Have you ever seen the Netflix show, Stranger Things? Great piece of work. Quick summary of the show: There’s some sort of other-worldly force that is slowly creeping into a small town. It has started plowing out these looming underground tunnels and networks, and sending snarling minions of evil to take help overtake our own world through a flipped reality called the “Upside Down”. It’s spooky and eerie and awesome.
But, I have some terrible news…the “Upside Down” is no longer an element of fiction.
If you’ve spent any time on YouTube lately, you’ll have probably noticed the slow, inevitable creep of what have been termed “YouTube influencers” or “YouTubers”.
Who are these YouTube Influencers, and why are they a threat to your practice?
These Influencers are mostly young people who relay their opinions and experiences through episodic videos with varying degrees of frequency. They often don’t have formal education on the topics about which they are commenting. They simply know how to get and keep attention.
The successful ones have figured out how to capture and keep the eyeballs of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of viewers with every episode. They do this through “clickbait”-fueled video titles and thumbnails (the image you see that gets you to click on and view the video). Then, they get you to click the button and Subscribe to their channel so they can keep sending you videos. Once you’re subscribed, you receive a Push notification every time that content creator releases a new video.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of these videos where these folks are sharing their experiences when it comes to accepting dental treatment, and then complaining about what went wrong.
For example, a user named “Evelina” published a video with the title “My Horrific Experience With Veneers | The Truth”. The thumbnail shows a picture of “Evelina”, an attractive blonde woman, crying. Through the video, she shares her personal story and appeals to viewers on an emotional level. It’s personal and anecdotal; closer to having coffee with a close friend, versus listening to a skilled and trained professional advisor. And in today’s world, those two very different forces sometimes have the same impact on a viewer.
As of this writing, Evelina’s “Veneers” video has gotten nearly 400,000 views.
Why do they do it?
So, what is the motivation behind “Evelina” and other Influencers making these videos?
Well, why does anyone do anything?
YouTube relies on advertising revenue to make money. And to compensate those creating their content, they’ve implemented a profit-sharing model with those who upload and publicize their videos.
So, the top Influencers have cracked the code on how to get viewers to spend more time and views on their videos, and therefore, make more money as a result. Their motives are self-fulfilling. They’re not interested in sharing true best practices. They don’t want to educate viewers about root canals or perio disease. They simply want to make money by getting views on their video and be in the spotlight.
Like a thick fog that slowly rolls in under cover of darkness, you may not have even noticed these people and their videos. But they are no longer just a novelty. Simply put, they have been laying a foundation to influence your patients’ opinions. And you could be losing serious revenue and patient trust as a result.
“…they have been laying a foundation to influence your patients’ opinions. And you could be losing serious revenue and patient trust as a result.”
What can I do about it?
As an American and an advocate of Freedom of Speech on the Internet…honestly, I don’t believe there’s anything inherently wrong with people expressing their views or sharing their experiences on YouTube. It’s their right to do it, and to make money from it. They might not have the schooling or good intentions that you do, and frankly…that’s somewhat irrelevant.
What IS important, and the real problem, is that THEY are controlling the narrative when it comes to your patients’ dental treatment. You might have years of schooling, decades of experience, and the respect of your colleagues and patients. But if you don’t know how to get and stay in front of your patients (and potential patients) as effectively as the YouTube Influencers do, you’re losing the game. And unfortunately, that game involves your livelihood and patient care.
Whereas you talk to your patients MAYBE twice a year, these people have the ability to communicate with and influence those same patients on a weekly (or better) basis via YouTube search, push notification on their smart phones, emails and text messages. That’s a lot of easy ways to communicate with people, that you simply don’t have access to. Whether they are qualified to do so or not, they have grabbed hold and aren’t letting go.
I would strongly suggest learning how to properly employ modern marketing methods, such as producing effective and engaging YouTube videos, in your practice marketing efforts. You’re losing ground to people whose only advantage is their ability to attract attention. And truthfully, it’s not that hard to do on a regular basis.
Become an expert content producer using just your iPhone or iPad
So, why not take control of what your patients are watching and provide quality content, right from your office? I guarantee you…you can do this, and it’ll only take an hour or less every week.
Here’s a quick, 4-step list on how to produce quality video content for your channel:
- Create a YouTube Channel, this will be where you direct people to subscribe to your content and “follow” you. It’s basically your own internet TV channel, specifically for your practice. This involves putting up some background photos, etc., but that’s easy to do — just post a picture of your staff or office.
- Connect with YouTube on your phone and practice uploading a video, as well as adding descriptions and tags. If you have any questions on how to do it, just Google “how to upload a YouTube video” or “how to add a description to my YouTube video”.
- Designate a spot in your office that looks good and pick a time every week to film a 2-6 minute video about topics relating to your patients.
- Upload each video to YouTube and add a description and keywords; ones that your patients might be searching for, like “are veneers right for me” or “pain free dentist in Chicago”.
While I don’t recommend you produce your videos on the same informal, personal level as a YouTube influencer, you can still come across just as friendly and engaging. Don’t worry so much about the setting, the background or even production value. Instead, work on speaking to the iPhone, iPad or camera as you would a patient in sitting in the chair. Be professional, yet still relatable and eliminate over the top clinical words that are confusing. Transparency is key.
Also, be sure to watch and reply to the comments that appear on your videos. I know dentists who have actually scored new patients through these comment threads. Ultimately, though…the purpose of them is to build rapport, increase trust and demonstrate your expertise.
In a world full of fake news, media (which now includes YouTube videos) that is deemed honest and well intentioned gets consumed and its creators considered reliable. You have the opportunity to craft and control that message, and I suggest you take advantage of this new opportunity to start an ongoing conversation with your patients. It may seem a little “Stranger” than what you’re used to. But if there’s a new world of patient acquisition concepts out there, why not learn to use them to your advantage?