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A Soft Differentiator, Six Tips For Social Media Engagement In an Audiological Practice

 Social Media Engagement In Audiology

By Geoffrey Cooling

In our increasingly competitive industry, it is increasingly hard for an Audiological Practice to stand out from the crowd. There are hard differentiators, such as price, that we compete on, however, there are also soft differentiators such as Patient engagement, empathy etc. These soft differentiators are in my own opinion becoming increasingly important in our industry. With that in mind I would like to quickly share some tips on what I believe to be one of the strategies where you can display your soft differentiators with ease.

It’s increasingly hard to resist not only the gathering buzz but also the promise of marketing in social media. It’s personal, direct and relatively efficient from the point of view of engagement, it is also growing at quite an astonishing rate. Our Patients are increasingly spending a lot of their free time engaging on these sites. With reference to several forums they are discussing not only our products and their perceived efficacy but also their experiences with their service provider.

Many of them are also using these sites in order to assist in researching purchase decisions and perceived efficacy of supplier. However with that in mind, does it necessarily mean that all practices should drop everything and start a Facebook page or a Twitter account? The use of social media channels is very unlike traditional advertising, it is certainly not like the purchase of advert space in a newspaper or indeed the venerable Golden Pages; You don’t just organise, place and walk away.

Social media marketing is truly about long term engagement that allows your standing grow within your target market. To make the most of any social media marketing, you need to have a long term strategy. Social media is truly about having an ongoing conversation with your Patients and potential Patients, it is not about droning on about your business and wonderful services incessantly, because the community will ignore you.

Think about the time and not inconsiderable energy that you have engaged in order to cultivate your existing Patients and attract new ones. That time was not wasted, nor will any time that is used for social media involvement, if you undertake your strategy properly.

Here are six suggestions for social media:

1. Pick the right social media channels.

It is a commonly used term in our business that location is everything, it is equally as important in social media. Research is key,  the social media sites that our demographic use? How do they use them? Where do they turn to research your product? You need to be where they are and where they are talking to each other.

2. Write content of interest to our Patients.

You can’t have a meaningful dialogue with Patients if you don’t know exactly what they want to talk about. Think about the questions you hear every day from our Patients. Look carefully at what people are talking about on discussion boards, in blog comments, on competitor sites, and on review sites. Engage with active Patients individually by answering their questions and asking for feedback. Their responses will give you ideas for new blog posts and indeed places to engage other people.

3.The use of free offers to drive loyalty?

Everyone loves a deal, and they love to share it when they find one. Access to offers is one of the biggest reasons people follow brands in social media. Give them something exclusive. Make them feel special and encourage them to share it with their friends on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way to get people buzzing about you. It will build your following fast, and it is really just an extension of what has become an accepted marketing strategy in our industry.

4.Vary your content, endlessly repeated content is not only boring it is viewed just like Spam.

I have said it here earlier, however it is worth repeating. Social media is an ongoing conversation. If I repeatedly said the same thing over and over again while talking to you, how long would it take for you to back away slowly? Add variety to your content. Ask for feedback and questions. Run a contest or a sweepstakes. Try humour, and candour. Invite people to engage on your site, discussing benefits, support etc. Share the stories of your Patients, with their consent. This is your community online, make it fun.

5. Budget enough time to engage, or else hire someone.

Once you have decided to follow this strategy, you are making a commitment to your Patients and you must follow through. Make it a daily routine, schedule reminders in your practice calendar, do whatever it takes in order that you follow through. This is an important task that is part of your ongoing strategy to succeed. If you don’t have the time for it, find someone who does. However, this person needs a clear structure, make sure that person understands your practice completely, has the authority to solve Patient problems, and can communicate with the public in a professional way.

6. Use the right tools.

Like any project, the right tools can make the job a lot easier. The Internet has many free tools you can use to monitor discussion and measure the impact of your efforts. Some of my favourites are Hootsuite and TweetDeck  to manage Twitter, Google Alerts for monitoring posts on keywords and Socialmention for evaluating the sentiment of conversations surrounding our industry. I aggregate blog subscriptions with Google Reader and use Instapaper to save any interesting posts I come across.

Regards Geoff

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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About Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling: I have a great interest in business development strategies as they apply to the Healthcare environment. Particularly the Hearing Healthcare profession. I am fascinated by social media and its impact on society in general. My work background is quite varied but for the last several years I have worked within the hearing profession. Initially I worked as a dispenser but in the last few years I have worked as a sales manager for a leading manufacturer.
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