistent communications.  We have all, most likely, had some experience placing ads and writing the large checks and crossing our fingers hoping that we make that money back and make a return on the investment, and that has worked for our industry very well.  Direct mail today still works well, but it is expensive and it comes with risk.

Social media will not produce a tremendous response with each post, but over time you can find a return on investment, something we will touch on later with some examples of companies that are promoting through social media, all with little or no cost.  Also, it is non-intrusive and permission-based.  As opposed to direct mail or TV and radio interrupting the flow of people’s entertainment or their daily routines, the people that are coming to our Web sites and social media sites are willingly doing so.  They are gathering information or they have found your business through search, and they are curious to learn more.  So we are getting the right people to come to our pages, and it is starting things off on a great foot to have the appropriate discussions and conversations to build our rapport.

Whether it is one-to-one or one-to-many, there are tremendous opportunities for high exposure and engagement.  And this can be done by starting group discussions within communities of your own patients or prospective patients, or engaging one-to-one and answering specific questions. Best of all, it is informal and interactive, meaning the personality of your practice and staff should be reflected in the tone that you use in posting content and responding to individuals on a personal level so that even though it is online, it allows you to develop that rapport with people seeking hearing healthcare help.

I would love to hear and get a gauge of what type of social media, if any, you or your practice are using.  Please type into the chat today and tell me if you are not using social media or if you are, and what medium you are using.  That will help as we go through the presentation, so that we can look at those mediums you are using to help enhance your efforts.  By your comments, it looks like there are quite a few of you who have started on multiple formats, and others who are just starting with the basics on Facebook and learning how to take the story of their practice and share it online.

It is no surprise, looking at the benefits of social media that we just covered, that companies are using social media for many different purposes.  One is to promote their business.  They are using their branding story about what their hearing practice is all about, and the difference they make in people’s lives with better hearing.  Some are using social media to find employees.  LinkedIn is the primary recruiting tool of almost every large and small business, and it creates exposure as well as increases traffic to your Web site.  Pairing your Web site with your social media conversations creates a strong online presence for local search.

We want to take advantage of the same opportunities, and that is what we are going to cover today.  First we will get an understanding of how social media works, what this social media culture is all about and how you can find your niche in it, and identify those best opportunities to promote your practice and reach individuals with curiosity who are searching online about hearing healthcare.

We will talk about something that I think often gets overlooked and that is how to tackle the roles and responsibility of social media.  I could do a whole talk on this, but today we will cover some key points of how to establish a social media team within your office, much like major brands and corporations do.  You can share those responsibilities and alleviate any of the stresses or hassles of taking on social media.

We will look at some examples of how to build a community around your practice for current or prospective patients and engage them.  Then, a little bit on down the road is how we can look to create a return on investment with our social media and go beyond the branding and actually get people to act and come into your office. When we look at getting a grasp for social media, think of social media as a cocktail party or a networking event.  There is actually a book written that is pretty prominent around social media education that is titled Social Media is a Cocktail Party Online (Tobin, 2008). 

The concept is pretty self-explanatory, but with it comes the conducts that most people would expect of others at an event like that.  For our sake, we will look at a networking event where there are lots of people who do not know each other but have similar interests that are engaging in conversations with each other.  We have all been to that event where somebody is handing out business cards left and right, over-promoting themselves and really not listening to find out the needs of anyone there before they give their elevator pitch.  We do not want to be that person on social media.

Really, we want to begin with simple introductions and share our mission or value statement, but then listen and identify the needs to figure out where we can offer a value to individuals.  People go onto social media much like they do in person at a networking event or a cocktail party; they gravitate towards people who are of interest to them at that time and engage on a personal level.  We want visitors to feel confident and welcome to come to our social media pages with their questions or concerns about hearing loss and be able have a response given.

We do not want to over promote.  Just like that example of the individual handing out business cards at a networking event, we do not want to go up to somebody and tell them who we are and immediately offer 40-percent off of whatever we are pitching.  That will scare them away.  They may likely have questions and a need for your help, but at that point they have lost confidence that yours is the right avenue to go.

Share something remarkable!  That may be easier said than done, but usually those people who have the most success at network events are not only the best listeners, but they have an interesting story to tell.  Your patients’ testimonials, community events that you sponsor, or any other unique things that your practice does are great content to share on your social media pages.  I say “remarkable” because that information should not only be compelling and intriguing, but it should make people want to remark upon the content that we are sharing, so we start conversations and discussions around whatever it is that your practice is offering in that post.  That is really where you drive engagement.

Keep that mindset as you approach the content your use for social media.  “How do I listen to people, and how do I share stories that are compelling and will get them to want to engage with me?”  That is the recipe for success, and we will look at some examples as we go through that. 

The last thing worth noting is that once you have established rapport, to make sure to follow up.  If people are openly voicing questions with you, you do not necessarily have to answer all their questions at that time, but definitely follow up and offer them the opportunity to come in for an appointment.  Bring the online conversation offline to have them take the next step.

In our industry, the power of word-of-mouth is tremendous.  I do not think anyone could deny that a satisfied patient creates wonders in our industry by telling their friends and their families, especially those patients that are part of assisted-living communities, about the good work that your practice has provided.  While not all of those individuals are using social media today, some are, and many of their sons and daughters are.  Social media is what I like to call the Autobahn for word-of-mouth.  One person’s post can be shared and liked and re-tweeted to hundreds or thousands of people locally in whatever social media medium that post is put on.  The more patient testimonials we can share and encourage other people to share on our behalf, the more power we are going to create for having a positive brand awareness and reaching people that are on the fence of whether or not they should seek hearing healthcare and where to do it.

Word-of-mouth is free and is still the most powerful marketing tool.  However, it is also the hardest to create and track.  Social media also falls into that camp.  The benefits of social media are indirect.  We can use conversations on social media, both negative and positive, to our advantage.  We will talk a little bit later on this, but the biggest concern that any small business owner has is, “What if I get negative comments?”  I hope that by the end of this talk everyone sees those as opportunities to demonstrate their value and high-level of care and responsiveness, to show in a public format how they can address an unfortunate situation and turn it into a positive outcome.  That will go a long way. 

If a business responds with an empathetic response to an upset customer and they resolve the situation, nearly every time that customer will go and post their thank you and their gratitude for the outcome and become an advocate and a loyalist to that brand.  Maybe you have seen that yourself when looking at reviews on Amazon or Google.  It can be scary at first, but actually it provides a tremendous opportunity. 

Objectives with Social Media

I want to touch on the objectives with social media.  The objective is not to do it because everyone else is doing it.  There is a purpose and an ultimate end goal for using social media.  Today it is about complementing our print marketing and our community events, and adding another layer or communications to different audiences that are online. You may share information about open houses or any type of promotional campaigns you have going on in your office, as well as your involvement at health fairs or community events.  Social media is a great way to reach different audiences.  Today we are seeing sons and daughters of prospective patients being reached with those messages and contacting their parents with more ammunition of why they should seek hearing healthcare and why that should be your practice.

Promoting the brand experience is important as well.  Let people see what it is like to engage with your office, whether through the appointment experience or meeting the staff and the professionals.  This can be something as simple as putting pictures on a Facebook page.  You may put pictures of different parts of your office so they can see not only the outside, but the waiting room, the testing room and the counseling space as well.  You can post things that will help them get an idea of what would be involved if they were to make an appointment, including the different areas and the procedures that would take place.

Ultimately, we want to create a community for our current patients and our potential patients where they can share stories, come to get updates, and be the first to know of new products.  Apple does a fantastic job with this, because they have millions of brand loyalists and early adopters of any new technology they come out with.  They use their social media to reward those individuals who are really engaged with their brand by letting them know what is coming next and giving them the opportunity to pre-purchase or help spread the word.  It makes them feel like they are the first to be on the inside and know.  We can do the same for our patients by giving them a place to go to be updated on hearing aid advancements, on service advancements within your practice, and any community events you are sponsoring that they may be involved in.

We can exert influence with one-to-many communications, and that is a branding mechanism as well as a promotional one.  Say you have strong patient testimonials or a campaign coming up around the holidays; share that message with your current patients and let them share it with people that they know online.  What is beautiful about this is that online, it is so much easier.  All it takes is a click of a mouse to forward an e-mail or share a post on Facebook, or re-tweet on Twitter as opposed to waiting until you bump into somebody or find the time to call someone who you think may be interested in the message.  It is much more active for sharing content.

The number one question that I get, which I am sure many of you have pondered, is, “Where do we begin?”  You all wear a lot of hats, no matter what role within a hearing practice you are in.  It is a pretty busy day to begin with, and adding social media activity to your plate is a bit daunting at first.  We want to make sure that you are using the mediums that give you the best return.  Oftentimes we get questions about Foursquare and some of those other unique and emergent social mediums.  But today, in our monitoring of where the best engagement occurs, it boils down to having a Facebook fan page, creating a YouTube channel for your practice, and using LinkedIn as a recruiting and networking tool.  Extra credit is being on Twitter and speaking to the younger audience, mostly the influencers, who are the sons and daughters that are gathering information to help a friend or a family member, and most likely a parent. We will take a look at each of these mediums.


I am sure most of you are familiar with Facebook.  What I want to talk about is really who is on Facebook and why we see it as the best opportunity.  There are a lot of descriptors of how Facebook works.  For those who do not actively use Facebook, the best way to describe it from my standpoint is a news feed for your friends and family.  You can go to or to find out what is going on in the world or in your area.  If you want to find out what is going on with your friends and family, you can go to Facebook and see what they are posting about themselves.  That is why it is so popular.  People are usually more curious about other individuals.

Facebook now has over 8.5 million active users who are 65 years and older, meaning they log on and post or like something once a week or more, in the United States alone.  What is great about that figure is that it is almost on par with, if not surpassed, the total number of hearing aids being worn in the United States, so that is a tremendous population opportunity.  Now, some of those people on Facebook may or may not be wearing hearing aids, but either way, it is a great opportunity to reach a large audience locally.  There are probably thousands of individuals in that 65+ age group in your market, depending on where that is.

Facebook is a perfect vehicle to reach these individuals.  We can not only do so by telling our story, but we can use contests, start discussions, run promotions and, of course, share testimonials.  So we will look at some examples of that later, but that is just a brief introduction to why Facebook is a key player in the hearing-care industry.


YouTube is just as powerful. There is not as much opportunity for engagement, but there is a tremendous opportunity for branding and sharing the experience and the story of your practice online.  Right now, YouTube is actually the number two search engine behind Google.  That is why Google purchased YouTube about a year-and-a-half ago, because they found that people were taking to this site not just to watch humorous videos or videos that their friends had put up, but to engage with brands and to get help.  If you search by the word “hearing aid” on YouTube, you will see thousands of tutorial, instructional, and promotional videos come up.  So there is a lot of content to be offered, and it is a great space for your practice to create a channel, which does not cost anything. 

To use YouTube, you simply need to register for a Gmail account, sign into Google with that Gmail account, and brand your own channel.  You can upload and host any of your videos and promote those videos.  Being that Google owns YouTube, those videos come up into local searches more frequently now.  If you have any testimonials or videos that tour of your office, those are great not only to share on YouTube for people to watch, but they will start appearing in local search when you get enough views.

On that note, with all the browser changes that are causing problems for some of your Web sites, you can host your video on YouTube and then have your Webmaster or whoever is helping you with your Web site, take the link to that video and embed it into your Web site.  Not only do you get the double scoring for search engine optimization, but if your Web site is not appearing correctly on a mobile device or a different type of browser with all the updates from Windows 8 and the new Apple operating system, those YouTube videos are failsafe and they will always play on any device or any browser.


LinkedIn is more of a tool to use for recruiting or networking.  What is great is that it costs nothing to post open positions at your office.  In the past, we took an ad out in the paper or the local bulletin with an open position.  LinkedIn allows you to be proactive and actually go out there and search candidates locally by the description of your job posting.  You can reach out to those people if you are looking to hire an audiologist that may be listing themselves as an audiologist and are actively seeking work.  It allows you to more proactively search and identify candidates and place them, hopefully, more quickly.

You can also network locally or nationally.  Most cities’ Chamber of Commerces are on LinkedIn, and you can join those groups locally to form coalitions of local businesses that maybe are helping with a community event.  Or you can join other hearing professionals and hearing practices on LinkedIn and get best-practice conversations about marketing and staffing and business development.  There are over 450 hearing-aid or audiology-related groups on LinkedIn today.  So if you are looking for some interaction with other individuals that are trying to take their practice to the next level, it is a great avenue to reach out to those individuals.


Lastly, Twitter!  Twitter is a bit of an anomaly in our industry, because not a whole lot of our prime audience is using Twitter.  Like I have mentioned, the sons or daughters are more likely on Twitter seeing the messages that are being shared.  For those who are not familiar or comfortable with Twitter, think of it solely as group text messaging.  If you have just found out some exciting news and you want to tell people quickly on the fly, you would take out your phone, and send a text message to all your contacts.  Those people can forward that onto anyone they think would find it relevant.  From there, that message gets spread very quickly.  The tweets that come out, which are basically posts, are usually short and right to the point.

For our sake, it is best to reach those influencers by reposting any blog posts or any of your Facebook or YouTube videos and sharing those in another medium.  There is no cost to have a Twitter account and to post content.  So for those of you who have the time or the curiosity to learn Twitter, we would highly recommend you do it and just start sharing some of your content that you have already published so that you can reach a unique, younger audience.  We really look at the 25 to 55-year old audience today.  But as with everything, a year from today I would not be surprised if we have a lot more of the 65 age group in that audience.

Getting Started with Social Media

Let’s get started go through how you can use the best approach to take social media in your practice and make it pay off.  As I mentioned previously, something that often gets overlooked is how you tackle this beast of social media and make it simple in your office.  I use the terms “delegate and moderate.” 

If you are an owner or even hearing professional, first take a pulse.  Find out if there is a super user.  This is a term I am using to identify anyone who is using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn very actively on a personal level, so they understand how to execute the technical work and are comfortable posting links, and uploading photos and videos. Empower that person to be your primary user.  That person usually has no qualms with leading the social media because they enjoy using it on a personal level, and adding that onto their weekly load is probably something they will enjoy.

Content creation, however, is a big task.  It requires coming up with unique content every other day or a couple times a week, and that is something that should be best shared by everyone in the office.  All staff members should keep their ears open for unique information like a patient success story or a new event or an update or something of that sort; they should not only share that with their patients, but then tell the super user, “Let’s share this on Facebook for everyone else.”  The more people engaged in thinking that way, the less difficult it is to come up with new content on a consistent basis.  When one person is posting all the time, the content becomes a bit routine.  The same tone is used, the same content and topics are used, and, frankly, it gets a bit boring.  Having more people engaged with different perspectives and outlooks is beneficial.

When it comes to responding to questions, those people that are doing the administration and actually posting do not always have the answers to the consumer or professional questions that come in.  We at Starkey use the rule of thumb of trying to respond to every inquiry or every comment within 24 hours.  Oftentimes that question has to be shared with a content expert.

We have a lot of content experts here because we have a lot of unique products that we are offering.  But within your practice, you will find the same thing.  Somebody may be curious about the details of an upcoming promotion.  Well, the owner or whoever is helping with the marketing would be the best person to feed the response to who is posting.  If there are questions on product offerings or updates, whoever is most in tune to answering that question should be providing that response to the super user.  So, again, everyone shares duties in coming up with content as well as responding, and that way it is only a small part of everyone’s daily activity, if even that.  Usually if somebody can contribute one post or one response at least once a week, you will have very successful social media for your practice as a whole.

Hopefully that makes sense and it gives you a good model for how to implement it in your practice, because the worst thing that could happen is that one person is given the responsibility of social media, and they get burnt out and frustrated and the page sits idle.  Then, over time, consumers visit your page and see no activity in the last couple months.  So to them, it looks like you may have gone out of business or something happened that you no longer want to be in a public format.  That can be more detrimental than not using social media at all.  You want to make sure that even if you start really slowly, that you assign the proper roles and responsibilities to do consistent social media.  That could be one post every other week to begin, and then as you get more comfortable and it becomes easier, increase the pace.

Another consideration that often gets overlooked is, “How do I get the right people to follow my page?”  I am sure you have read some of the content here, but this is probably the biggest hurdle in our industry today.  Those people who have taken to social media are posting great content, but only have 25, 50 or 100 people liking their page.  If you take away friends and family and other hearing professionals across the country, there is usually not a whole lot of activity getting consumers, either current patients or prospective patients, to engage with your social media.

We have been all victims of seeing terrible examples from those first adopters.  I am sure in the last couple years you have not been able to go anywhere without seeing “Like us on Facebook.”  But there is really no incentive being given for you to do that.  Unless you are an absolute brand loyalist like Apple fans are, you are not going to take the time and do them a favor and add a “like” to their page.  So something’s got to be in it for you. 

You have got to give your patients or your prospective consumers a reason to like your page.  It can be something as simple as “Like us on Facebook and join the conversation.”  You may want to add “Around hearing loss and hearing aids,” or “Like us and enter to win a personalized gift.”  I have seen something as simple as a couple of packs of batteries for any of our current patients that like our page.  That works really well at getting the right audience on your page.

You can promote your page anywhere and everywhere – in your office, at your community events, on your Web site, or on your retention materials.  If every letter that goes out to your database has a little “P.S.  Like us on Facebook and we will give you a free pack of batteries at your next visit,” that will do wonders. 

Even in your acquisition marketing to prospective patients, give them a secondary offer by going to your Facebook page.  That does not even have to be something of monetary value.  You can take a product video or a testimonial and encourage them to go to your Facebook page and watch that video or engage in a conversation.  Really, this is the biggest hurdle, and I am thinking most of you agree that you would love to get more “likes” to your Facebook page or more people subscribing to your YouTube.  We can really start to engage the right individuals and ultimately turn those inquiries that are coming in to appointments.

When we talk about getting the right people to like your page, content is the best currency that you can use in social media to attract individuals to your page.  People want to be informed and they want to have an opportunity to share their thoughts.  So sharing relevant content that is not only educational but gives them insights into what today’s technology for hearing aids can do, and then supported by testimonials, is a perfect mix of content.  And it is simple.  There are resources online, just like AudiologyOnline or Better Hearing Institute, that provide great content that you can use for your pages.  What I really like is not only pasting the link, but prefacing it with a patient value statement.  Give your local individuals a reason to act upon opening that link.  Saying something like, “How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid: this informative guide from the Mayo Clinic may help to answer those questions” will create a lot more engagement than simply just posting the link and hoping people understand why they should open it.  This offers great value for those information gatherers, and it is simple to do – it probably takes less than 30 seconds to log in and paste a link.

Something I love to pay attention to is how big businesses are using Facebook to let individuals share their thoughts.  The best and easiest thing you can do is to ask questions and let your fans or your followers share their thoughts.  Around mid-August, Kohl’s was starting to look at what type of products they were going to start to share that would create a favorable experience for their potential and current customers.  They took it to social media and just said, “My favorite thing to pick out when Mom took me back-to-school shopping was _______.”  By the 2,270 comments, we can see that a lot of people engaged with this post and wanted to share their answer to that open-ended question.

Kohl’s, on one hand, got a ton of engagement, a lot of shares and a lot of people liking their page, so their friends all saw that they engaged with their brand.  But also, they had nearly 2,300 people tell them what type of products that they enjoy back-to-school shopping for!  It cost them nothing to do a massive market research study for what their new promotions around the start of the school year should be.  But the most important value of this was that people responded, and it created a positive engagement experience with Kohls’ Facebook page to have that nostalgic feeling of back-to-school shopping and delight from getting the item of clothing that they looked for.

We can do the same thing at our industry.  Just ask questions.  You can say something as simple as, “My favorite hearing experience is _______.”  People will give you all their answers and will start to demonstrate the value of better hearing, and why addressing hearing loss is important.

Here is another example of giving your fans a voice.  A term in social media called “crowd sourcing” is the quintessential term for getting the input of individuals that are invested in your brand.  As opposed to out-sourcing a consultant to give you their expert opinion, you can solely take to the crowds that are engaged with your practice and hear what they think. 

There was a pizza chain that posted, “We are developing a mobile Web site.  What things would you like it to do or explain?”  Now, for anyone who has been approached or looked into having a mobile Web site for their current practice site, that is not a cheap investment.  It can cost upwards of $30,000 to $50,000.  They had already started the process and reached the conclusion that they could put a lot of things in on this mobile site.  Why spend all the money and miss the target from what our customers are looking for?  So they simply posted this on their social media page.  About 4 hours after their post, they already had 34 people chime in with their thoughts – online order for pickup, simple access to coupons, free stuff!  Some people have fun with it, but there is a lot of value in getting their thoughts.

You could simply get a pulse on what people appreciate or what they are looking for more of– demonstrations, post-fitting care, batteries, warranties, et cetera.  Social media is a tremendous tool to get that information.  As a consumer or a customer of your practice, to have their thoughts heard and acted upon creates a tremendous level of loyalty, and that is very powerful for retaining your patients and empowering them to want to spread the good word about why people should go to your practice.

Earning a Return on Investment on Social Media

The ultimate questions are, “How do we turn a profit, and how does my time pay off with social media?”  Everyone is looking for a return on investment, because that is what keeps us in business.  We have talked a lot about brand awareness, and that is basically the idea of planting a seed through reaching those unique audiences on social media so that they can start to understand and build that awareness for your brand.  We have talked about that indirect benefit.

Next is search engine ranking lift.  Search is now becoming a big part of Google’s algorithm for how they deliver results on a local basis.  I mentioned that Google owns YouTube and is making an effort to bring YouTube videos even into page one for those videos that have a lot of views.  Facebook is showing up in search as Google builds the audience on Google+ that will ultimately be a very powerful search tool. 

As all of us are looking at our Web site strategies and how we can rank number one in our market, social media is really important.  Without it, you are missing opportunities to build presence on page one and even page two, even though most consumers solely go down page one before making a decision.  That is really important, and it is not just about building brand awareness and engaging with consumers, but supporting your Web site efforts and building that opportunity for your loyal patients to have a voice to a mass audience to share the good news of your practice. 

I am sure everyone has that patient that they wish they could just give a microphone every time that they are doing a community event and let them talk on your behalf.  Well, this is that perfect opportunity.  Let them go onto your page and post their story.  If you post their testimonial, encourage them to go on and put their own comments on it to give it some authenticity.  Social media is a perfect setting for people to really share their excitement.

In the process, a lot of businesses are using it as a lead-generation tool.  This can be something as simple as offering free downloads of consumer guides or coupons for batteries, and we will look at some examples of that.  You can give away content for free and, in return, ask for people to share their name and e-mail or mailing address.  In that process you are creating another line of communication on a personal level.

You can take a booklet or pamphlet that you carry in your office and promote it with a post on your page:  “For anyone interested, we will mail out a physical copy or e-mail you the PDF of this booklet.  Simply message us with your e-mail or your mailing address and we will send that out.”  By offering that exchange of the free booklet for the contact information, you have created a lead.  And it cost you nothing!  When we track our traditional marketing today and look at how many hundreds of dollars it takes in direct mail or newspaper ads to get a lead, that is fantastic!  It may not happen as fast, but if it happens a few times a month and it costs you nothing, that is a great starting point.

The next point is that there is no cost to promote your opportunities.  The larger your following of the right audience, the bigger return on investment those offers will have.  It is really just starting.  Here is an article that got me excited as a social media enthusiast - Wildfire App is a company now owned by Google.  They make custom Facebook applications out of Silicon Valley for all size businesses.  They partnered with an online site that monitors the online marketing industry in a sense.  They found that companies are now reporting better response to social coupons and deals than to newspaper advertising.  As marketers and companies are getting better at understanding what type of promotions people are acting upon via Facebook and Twitter, they are connecting the dots between campaigns to consumer through social media better, and they are getting great responses.

Going back to that pizza chain, they had somebody within their marketing team design a little image to post on their Facebook site that had a $3.00 coupon.  They had a picture of a three-dollar bill and underneath it said, “Totally legal at Punch!  Three dollars off your pizza April 10-12.” They had 128 people like it, 66 people share it with a friend and 14 people comment on it.  Just getting 66 people to share it is a tremendous response, because not only is that person probably going to use the coupon, but they have now shared it with a friend who may use it as well.  And that cost them nothing to do.  Punch Pizza is not a national chain; it is a Midwest chain that we enjoy here.  But they operate like a small business in the markets they are in.  To run this on a city-by-city level would be very similar to what many of you could do for your hearing practices once you build your social media followings.

I also saw an example from the national chain, Macy’s.  They did a mix of promotion and crowd sourcing.  They basically put three products up on the page and encouraged people to like the item from this selection of product pictures to see what will be featured in the coming flash sale that they run every Friday.  Individuals could vote on which of the three products they would like to see on sale.  For Macy’s, this is genius because it not only it gets people engaged and excited about their upcoming promotion, but they can go right to the source and find out which product is most likely going to sell the best.  People are invested because they voted, and they want to see that product win out and become the sale item.  Those who are engaged on that level are most likely going to consider purchasing.

Companies are getting better at figuring it out and driving engagement that turns into consumer visits, both to their store and their Web sites, and purchases.  There are lots of opportunities.  I hope all of you are excited about that and see that as kind of the ultimate solution.

By the end of today, I want you to know how to get your social media sites up and share a great mix of content that is compelling and inviting for people to engage.  The next step is encouraging your current patients in your prospect mailings and advertising, and to get potential patients to engage with your page.

Steps for Success

My last point is steps for success.  First and foremost, have fun with it!  If it becomes stressful and a hassle and is breaking up your routine, you are going to disengage and you are going to stop using social media.  As I mentioned, if your page sits idle or you are not responding to consumer inquiries, those are opportunities lost and probably more detrimental than not starting at all.  With that being said, stay active and be responsive.  Share remarkable content and ask questions – all what we have been talking about today. 

A very important point is to be conscious to not identify anyone as a patient.  If you have a conversation taking place on your page, great!  If one of your patients is chiming in with their thoughts, as a moderator do not come in and say, “Mrs. Jones is a patient of ours” unless she has willingly offered that information up.  We do not want to violate HIPAA, just like we would not if we were at a grocery store and people started to ask you questions and the patient walked by.  You would not grab them and say, “Oh, Mrs. Jones is our patient.  She can answer.”  We want to be careful there. 

Spell check!  This is probably the most detrimental thing for any large, medium or small business is lack of proofing on posts.  I am guilty of this myself on my own posts.  But it is really important to maintain credibility by spell checking. 

Lastly, promote your social media in your print campaigns and on your Web site and spread the word.  I hope you all see the ultimate benefit of building those communities around your social media pages.

In the last few minutes, I would like to pose a question to you:  What brands do you engage with on social media that you find to be good examples of successes?  I will share my example while people are typing in their responses, which is Quizno Subs.  I find that they run great promotions on new subs and give coupons for free subs and sandwiches.  It gives me a reason to go back to their page and participate in contests and promotions and save a few bucks and get a good lunch.  They have figured it out. 

I'm going to read some of your answers to that question, “Apple, Samsung, AT&T, Pizza Hut.”  Samsung is one of those brands that you think would not have much of a story, but their Facebook and their social media does a great job of sharing the story behind their company and the products that they release.  That is great!

I want to address a question here quickly.  Having a Facebook page when you are part of a larger practice is a challenge that I hear quite often, because you usually have to maintain branding standards for that larger practice or that medical setting.  I think as long as you keep the lines of communication open to setting up that page, and if you get stumped on how to set up a page, simply e-mail me or send me a tweet, it is not as difficult as it seems.  Once you have that page set up and you have opened the lines of communication with whoever you need to get the approvals from, use some of the talking points the to your benefit, stating that your purpose is to enhance your offering as part of the greater whole to that medical practice by creating a community for people who are looking for information on hearing loss.  There is tremendous leverage in that, because often those individuals may have an ailment or curiosity into something else that is offered at that practice.  So really, it is a way to start conversations and reach people that could benefit not just from your part of the practice, but the entire medical practice.

I want to thank all of you for your time today, and I hope it has been helpful for you.  My goal is to help you build your confidence and give you a couple of nuggets that you can use as you get started or enhance your social media offering.  I look forward to any inquiries that you have moving forward.


Tobin, J. (2008). Social media is a cocktail party: Why you already know the rules of social media marketing. Cary, NC: Ignite Social Media.


Cite this content as:

Hedberg, T. (2013, February). Creating new opportunities with social media. AudiologyOnline, Article #11621. Retrieved from


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Todd Hedberg, MBA

Retail Marketing Supervisor

Todd Hedberg, MBA, Retail Marketing Supervisor, has been with the Starkey Hearing Technologies marketing team since 2006 and has enjoyed roles in consulting partnering hearing practices with their marketing planning, campaign execution, website strategies and now social media efforts.  Hedberg holds an M.B.A from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN and a B. A. in business management from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Todd Hedberg is a Retail Marketing Supervisor for Starkey Hearing Technologies.  He has no non-financial relationships to disclose.

luis f camacho

Luis F. Camacho, MA, FAAA

Education & Training Audiologist

Luis Camacho began working for Starkey in August 2000 as a Field Sales Representative and in 2009, he transferred to Corporate Education and Training.  He received his BA in Telecommunications and Audio Engineering from Indiana University and continued on to receive his MA in Audiology from Indiana University in 1991.  After graduate school, he worked as a staff audiologist for an otology practice in Indianapolis where his duties included clinical audiology, special testing, hearing aid dispensing, marketing and public relations. Luis Camacho is an audiologist in the Education and Training Department for Starkey Laboratories, Inc.

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