Editor's Note: This is a further installment in our continuing series of articles about social media and healthcare marketing. YouTube, and other video content sharing platforms, represent a low cost, easy to use and highly effective communications tools to engage and inspire your medical and healthcare marketing audience.
The enormous popularity of YouTube makes it a candidate for nearly every healthcare marketing plan. Poke around the YouTube website and you'll quickly discover it's not just about talking dogs and silly people videos. There's user-originated video content from doctors, hospitals, medical practices, pharmaceuticals, manufacturers, health systems and other healthcare organizations.
Online video is a powerful, but often underutilized, medical marketing tool to attract new patients, retain business, boost search engine ranking, enhance your professional reputation or brand and foster relationships.
Videos are useful for welcome messages, testimonials, hospital information, physician profiles, patient information, commercials, explaining benefits of a procedure or service and many other purposes. YouTube is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to share video content. And, for additional exposure, when you have several videos you can bring them together on your own YouTube channel.
YouTube's Self-Description Decoded
From their website: "About YouTube: Founded in February 2005, YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small."
- "Founded in 2005" – YouTube is a growing youngster that is still evolving with the regular introduction of new features, benefits and technical capabilities (supporting High Definition video, for example). Stay tuned.
- "billions of people" – It's the world's largest video-sharing community, boasting over 700 billion playbacks in 2010 that appeal to wide demographic base of 18-54 year olds.
- "forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire" – It's a presentational social media
- "distribution platform" – They facilitate online video hosting, a highly reliable and cost-savings plus for the user.
- "advertisers large and small" – Mostly it's free to the user, but they do sell advertising.
Healthcare Examples from YouTube
Video content (and video sharing) may not be helpful or appropriate in every healthcare marketing situation, but it's a communications tool that brings value to a wide range of circumstances. Here are a few slices from the YouTube spectrum:
Caregivers & Volunteers: Southwest Stories
Health Info/Health System: Kaiser Permanente
Hospital: Akron Ohio Children's Hospital Channel
Medical Center: Cleveland Clinic Channel
Medical Device: Capsule Tech Channel
Orthodontic Practice: Ortho Braces Orthodontist
Patient Support: Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Podiatry Professional: Brooklyn Foot Doctor
Teaching Hospital: University of Maryland Medical Center
If you're not yet using YouTube as part of your online medical marketing-or you want to expand in that direction-consider the following insights and tips about engaging your target audience with video sharing.
- SIZE DOES MATTER. There are dozens of other video-sharing sites similar to YouTube and you may want to use more than one of them. But since YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla, begin with the best-known names first to generate the widest audience exposure and search engine visibility.
- IT'S YOUR SECOND WEBSITE. Using the YouTube platform, and creating your own YouTube Channel, provides an additional location for your audience to find you. And two sites are more visible to search engines and can help boost business and your page ranking.
- YOUTUBE IS ALSO A SEARCH ENGINE. It's the second largest search engine-following Google, it's parent company-and in the sea of search engine visibility, that's a definite plus to being found online.
- AN ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIUM. Audiovisual content, more so than conversational or text media (such as Twitter), is engaging, even entertaining...and a different means to communicate and develop relationships.
- PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS. YouTube is a powerful adjunct to your main website, blog and other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, YouTube is not an island and can work together with other social media channels. Over 4 million people are connected and auto-sharing to at least one social network.
- PROMOTE AND CROSS-PROMOTE FOR GREATER IMPACT. You don't want to be overlooked in a crowd of millions of videos. Your website should link to your YouTube Channel, your Twitter stream should point to YouTube, your YouTube videos can be used on Facebook, and so on. Have a promotional strategy that includes promoting and cross promoting all of your public faces. Integrating all of your online efforts has synergistic power for greater effectiveness.
- YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A TECHNICAL EXPERT. YouTube provides an online explanation of essentials and instructions for getting started. But Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for medical practices, on the other hand, is a specialized service, and we can help you with that or point you in the right direction to being.
- KEEP IT BRIEF, COMPELLING AND FRESH. Viewers want interesting information presented quickly, so stay on-point, engage the viewer with compelling material. (Slice a long video into shorter segments if needed.) Interesting material will inspire feedback and sharing. If it's boring, don't use it. Add new material and remove or subordinate old video regularly. In fact, if the overall channel theme or purpose is dated, consider replacing it with a timely topic or new channel.
- ENCOURAGE SUBSCRIBERS. When someone "subscribes" to your channel, YouTube is able to notify him or her when new video materials are uploaded. It reminds the visitor of their connection with the topic and encourages return visits and further sharing.
- NOT EVERYTHING "GOES VIRAL." Occasionally a YouTube video really takes off amassing thousands of views. When a video grows exponentially (much like a virus), it's usually a marketing bonus (or an enormous headache). But explosive, "going viral" is not the norm. Set your expectations on consistently presenting quality content that is memorable and valuable to your primary audience, inspires a conversation and engages the visitor.
- LISTEN TO CHANNEL CHATTER. Provocative and timely material can inspire feedback from YouTube channel visitors, and it's important to listen to what's being said about the topic and/or about the provider. That's helpful dialog and direction for what you might want to add or change.
- EXPLORE BEYOND YOUTUBE. One tabulation lists about 60 or so "user-originated content" sites for online social sharing. Each of these has a slightly different approach to basically the same "sharing" concept. In addition to uploading video material, you'll find sites where the content includes slide presentations, sound and music files and "video blogging." (Wikipedia says it's sometimes shortened to "vlogging.") Many are free, but some have a fee. Various sharing sites differentiate by subject, focus or by language...so shop around for the best fit beyond YouTube.
YouTube and other video sharing platforms are valuable tools for medical marketing. In contrast to TV commercials, viewers who find you are proactively searching for the subject and it's an opportunity to reach a receptive and interested audience.
Watch for more in this series about social media for healthcare marketing. Everyone's situation is unique, but everyone's social media marketing should be profitable. Take a look at the Healthcare Success YouTube Channel.