Dr. Emily Taylor, known as Dr. Ear Wax to her social media followers, is using social media to educate the public about the importance of hearing health. Loud noise exposure is the reason more than 30 million people suffer from permanent hearing loss. Yet, with the right protection and education, it can be preventable. As a practicing audiologist, Dr. Taylor is now on a mission to raise awareness around hearing safety. And it’s clearly a message people want to hear. Dr. Taylor sat down with Jessica Abo to share her journey and how other entrepreneurs can use social media to grow their brands.
Jessica Abo: Dr. Taylor, you run your own audiology practice in Maryland. How did your day job turn you into a TikTok star?
Dr. Emily Taylor: As an audiologist, one of my favorite things to do is ear wax removal. And I thought there was a fun place for this on TikTok. In my mind, I was picturing this fun channel for people to come to get their fix of gross ear wax removals. Little did I know that is not the direction that my page took, and I am so happy it went in a different direction.
Leading up into September of last year, 2021, I was going to my first music festival in what felt like ages. To celebrate, I was going to treat myself to some new custom hearing protection. And one of the companies I like, called Phonak, they just came out with a new hearing-protection line, so I wanted to try it.
As my colleague was taking impressions of my ear canals, I decided to pick up my camera and start filming. The first footage shows me having the impression material put in my ear, and then it also shows me taking it out.
Fast forward to the festival. I had my sister take footage of me taking the custom hearing protection out of the pouch. And then, I had her film me putting it in my ear and then panning over to the concert.
After the festival, I came home, looked at the footage, and started Dr. Ear Wax on TikTok. That first video completely blew up. Then, all of a sudden, I was getting thousands of views every 20 minutes. It was exciting.
What were some of the trends that you noticed in the content?
I noticed the most-viewed videos and the ones that went most viral were the ones of me taking ear-canal impressions and then showing the result of the custom hearing protection. Every day, we were getting tons of questions asking, “Why is this important? What are you doing in the video?” This gave me kind of the start of the platform to really use this as an educational tool. It’s a fun way to talk to other people in that younger generation and teach them about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss.
As someone who experiences ringing in her ears every day because I went to too many concerts when I was younger and didn’t know about protecting my hearing, this is a conversation we should be having with everybody so that people don’t experience what I’m going through.
Noise-induced hearing loss in most cases is completely preventable, yet we’re not having that conversation. This should be taught in health class, and it’s something that’s so easy to prevent.
How would you say social media has helped your business?
With the growth of our social media platforms, including Instagram and TikTok, we have been getting tons of phone calls asking to schedule ear canal cleaning visits, as well as coming in for custom hearing protection. That’s my favorite thing; to receive a phone call from someone who saw us on TikTok and they care enough to want to protect their hearing, too. Those are probably my favorite phone calls to receive.
Also, having a TikTok account like this, I get tons of questions online, and it gives me the opportunity to help people all over the country, which has been really rewarding for me.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are looking to use social media to create brand awareness?
My first piece of advice is to do it. Post the video. You never know what’s going to stick, so try a variety of things. My next piece of advice is to be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be consistent, and just give it time to really blow up. Our first few videos got very little likes. Then, suddenly one video took off, which kind of fed all the other videos.
Post what’s making you happy. Post what’s feeling real to you. And engage with the community; Engage with the followers. They want to know that you are a real person who cares. When people ask me legitimate audiology questions, I love responding to them. I love educating the public. I love helping people fix their problems, and I love pointing them in the right direction.
Listen to what people have to say. Even if you thought your page was for one thing, if other people are enjoying it for something else, go off that. Also, if one video went viral, think about why it was successful, and then try to recreate it in other creative ways.