Category Archives: Tech Tips

Beyond Hearing: Making Connections

While 98 percent of wearers note an increased quality of life with their Ponto™ device alone1, there are many different accessories that can make your Ponto experience even better! In this article, we’ll discuss some amazing devices that can connect directly with your Ponto processor as well as some other assistive listening technologies to further improve your life.

Ponto 5 Family Accessories

Made for iPhone

The Ponto 5 Family is Made for iPhone®. This means that these processors can connect directly with iPhone devices to stream music, videos, phone calls and more. Once your Ponto is paired to your phone, there’s no need to do anything else—any sound from your phone will automatically stream to your Ponto device.

Here are a few more features you should know about:

  • The Triple Click: Depending on the model of iPhone, a triple-click on either the Home button, or the right-side power button (if your phone doesn’t have a Home button) can be used to access volume control, program changes, and live listen.
  • Live Listen: This is a feature accessible through the settings on your phone, or it can be accessed through a quick triple-click of the Home button or side power button (depending on iPhone model). It serves as a remote microphone; in other words, sound enters your phone, no matter where it is, and that sound is streamed to your processor. This can be useful in noisy environments. Simply pass the phone to the individual you’d like to speak to and have them speak into the microphone on your phone. Their voice will stream directly to your Ponto bypassing any noise in the environment.

Companion App

Get the most out of the Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 family with the easy-to-use Oticon Companion app. Compatible with your smartphone, tablet, or Apple Watch®, you can enjoy more control, support, and independence anywhere. While these processors are Made for iPhone, even Android™ users can access this app and pair their devices to access the following features:

  • Just slide or tap your screen to easily adjust your volume, change programs, connect to accessories, and more—conveniently and discreetly.
  • You get simple in-app tips, news, and notifications for support when you need it. Even find your Ponto devices with “Find my hearing aids,” if you misplace them.
  • You can use SpeechBooster to reduce background noise in complex listening environments, which helps you focus during conversations.
  • Access RemoteCare to get personal care at your convenience, including remote counseling appointments and adjustments from your hearing care professional. Speak to your hearing care provider to see if they offer remote care services.

Other Ponto Accessories

The accessories below are available through Oticon Medical and can be paired directly with your Ponto device. These accessories are compatible with Ponto 4 and 5 family processors:

  • ConnectClip: This small microphone is designed to send sound directly to your Ponto processor. It works to overcome distance and noise in places like restaurants, lecture halls, or even when hiking. This device can also be used to connect your Ponto with Android phones to allow for streaming phone calls, music, and more.
  • EduMic: Works as a remote microphone, but also does much more! With the EduMic, children gain access to FM systems in schools. The device also allows for telecoil use in places like theaters and museums. With the EduMic’s AC Jack mode, you can connect to just about any audio device and stream sound to your Ponto processor.
  • TV Adapter 3.0: Designed to connect your Ponto to your TV to help you hear without disturbing those around you. The sound from the TV will be sent directly into your processor and you can adjust the volume however you’d like. The TV will still work normally for your family to enjoy alongside you.
  • Remote Control: Want to keep things simple? The remote control allows you to change volume and program settings on your Ponto with just the touch of a button. No need to connect to your phone or the Companion app.

You can learn more about all our connectivity options, the Companion app, and how to pair your processor with your phone by downloading the “Getting Started with Ponto” trial guide here.

 Other Assistive Technologies

Beyond wirelessly connected devices like the options outlined above, there are a diverse array of technologies that are specifically designed to cater to the needs of individuals who are hard of hearing or Deaf. These include things like captioned phones that provide real-time visual transcriptions of spoken conversations. Some of these phones also have expanded volume ranges for hard of hearing individuals.

Vibrating alarm clocks allow users to wake up through vibrations rather than traditional auditory alarms. Similarly, vibrating or lighted baby monitors alert parents to a baby’s cries.

Expanding further into the realm of safety, specialized fire alarms go beyond conventional auditory alerts by incorporating bright, attention-grabbing lights. These visual cues serve as a crucial lifeline for individuals who may not be able to rely on auditory signals during emergencies, reinforcing the importance of inclusivity in safety technology.

Doorbell systems have also been developed using similar technologies to provide lighted cues rather than sound when the doorbell is rung.

Moreover, assistive technology has extended its reach into the entertainment domain, with closed captioning becoming a standard feature on many digital platforms. Smart TVs and streaming services now offer customizable subtitles, allowing individuals to enjoy a wide range of content without missing out on crucial dialogue or narrative elements.

In the workplace, hearing device-compatible phones, loop systems, and speech-to-text applications have become integral tools for fostering effective communication. These devices contribute to creating inclusive environments, where individuals with hearing challenges can participate fully in professional settings.

The continuous evolution of these assistive technologies reflects a commitment to breaking down barriers and creating a more accessible world for everyone.

Making the Connection

Ponto processors, along with a vast variety of connectivity options, allow users to connect to their environment and the people around them. Speak to your hearing care provider to find out if Ponto or any of the aforementioned assistive technologies are right for you!

 

  1. Lagerkvist H, Carvalho K, Holmberg M, Petersson U, Cremers C, Hultcrantz M. Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone-anchored hearing system—A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 2020; 45: 667–680. https://doi.org/10.1111/coa.13556

 

Humidity Issues and How to Combat Them

As the summer months arrive, so does the hot, humid weather. You may want to consider how this can affect the function of your Ponto™ processor.

Your processor is vulnerable to environmental changes like increased humidity in the air or condensation caused by moving between air-conditioned interiors and extreme heat outside.  While the Ponto 5 family of processors have an IP rating of 57 when the battery is in the processor, it is still important to consider ways to minimize exposure or combat the effects of moisture.

Warning signs of moisture issues include the following:

  • Your processor’s sounds are distorted or staticky
  • Your processor works intermittently or cuts in and out
  • You see corrosion in the battery compartment or around the battery
  • You feel that your batteries are not lasting as long as they normally do

 Can you help prevent moisture issues?

You can start by developing good processor cleaning and care habits. If the processor comes into contact with sweat, rain, or moisture, wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. The Ponto Care™ app, available for iPhone® and Android™ users, provides helpful information on the proper care and maintenance of your device. For example, avoid storing your processor in the bathroom where it could be affected by humidity from showers or baths.

How can I help reduce moisture that may be in my Ponto?

Drying systems are an easy and effective way to reduce moisture that may accumulate in your processor due to normal usage, rain, or living in areas with high humidity.

There are two main types of systems. The first is considered passive; this uses desiccant, much like the packs that you find in vitamin bottles. These are typically called, “jar dryers” and contain the desiccant beads that can be “recharged” by putting them in the oven or microwave. You simply put the processor in the jar without a battery and close the lid. Jar dryers are great for travel, camping or when you do not want to use electricity.

The second type is an active dehumidifier. This type also has a desiccant pack or puck but adds in a fan to circulate air. These “box dryer” systems can also have a UV-C light that acts as a germicide. Box dryers more aggressively reduce moisture from your Ponto processor. Again, you can put your processor in the dryer without a battery and turn the dryer on. The box dryer will typically run through a cycle that lasts between 6-8 hours. You can feel comfortable using these types of drying systems every night and as your storage case overnight.

Use your bone anchored hearing system all summer long

Wherever your adventures take you this summer, make sure your Ponto processor keeps up with you by following some simple care and maintenance steps. With a little care and common sense, you can continue enjoying the sounds you love regardless of the season.

About the author

Nicole Maxam, AuD CCC-A is part of the Auditory Technical Services team at Oticon Medical. She has been an audiologist for over 17 years and has experience with providing patients with hearing aids and implantable solutions.

3 Big Things OpenSound Navigator Does for You

Oticon Medical’s Ponto™ 5 family of bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS) includes OpenSound Navigator™, which handles multiple, dynamic speech and noise sources for you to instantly capture and easily follow the listening environment. This groundbreaking technology and ultra-fast processing analyzes sounds, balances surrounding sounds and removes excessive background noise in a split second. But what does that mean for you, the Ponto wearer? Here are three important ways in which OpenSound Navigator helps you focus on what’s important.

1.      Keeps you connected to your sound environment

Conventional sound processors aim to improve speech understanding by removing sound, such as by using directionality to just focus on the speakers in front of you. While this may improve speech understanding, it can also leave you feeling cut off. Ponto 5 Mini and SuperPower devices take a different approach. The pioneering OpenSound Navigator technology lets you hear sounds from all around you and stay connected with your sound environment.  This makes it easy to follow what’s going on. Ponto 5 uses OpenSound Navigator technology to open up the full soundscape, so you can hear sounds from all directions. New research confirms that this open soundscape gives the brain what it needs to create a better listening experience.

OpenSound Navigator balances surrounding sounds, so the background sounds are available, but not disturbing. In this way, no sounds are eliminated but individual sound sources are rebalanced to support the user in separating sounds, making it easier for you to switch attention when needed.

2.      Provides access to all sounds, which is important for your brain

Good hearing helps your brain to stay fit throughout your life—and helps avoid many other health problems. 1,2,3 In short, hearing health contributes to brain health. That is why we continue to develop BrainHearing™ technology for our Ponto devices. Traditional sound processors improve speech intelligibility by removing sound – using technologies, such as directionality and speech prioritization. Moreover, with traditional sound processors, whenever there is a risk of feedback, gain is reduced. New research now shows that the brain needs access to all sounds from the full soundscape to help it make sense of what it hears.4,5

Hear the difference

With the BrainHearing technologies in Ponto 5 processors, such as OpenSound Navigator and OpenSound Optimizer™, users have access to more sound than ever before. This has resulted in outstanding results in improving speech understanding and reducing listening effort.

Better speech understanding

The unique open sound experience of OpenSound Navigator in Ponto 5 gives users access to 360° sound from all around them, which has been shown to improve speech understanding by more than 20%.*6

Less listening effort

The open sound experience also significantly reduces the listening effort needed to make sense of sound. Pupillometry tests carried out on the OpenSound Navigator showed overall pupil dilation was reduced by 36%.*6

How can you measure listening effort? Pupillometry tests measure the listener’s pupil size as an
indicator of brain activity. In listening tests, pupil dilation reflects the effort needed to understand: the bigger the pupil, the greater the effort. 6

*Increased speech understanding with OpenSound Navigator ON measured as a percentage relative to the baseline with OpenSound Navigator OFF.

1.      Recognizes the difference between “Noise” and “Sound”

Kevin Hotaling is a Ponto user* and had this to share regarding his real-life experience with OpenSound Navigator:

“When I first wore a Ponto device with OpenSound Navigator after having used an older model for years, it was a truly awakening experience. After events in public venues and family gatherings where lots of sound was present, I noticed the system I was wearing put in a type of effort that I didn’t believe possible at the time. My device seemed to actively recognize the difference between “Noise” and “Sound.” It also seemed to be prioritizing and amplifying sounds that were important, such as a person’s voice with whom I was speaking, and dampening noises that were not as important, like the movement of dishes in a restaurant or background chatter. After a while, I also noticed I was paying far less attention to the fact that I was wearing a bone-anchored hearing system—and that’s a good thing! I was spending far less energy on trying to hear. The best type of hearing is the type you don’t have to think about, and I finally have that with OpenSound Navigator!”

Connect with other Ponto users

Hearing what others have to say about their experience and getting advice from those who have been in your shoes is invaluable! One easy way to get started is inside the Ponto Care™ app under Information. There are video and written testimonials by Ponto users that you can easily access to check out what others have to say about their Ponto experience. We can also connect you with an Oticon Medical Ponto Advocate. Simply contact Oticon Medical online  or call 888-277-8014.

Another way to connect is by following our Oticon Medical Facebook Page. Here you can chat with Ponto users, as well as read interesting posts and short articles.

Try the open sound experience for yourself. Ask for a trial of Ponto 5 Mini or Ponto 5 SuperPower and congratulations from our team on beginning your journey toward better hearing health!

About the Author

Gail Leininger, Au.D., CCC-A is an audiologist who has worked with implantable technologies for over twenty years. She is an Auditory Technical Specialist for Oticon Medical.

* Financial Disclosure

Kevin Hotaling is an employee of Oticon Medical. He is a Ponto user of seven years, and has been a consumer advocate, speaker, and ambassador with Oticon Medical for just as long.

 References

1 Amieva, H., et al. (2018). Death, depression, disability, and dementia associated with self-reported hearing problems: a 25-year study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 73(10), 1383-1389

2 Lin, F. R., et al. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 214-220

3 Lin, F. R., et al. (2012). Hearing loss and falls among older adults in the United States. Archives of internal medicine, 172(4), 369-371

4 O'Sullivan, et al. (2019). Hierarchical Encoding of Attended Auditory Objects in Multi-talker Speech Perception. Neuron, 104(6), 1195-1209

5 Puvvada, K. C. et al. (2017). Cortical representations of speech in a multi-talker auditory scene. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(38), 9189-9196

6 Manuscript in preparation, Data on File - Clinical study BC102

Bianchi, F, Weile, J N et al. (2020). OpenSound Navigator™ for Ponto, Oticon Medical white paper 215170.

[Oticon Medical us website link https://www.oticonmedical.com/us/the-new/open-sound-navigator ]

Enjoying Music with Ponto

“Where words fail, music speaks.” —  Hans Christian Anderson

 Think of a favorite memory that involves music.

Perhaps it was when you attended an outdoor concert on a beautiful summer day with family and friends. Or that moment when you blasted your favorite song on the car radio with the windows down. What is it about hearing a certain song that can transport you back to a happy day in your life? Undoubtedly, music touches our hearts and minds in a way that few things can.

If you are someone with a hearing loss, music may sound different to you than it used to. Certain notes might sound flat. The lyrics of a song might be more difficult to identify. You might long to hear certain instruments in the orchestra again. Losing a connection to music is another hidden challenge presented by hearing loss presents.

In today’s world, hearing device users are fortunate to have access to technology that can make listening to music more enjoyable. If you use a Ponto™ device, let’s look at a few ways that your hearing care professional can optimize your processor to help make music sound better to you.

Ask your audiologist to make you a music program

Music is very different than speech. Music contains volume and pitch changes that don’t occur in conversational speech. A challenge for bone anchored hearing aid users is that, while their devices are designed to emphasize speech, those same pitch and volume enhancements needed to understand speech can interfere with music enjoyment.

A music program is designed to allow the hearing device to accept a wider range of frequencies and lessen noise reduction. In the Ponto 5 Mini, your clinician has access to a preset music program with settings that are guided by the latest research into listening to music through hearing devices. You can access your music program using the Oticon ON™ app paired to your smartphone by selecting it when listening to music. If you are a Ponto 3 SuperPower patient, your audiologist can create a music program that can be accessed with your Oticon Medical Streamer. If you haven’t tested a music program yet, ask your audiologist to create one for you at your next visit and listen to the difference.

Use your wireless accessories to stream music directly to your Ponto family device

Ponto hearing device users are fortunate to have access to a wealth of accessories that can help them enjoy music. Let’s talk about how you might use these wireless accessories. 

The ConnectClip

The ConnectClip™ is a multi-function accessory that is compatible with our Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 Mini devices. The ConnectClip is easily paired to your Ponto and a smartphone. You can use it to stream music from your favorite Spotify™ or Apple® Music playlist directly to your device. The music volume can be adjusted right on the ConnectClip for a hands-free listening experience.

The EduMic

The EduMic™ is widely known as a wireless accessory with educational benefits for pediatric patients. It is a one-to-many device that is capable of so much, including accepting a streaming signal from an FM transmitter in educational settings. But did you know that you can also use EduMic in “jack mode” to listen to music? If you want to enjoy music from a laptop or a wireless speaker that has a jack cable plug-in, you can plug in your EduMic and stream the audio directly to a Ponto 4 or Ponto 5 Mini. The EduMic is shipped with the 3.5 mm jack cable required, so no need to shop for anything extra. As an added bonus, the EduMic is currently offered as one of the free accessory options for patients placing a new Ponto 5 Mini order.

The Oticon Medical Streamer

For our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients, you can use your connected Oticon Medical Streamer to link to a music system, either wirelessly using Bluetooth®, or a 3.5 mm jack cable if you prefer to plug in. Worn around the patient’s neck, the Oticon Medical Streamer also offers patients an entirely hands-free music listening experience in either mode.

Take note of assistive devices available to hearing device users

Many theaters and concert halls have a telecoil loop system that allows audio to be transmitted to a hearing device using the telecoil.  A loop system uses electromagnetic energy to transmit the audio from the venue to its patrons with hearing loss. Our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients can access their telecoil with the use of the Oticon Medical Streamer. The telecoil in the streamer picks up the electromagnetic energy that is transmitted from the loop system in the room, allowing the user to access the audio from the stage directly in their device. Simply pressing the “AUX” button on the lower right side of the streamer for two seconds will activate the telecoil feature.  If you are a Ponto 5 Mini patient using the EduMic, you can use its telecoil mode to stream the telecoil signal from a theater or music venue. The next time you are seeing a concert or a play in a live theater, be sure to ask whether it is “looped”.

Enjoy music with your Ponto bone anchored hearing system

Thanks to the advanced technology in Oticon Medical devices and wireless accessories, bone anchored hearing device users have more options than ever when it comes to music enjoyment. Be sure to visit your audiologist to learn more about how you can take advantage of the options available to you.

About the author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

IFTTT: How Ponto Users Benefit from If This Then That

When you see the acronym IFTTT, don’t be alarmed or intimidated. It stands for If This Then That. It is a great way to connect your apps and notifications in one spot, which is why Oticon Medical has joined the revolution and incorporated it into our Ponto™ bone anchored hearing systems, starting with the Ponto 4 and now the Ponto 5 Mini. This expanding internet-based cloud service enables you to link together a range of products and solutions that otherwise have nothing to do with each other.

Currently, there are between 400 and 500 products and services that have a channel on IFTTT. It is free to the user while companies pay to be part of the ecosystem. “Applets” are the key to making the connections happen and have been created to provide little pieces of automated instructions that both user and company can create. Not to worry—the app is designed to walk you through connecting your devices to the Oticon ON™ app and allows you to customize your Ponto notifications to your liking.

Why are we talking about IFTTT?

The IFTTT protocol allows notifications to be sent to your Ponto 4 or Ponto 5 Mini processor. However, there are some requirements. The first one we already mentioned—you need to have a Ponto 4 or Ponto 5 Mini processor that directly connects to the Oticon ON app with an internet connection. This of course requires you to have a smartphone with the Oticon ON app, which can be found in the Apple App Store® or Google Play™ Store. When you are connected with an Apple iPhone® 5 or newer model, the notification will be sent directly to your Ponto processor. This is considered the Play text to speech process in the applets. If you would like to connect with your Android™ device, you would need a ConnectClip™ in order for the notifications to be sent to your Ponto processor.

How to get started?

Once you have those connections established to the ON app, you will need to set up an IFTTT account. This can easily be done by downloading the app and following the prompts. You can use an email account or your AppleID® account to start. Again, the best part is that it is free!

What do you do once you have established the account?

An applet can be chosen on the app or created for an If This…Then That connection. This will allow you to receive notification from different internet-enabled devices. For instance, if you have a video doorbell, the process will work as follows:

  • Someone rings the internet-connected doorbell
  • A message to IFTTT is triggered via the internet
  • IFTTT sends a message to your Oticon ON app on the smartphone
  • The ON App triggers the voice message picked by the Ponto 4 or 5 Mini (in this case, “someone is at the front door”)

To set this up, you would begin by creating the “If This,” which would be your video doorbell. You may choose a trigger, such as motion or a new ring of the doorbell detected. Once selected, you would then select a “Then That,” which in this case would probably be the Oticon ON app’s Play text to speech (note: works with the direct streaming to iPhone, but Android users can also take advantage of this feature when using the ConnectClip.). Once finished, the notification would go directly to your Ponto 4 or 5 Mini processor.

Another great way to utilize this technology would be when the Oticon ON app detects your battery is low. This is especially helpful for parents of young wearers, because the app could have a preset instruction to ping the IFTTT network when your child has a low battery. The IFTTT network could then look at the created instruction or applet and automatically send you, a teacher, or a babysitter a text message wherever you or they might be.

What can IFTTT connect?

There are hundreds of app and smart devices for which you can create IFTTT applets—the possibilities are endless. For instance, having an internet-connected sound processor means being able to turn on a kitchen appliance when turning on your device (coffee, anyone?) in the morning or your house lights based on GPS information.

How will my information be used?

This process runs through your Oticon ON app; therefore, all the data is yours. IFTTT does not store or use your information. You will be asked to log into your internet-enabled device when creating the applets in IFTTT. However, there is no storage of data, because it is simply a messaging device connecting the system together.

For more privacy information, please refer to the Oticon ON app privacy policy (Oticon.com), Privacy policy – IFTTT, and Oticon Medical privacy-policy.

Now you are ready to connect your Ponto 4 or 5 Mini to any internet-enabled device with IFTTT and the Oticon ON app!

About the author

Nicole Maxam, AuD, CCC-A serves as an Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She has been an audiologist for over 16 years with experience in implantable technologies.

A Living List of Apps for Children and Adults with Hearing Loss

2020 Update

Melissa Tumblin, founder of Ear Community and Oticon Medical Ambassador, originally shared this great list of mobile apps for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. We are resharing it with an update that includes apps for Android™ users as well as the original spreadsheet for iPhone® apps.

We thank audiologist Tina Childress, who is also hard of hearing, for compiling the original spreadsheet. Thanks also goes out to Kevin Martin, editor at Joy of Android, for sharing the article on Android apps.

iPhone apps for the hard of hearing

To view the spreadsheet, click below. Here are a few pointers to help you navigate through this available information:

  • Start on the “Welcome” tab to understand how the apps are chosen and categorized
  • Click through each tab of the spreadsheet to see the list of apps for that category
  • To find out more about an app, click on the cell with the app’s hyperlink. You’ll then have the option to “go to link;” click the link
  • Clicking the link will take you to the application’s information page on iTunes.com. Here, you can see screenshots of the app, read more about it and even view in iTunes where you can download the application. You can also search for the app in the App Store and download it directly to your phone

Helpful Resources and Applications

Click on the image above or here to see the full spreadsheet.

Android apps for the hearing impaired

In this article from Joy of Android, you will find five useful apps for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These apps are available in the Google Play™ store.

Click here for Ponto apps and accessories from Oticon Medical.

Do you know of a great app? Let us know in the comments section!

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_5

Part 5 of 5

In Part 4 of this series, I provided tips on how to put the “social” in your social media. In this edition, the conclusion, I’ll talk about how to analyze your performance and adjust if you find you’re off-track in reaching your goals.

Analyze and adapt

All social media platforms offer statistics you can use to track the performance of each post you’re making. You’ll want to keep an eye on Engagement in particular – the number of Likes/Shares/Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets and comments on Twitter, and “regrams” and comments on Instagram. By reviewing and tracking this data you can make informed content strategy decisions based on which items performed well or not. Expect that you’ll have to periodically tweak your topics, balance of post types, post release times, and more over time as audience makeup and preferences change.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your Reach to make sure your audience is even seeing your posts. This is especially true now that Facebook has made it all but impossible to reach your entire (or even the majority of) your Fans/Followers list without paying to boost a post. You might need to strategize and decide which posts you should boost and how much money you can afford to put behind these to reach as many people as possible. Obviously, anything boosted should include a clear call to action in support of your goal.

Nothing succeeds like success

Ultimately, you will know your online strategy is working if you attain that defined and measurable goal you set. Whether it’s an increase in donations or number of event attendees, gaining more advocates for your cause or influencing legislation, skillful utilization of social media can go a long way toward helping advocates like you achieve your goals.

Do you or a loved one need your hearing tested? Find a clinic near you now!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_4

Part 4 of 5

In Part 3 of this series, I provided suggestions on how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach. This week, in Part 4, I offer tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

Sharing is caring

The point of social media is interaction. You want to draw visitors to your content, engage with it (and you), and ideally take an action that supports your established goal. The best way to do this is make sure whatever you share is interesting and relevant to your target audience and includes an engaging visual element (photo, .gif, or video).

Regularity is also key, so make sure you establish a content release schedule you can manage consistently. This rewards audience loyalty to your properties, which in turn allows you compete against all the other social outlets vying for their attention. Examples of good schedules include one post on Facebook or three-five daily tweets on Twitter per day. Remember, you can utilize a content management platform like HootSuite to schedule posts/tweets in advance so that you aren’t overwhelmed by a frequent need to post. Even without one of these platforms, you can schedule ahead on Facebook from the platform itself.

Don’t forget the hashtags

Make sure you learn how to use hashtags on all your platforms – they’re not just for Twitter anymore! “Ride” popular hashtags related to your cause so that more of your potential audience can discover your content. Using single-sided deafness (SSD) as our model cause again, you could include #deaf, #hearingloss, or #hoh regularly with your posts, which makes them show up when someone performs one of these common searches for content. Additionally, if you see a hashtag is trending that relates to your cause (e.g., #WorldHearingDay) you could include it in a post linking SSD to the importance of getting your hearing checked. Just make sure you don’t go crazy with the hashtags – using too many in relation to the amount of content provided in a post has been shown to reduce engagement.

One more post to go in this series! In my next post, I’ll provide an overview on how to analyze the results of your online efforts and tweak them to achieve your goals.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_3

Part 3 of 5

In Part 2 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your online activities. This week, in Part 3, I’m going to take you through how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach.

Choose the right channels

I recommend setting up a “home base” online first — a website if you have a larger organization with multiple goals or a blog page if your organization is small or a solo effort. WordPress and Wix are two examples of free, user-friendly site builders available to help you establish a basic web presence. Your site or blog will provide a source of regular content to share through your social media properties. It will also give you a central location to which you can drive online visitors and get them to take an action (e.g., donate, learn more, sign up for emails and events, etc.), which you will need for tracking purposes.

Research your target audiences and where they tend to gather online to assess which social media platforms will best support your efforts. Focus on developing one or two properties first. Most activists and advocates start with Facebook and Twitter, but platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat can be quite effective as well.

A YouTube channel is a powerful tool, as videos increase engagement with social posts. They can be shared from your channel by friend, fans, and followers through every social media platform, and are the content likeliest to go viral. However, you (or someone in your organization) obviously needs the expertise and time to create them.

LinkedIn tends to draw a more career-focused, professional audience, which may or may not suit your goals. Reddit gets tremendous traffic, but many find it complicated, riddled with trolls, and too much of an attention drain to manage. Tumblr is popular, especially with younger audiences (tweens, teens, and 20-somethings primarily) — depending on your goal, that audience might be worth your effort to cultivate but go in knowing that it is a constantly updating outlet. Plus, you’ll be competing with extremely active fandoms and similar lighthearted content for attention.

Managing multiple social properties

If you do reach a point where you want to utilize multiple platforms, it’s a good idea to learn a social media management tool (a couple tried-and-true options offering free basic versions include HootSuite and TweetDeck). These allow you to schedule multiple posts across platforms even in advance, plus they let you monitor comments and messages, so you can interact with your audiences in a timely and consistent fashion. If you’re willing to invest in upgraded versions, you can use them to track valuable performance statistics like audience engagement all in one spot.

Hope this information is helpful! In my next post, I’ll provide tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_2

Part 2 of 5

In Part 1 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on what to consider before establishing your online presence. This week, in Part 2, I’m going to guide you through how to define the goals you hope to reach by taking your advocacy online.

Be S.M.A.R.T.

Continuing with single-sided deafness (SSD) advocacy as an example cause, let’s say you start with a goal of, “To raise awareness of single-sided deafness”. That’s a fine start, but you should further define what you hope to achieve online in order to track your progress and results. Most social media professionals utilize the S.M.A.R.T. method to establish clear and attainable goals. Let’s look at how this works by using this method to refine our sample goal:

  • Specific. The more precisely defined, the better. If you’re defining an online presence, here are some examples to help you set specific goals:
    • Who — do you want to reach by taking your advocacy online?
    • What — do you intend to accomplish for your cause?
    • When — what milestones do you want to reach on your way to the goal?
    • Where — do you want your online reach to extend (local, countrywide, global)?
    • Why — are you choosing to expand your advocacy to include online efforts?
    • How — are you going to use social media to achieve your goal?

This leads to a clearer, more precisely defined goal, e.g., “To raise public awareness in the U.S. of the issues affecting those living with single-sided deafness in order to increase donations this year.”

 

  • Measurable. How do you know if you’ve increased donations? Set a measurement, such as, “Double the number of donations received over last year.”
  • Attainable. Look closely at that number and make sure it’s achievable. It’s usually wise to start smaller and then build over time. In this case, perhaps something more attainable would be, “Increase donations by 10 percent over last year.”
  • Relevant. Consider whether social media provides an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise. If so, then ask yourself, “How?” Adjust your goal to focus on what you plan to achieve using tools uniquely available online, such as, “Increase donations by 10 percent this year by driving Friends/Fans/Followers to GoFundMe campaign.”
  • Time-based. Goals bound by specific timeframes are easier to track and attain. Rather than a vague “this year”, try, “Increase donations by 1-2 percent each month in 2019 by driving online audiences to GoFundMe campaign, with year-end goal of increasing overall donations by 10 percent.”

Still with me? Great! In my next post, I’ll discuss how to choose the best social media channels for your advocacy outreach.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.