If Google is the New York City of the Internet, YouTube is Los Angeles — it gets more than 1 billion unique visitors a year, watching more than 4 billion hours of content.
Top surgical videos get millions of views, and even videos from smaller local practices can get thousands of views and dozens of shares. Patients like getting information from experts, and they like getting to know doctors before they decide who to trust with their healthcare.
The good news is that YouTube, and other video platforms, are easier to use than you may think. No professional help or fancy cameras are needed, though you can upgrade once you get comfortable with them. Here, we’ll show you what kind of videos appeal most to prospective patients, as well as a step-by-step tactical guide to starting your YouTube channel.
Letting patients see the real you isn’t just a benefit of YouTube marketing — it’s the point. Video (and social media in general) is the perfect medium to share your personality, bedside manner, and practice philosophy. Viewers can see you work, watch you interact with patients, get to know your staff, and hear you provide helpful tips or information about timely topics. This helps them connect with you emotionally before setting foot in your office or picking up the phone.
It can also help you establish or reinforce a brand: how you want patients to see you and your practice. Do you have a comforting voice and gentle touch? Are you a knowledgeable specialist with all of the answers? Is your office bright and welcoming and your staff friendly? Are you funny, putting your patients at ease? These are things that can set you apart from other doctors, and things that show clearly on video.
So what’s your thing, and how do you show it off? A welcoming doctor might start with an iPhone tour of the office. A knowledgeable expert might do an explainer video or even a live procedure. It’s up to you (and your iPhone).
These are the most straightforward videos that you’re likely to produce as a marketing effort. They’re a (polished) depiction of everyday life at your office for people who value that kind of familiarity as they choose their new doctor.
Meet the Practice. Give patients an idea of what they’ll experience when they come to your office for the first time. Show them around the office, introduce them to the staff, maybe let them talk to a happy patient or catch a glimpse of the doctor in action. This is also a good time to provide some new patient information about what to bring to the office and what to expect for their first visit.
Meet the Doctor. Take 30 to 90 seconds to introduce yourself to the camera and tell prospective patients what you do, why you do it, and why they want you to be their doctor.
If your practice produces exceptional results, show them off with real stories of successful cases.
Patient Testimonials. In the age of online reviews, a testimonial from a satisfied patient means more than anything you might say about your own practice. Try to get a representative sampling so that prospective patients can see people like themselves, coming away happy.
Before and After. If your practice handles anything visible or cosmetic, before-and-after videos are a great way to show off results. Dentists, orthodontists, plastic surgeons, and dermatologists are perfect candidates for before and after videos, but they’re not the only doctors who can show off a happy ending — a video showing a patient’s improved quality of life after an orthopedic or neurological procedure is also upbeat and moving.
Interview the patient and family, interview your care team, use old and new photos, and b-roll of the patient living and loving their new life.
Educational and informational videos aren’t just an opportunity to communicate with current and prospective patients — they’re a chance to let the YouTube-viewing world know you’re an expert. Because the information provided in these videos is more general, rather than specific to your practice, they’re frequently more shareable and great for reputation enhancement and even media attention.
News and Information. If a medical issue is in the news or a timely topic arises, YouTube is a perfect platform to share knowledge. Summertime skincare tips, holiday nutrition tips, advice on avoiding injury on the baseball field or preparing young kids for the first day of kindergarten — if you’re an expert, give your audience the benefit of your expertise.
Procedurals. Medical procedures can be scary to just about anyone who didn’t study them in school (or watch The Operation fanatically as a child). Take some of the scares away from the procedure by explaining it in comforting terms, sharing diagrams and non-gross, non-threatening images, and showing pictures of successful results. You can also provide pre- and post-procedure information to help patients prepare.
Patient Questions. The best way to know what your patients wonder about — and worry about — is to ask them. And the best way to let them know that you care is to answer their questions. Solicit questions from your patients, and others, in your office or on social media, and then answer them on video. Make a series out of it by answering questions one at a time or grouping them into topics to address all at once. You know your stuff, you listen, and you care — a crucial combination in a doctor.
If you’ve ever looked at your face in the mirror and thought, “Is that a pore of Winer?” you’re probably a fan of dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, known to YouTube fans as Dr. Pimple Popper. Dr. Lee has gained more than 1.5 million subscribers and countless views with her videos of pimple and cyst extractions of the type you’re not supposed to attempt at home. (Her most popular video, a blackhead extraction from the back of an 85-year-old woman, has nearly 18 million views.)
A procedure performed skillfully and with positive results, live and on camera, is a testimonial all by itself. All you need is a willing patient, a well-lit procedure room, a cameraperson with an iron stomach, and a perfectly performed procedure. (Include a warning note at the beginning of more graphic videos — sensitive viewers will thank you.) Show off your style, skill, and bedside manner as viewers watch medicine happen right before their eyes.
Where do I start? Establishing a YouTube presence is pretty simple. You already have your Google My Business account established, so the most complicated part of setting up a channel is already done for you. (How do you do the rest? There’s a YouTube video about that.)
Your YouTube debut doesn’t require a professional film studio or high-end equipment. While you might want to eventually upgrade your gear, most of what you need to get started is probably in your office — or even in your pocket — right now.
Camera. Your iPhone does a perfectly serviceable job of shooting video — it’s the weapon of choice for Dr. Pimple Popper’s nurse-camerawoman — and in ideal shooting conditions, an iPhone 6s can hold its own next to some pro-level cameras. But if you plan on shooting a lot in the less-than-ideal lighting of your standard office or procedure room, consider leveling up to a DSLR, which can give you more control over lighting and color. Whether you’re shooting with phone or camera, invest in a tripod for stability (and a steady-handed nurse for pimple-popping procedures).
Audio. Your camera’s onboard microphone isn’t going to give you quality sound at any kind of a distance, so consider a lavalier mic. Another option? Try using the voice memo app on your phone, held just out of frame, and editing in the audio during post-production. (If you’re shooting with a phone, use a second phone for audio.) Clap, or make some other sudden noise, at the beginning of the recording to make it easier to sync audio and video in editing.
Lighting. Natural light is best, but it’s hard to come by inside most doctor’s offices. Do your best with what you have, and remember that multiple sources of light help you avoid unflattering shadows. When you’re setting up to shoot, grab a couple of lamps from the lobby.
Editing software. No need to get fancy — iMovie is cheap and easy.
And you don’t have to stop at just YouTube. While it’s a natural place to start — hosting is free, and as a Google property, YouTube is uniquely SEO-friendly — the content you produce can go a lot of places. Embed a welcome video on your website. Use video to spice up a blog post, or start your own vlog. Share entertaining or informative videos on social media. Include a clip in a presentation to a conference or a local group.
The important thing is that you’re taking advantage of this engaging, effective medium — they’ll laugh! They’ll cry! Hopefully, they’ll share! — to catch the eye, and earn the business, of potential patients who are looking online for medical information from doctors like you.