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The Pros and Cons of Physicians Creating a YouTube Channel

Social media. It’s everywhere. Can we, as physicians, ignore this marketing type’s importance in 2023?

Not if you listen to what PostBeyond has to say. They report that “as 2022 closed and opened to 2023, many markets entered into a recession…astute marketing managers and leaders can see why social media marketing is important, now more than ever.

“This is a tough economy, and chances are that it’ll be harder to get new customers and, just as importantly, keep your existing customers. It’s not just about fresh leads but keeping revenue up across every front. The use of social media marketing will be critical for engaging existing customers, reaching new audiences, building trust and loyalty (that carries into renewals, upsell and cross-sell growth, etc.), and much more.” – Daniel Ku, Director of Marketing, PostBeyond.

According to Gerhardt, YouTube reports users watch the channel more than 1 billion hours daily. Not only do users watch billions of hours of video, but they also generate billions of views.

Does this also apply to us as doctors and physicians? Do we all need to jump on the bandwagon and start recording a professional YouTube channel? How much work will this entail, and are the returns worth the effort?

Writing at KevinMd.com, Antonio Webb certainly thinks so. He wrote a recent article entitled “Why Every Physician Should Be On YouTube.” Webb is an orthopedic surgeon with his own self-titled YouTube channel.

Webb says that:

“Video is one of the most powerful tools in marketing. According to Google, 64% of consumers use video to research healthcare professionals (doctors, dentists, etc.) and 56% watch videos to learn about specific health treatments or problems….”

YouTube Statistics In 2023

You may be surprised to learn about some of the most recent YouTube stats on this 15-year-old platform:

  • YouTube has 1.7 billion unique monthly visitors.
  • 54% of YouTube users are male.
  • 62% of users access YouTube daily in the United States.
  • The average amount of time spent on YouTube is 19 minutes a day.
  • YouTube ranks as the world’s second-most visited website (after Google).
  • 694,000 hours of video are streamed on YouTube every minute of the day.
  • 81% of people with internet access use YouTube.
  • YouTube Shorts get 15 billion daily views.
  • More than 33% of internet users watch some type of tutorial or how-to video in a week.
  • YouTube ads can reach 2.56 billion users.

Another statistic, specifically about physician-based YouTube channels, states that only 11% of hospitals in the United States have their own YouTube channel (Journal of Communication in Healthcare).

Various YouTube Statistics

The biggest incentive to start a physician-based YouTube channel is that YouTube Health now certifies channels of licensed health professionals who produce health-related content. You can apply to be a source in YouTube health features as the company is “looking to expand eligibility for authoritative sources.” 

The minimum eligibility requirements to be approved by YouTube Health are:

  • You “attest to the Health Information Sharing Principles. Experts convened by CMSS, NAM, and The WHO developed these principles outlining key aspects of info sharing. These aspects help define what it means to be a credible source of health info on social media.”
  • You are “licensed in one of these health professions in the country/region that you’re applying to as an authoritative source. For example, you must be a licensed nurse in the United States to be eligible for the health features in the United States. If you’re applying on behalf of an organization, you must be a licensed professional in one of these professions. You must also oversee and review the content your organization posts on YouTube.
  • You are a licensed Doctor (eligible to practice medicine in the relevant country)
  • You are a licensed Nurse / Registered Nurse (US only)
  • You are a licensed Psychologist or equivalent

Reasons To Create A Physician YouTube Channel In 2023

There are plenty of reasons to create a physician YouTube channel in 2023. Some of the most compelling reasons to consider starting your own YouTube channel this year are:

  1. YouTube algorithms work to help you.
  2. The entry barrier is extremely low.
  3. The videos can be viewed for years.
  4. Work once, use in multiple ways.
  5. Monetize your YouTube channel.
  6. Become a known expert in your specialty.
  7. Make a significant impact with YouTube videos.

YouTube algorithms work to help you. Its algorithms promote videos no matter your channel size. There are no “lucky” videos; rather, YouTube recommends your channel when your video performs well in six areas:

  • Positive survey responses
  • YouTube likes
  • High average-view duration
  • YouTube video shares
  • High YouTube click-through rates
  • Successful collaborative filtering

The entry barrier to starting and running a YouTube channel is extremely low. It’s free to use, easy to upload and share content, and lets you connect with people worldwide at the push of a button.

Liking or sharing a video and following a channel will not cost you anything. You can choose to have your video play without any advertisements, but this will cost you a premium subscription. 

You can poll or post updates on your videos to make them more entertaining. Neither of these requires any special training or technical skills.

The videos can be viewed for years. YouTube’s long-lasting shelf life means your audience can view content, and actually, YouTube rewards older content. The “social currency of YouTube is views.” 

Once you have a “good chunk of views” (1,000+ for consumer/general interest and less for specialized content), YouTube will serve your content to more people. “Views beget views.”

Work once, use in multiple ways. Shooting one video gives you material for multiple applications. This feature is a brilliant way to save time and effort by repurposing one video for your other social media platforms.

All it takes is a little editing to create “new” content that will reward you with more viewers.

Recording a YouTube Video

Five ways to repurpose your YouTube videos are:

  • Trimming videos to fit different platforms
  • Creating shorter clips or highlights
  • Adding captions or subtitles
  • Incorporating new footage or graphics
  • Turning your YouTube video into a podcast

Monetize your YouTube channel. YouTube has created a Partner Program (YPP) that lets you monetize your channel. Create a second income stream as a side hustle or replace your income completely.

You need to hit two benchmarks before you can apply to the YPP:

  • Within 12 months, you’ll need to have generated at least 4,000 hours of public watch time.
  • Attracted at least 1,000 subscribers to your channel.

Once you’ve hit these benchmarks, it’s easy to complete your application in your YouTube Studio. It takes three simple steps to start earning money from your content:

  • Read and agree to the YPP’s terms of service
  • Set up a Google AdSense account on your channel
  • Wait until YouTube reviews your channel and approves your application

Become a known expert in your specialty. Become a known expert in your field, and build a following not limited by geographical distance. Build your brand and promote your practice.

Part of becoming a known expert is looking the part. Presentation is key as the medium is all about visuals. Ensure your profile photo (channel icon) and your channel background banner image are in the correct dimensions. 

Another part of becoming known as an expert is following a consistent content creation routine in both video release times and the kinds of video you produce. This helps to ensure you are seen as a steady, on-brand content creator.

A Physician Building a Following on YouTube

It’s critical to get right to the point with your videos. No one wants to watch several minutes worth of introduction when they can hear the information in a concise 30-second clip. Less is more if you don’t want your viewers to click away and watch something that better keeps their attention.

Stay up to date on your niche specialty. If your channel’s information is dated and healthcare has developed new treatments, your credibility will be damaged and your expertise questioned.

Make a significant impact. With one of the top YouTube channels, Doctor Mike, aka Mikhail Varshavski, is proud of his ability to make a significant impact outside of just his medical practice.

I love how healthcare YouTube videos can intersect at the point of our passion for people’s well-being, our interest in medicine, and our desire to make a difference in the world. This is one of the most rewarding ways to serve our community and the world.

Reasons Not To Create A Physician YouTube Channel In 2023

There are far fewer reasons posted online for not creating a physician YouTube channel in 2023. And even these reasons seem to be more about a mindset that, if changed, could put you firmly in the camp of having every reason to create and grow your channel,

  1. You want money right now.
  2. You fail to see the big picture.
  3. You’re just not committed.
  4. You don’t know your audience.
  5. You haven’t taken the time to develop the necessary skills.

You want money right now. Can you make money with a YouTube channel? Absolutely, but YouTube rewards those who treat it like a business before it starts to pay like a business. And if you don’t see having time to invest, this may not be the right business for you.

You fail to see the big picture. A YouTube channel has great growth potential and can be used as a tool to grow your clinical business as well as your information business. Not everyone is successful simply from posting videos, but combining videos with products or services can let you reap the rewards.

You’re just not committed. A successful YouTube channel takes a time commitment. Commitment to creating the content and recording the video, including editing time. The best YouTube videos post a video at least once a week.

A Physician Not Feeling Committed

You don’t know your audience. Unless you think about your audience in a focused and targeted way, your videos will be random, making it more difficult to build a solid following.

You haven’t taken the time to develop the necessary skills. The shortlist of skills you’ll need to develop or hire someone to do for you is how to film and edit video, create basic designs, understand keywords and SEO, and make thumbnails. Of course, you’ll want to have a discernable personality that translates to film, and it helps to have a smiling resting face!

Perhaps the only caution for creating and growing a YouTube channel comes from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It finds that YouTube is not a reliable source of “medical and health-related information.”

But even this article only focuses on those who may need more hard work to provide quality content. Overall, the NLM is concerned that YouTube’s “popularity-driven metrics such as the number of views and likes should not be considered quality indicators.”

They recommend YouTube “should improve its ranking and recommender system to promote higher-quality content. One way is to consider expert reviews of medical and health-related videos and to include their assessment data in the ranking algorithm.”

Tips For Using YouTube That Will Increase The Authority Of Your Site

If you choose to create a YouTube channel, you’ll want to focus energy and attention on becoming an authority in your chosen field. YouTube measures how authoritative you are by considering how many “votes” your video gets. 

Some of the best (and doable) tips that will help you achieve authority include:

Tip #1: Play nice with other website owners. “Every time someone embeds your video in their website, it counts as a vote in favor of your video.”

As Google gives more authority to websites with great content that are regularly updated, the more embedders you get, the higher your video will rank in the search results. This makes it worthwhile to cultivate relationships with similar types of websites.

Tip #2: Combine your domain name and your YouTube channel name. By using the same name for your website as your YouTube channel, YouTube will understand that you’re the official representative of your brand. 

This lets the platform direct more people to your site when they search for your brand or the services you offer. The more relevant the search is, the easier it will be for new people to find you.

A Physician Recording a YouTube Video

Tip #3: Make your videos shareable. The better your video content and quality, the more your viewers will want to share them with friends and family. 

The more “shares” you get, the more Google understands that you produce valuable content for your target audience. This causes Google to reward you and rank your channel higher.

Tip #4: Give your audience more ways to absorb the content you’re creating. While talking heads (one person talking to the camera) can be popular, including other forms of displaying information can be very helpful. Include text, video illustrations, and audio cues to keep your viewers’ interest longer.

I started the EntreMD Business School to help physicians become thriving entrepreneurs who make money, have an impact, and have time for the things that matter. Watch an episode of my podcast where I’m giving you a rundown of the EntreMD Business School with 5 Signs the EntreMD Business School is Perfect for You.