Inside Dentistry
February 2013
Volume 9, Issue 2

Using YouTube™ to Grow Your Practice—5 Steps for Success

Effective ways to leverage video marketing to grow your practice, retain existing patients, attract new patients, and improve your online reputation.

By Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA; and Boris Kurbanov

Everyone knows that Google® is the top search engine on the Internet, but do you know the second most popular search engine? Most people think it is Bing™ or Yahoo!®, but in reality YouTube™ is used more often for searches than Yahoo! or Bing, according to a June 2011 study by Socialnomics.

Your patients may not be uploading their own videos yet, but they are logging in to watch videos:

• Every minute, 72 hours of video are being uploaded on YouTube.
• Every day, more than 4 billion videos are being viewed on YouTube.
• 71% of Americans use video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo™ (a 66% increase from a year earlier in a 2011 Pew Internet poll).

Why not take advantage of this opportunity by creating videos that promote your practice? Remember, YouTube is designed to accommodate low-tech videos. A professionally produced video is not necessary to draw attention and views.

To leverage this new digital communication, make sure to establish a practice-branded channel that connects to your entire social media network (eg, your website, mobile site, blog, Facebook®, and Google+®).

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

There are so many great choices when it comes to filming a practice video. The first step is choosing a topic. While patient video testimonials are a great way to attract new patients, there are several other options to choose from when picking up that camera or smartphone.

Treatment Completion Video

Showcase a brand new smile by taping an interview with your patient the day his or her treatment is completed—for example, cosmetic restorative work, in-office whitening, or orthodontic treatment. Videotape your patient’s satisfaction with the outcome, upload the video across your social networks, and invite your patient to share the video on his or her social networks so family and friends can tune in as well. For someone looking for a new dentist or orthodontist, a treatment completion video can be just as effective as a written patient review.

Doctor Video

You are the expert. Choose an oral health topic or treatment you’re passionate about—one that is of interest to consumers online—and take 1 to 3 minutes to explain it in everyday terms. For instance, you may choose to produce a short video about dental sports injuries, healthy oral care maintenance, or adult orthodontics. The video should position you as the expert, share with the viewers why the topic is important, and invite them to visit your office for a personal consultation.

Demonstration Video

What better way to show your work than to demonstrate it? Put a prospective patient at ease by filming a short video of you or one of your hygienists working on a patient. From showing how to properly floss teeth to demonstrating how clear aligners are put on, the options are endless. Be mindful to select less-invasive procedures that would not cause undue stress on a viewer.

A “Day in the Life” or “Welcome” Video

A short video that allows your prospective patients to get to know you and your staff before they walk through the door is invaluable. Designate a treatment coordinator or your office manager as the host, and have him or her demonstrate the experience of an initial patient visit. Be creative and film everything from talking about their treatment, to familiarizing them with your office, to introducing your team members and their respective roles. People generally enjoy a “behind the scenes” video, and this introduction will make prospective patients more comfortable with your practice and reduce undue anxiety regarding their initial visit.

Patient Contest Video

Showcasing patients having fun with the doctor and staff will help prospective patients relax about upcoming treatment. In addition, your patients will enjoy getting involved and feeling like they are part of your dental community. Invite your patients to participate in a month-long or summer-long contest to stop by your office and share on camera what they enjoy most about their treatment. Reward them with a gift card or other small prizes and watch their loyalty grow.

Whichever video topic you select, think through the script and the questions you want to ask the patient and/or staff members who will participate in the video. Now that you have an idea for a video, it is time to think about the equipment needed for turning your idea into reality.

Step 2: Choose the Camera

So, which camera should you use for creating high-quality online videos? While you can certainly purchase a high-end, professional camera, it isn’t essential for creating great-looking videos for your practice.

Most modern smartphones and flip cameras are of sufficient quality to produce many types of videos. If you or a team member owns a smartphone or flip camera, you can easily capture videos and upload them straight to your practice’s social networks. Another option is the video mode on a point-and-shoot camera or a handheld camcorder. Newer versions of these devices often are able to shoot high-definition video and high-quality audio. Make certain the device of your choice has editing capability, so you can ensure the final video is entirely to your satisfaction.

The bottom line is that you do not need a professional grade, expensive camera to produce an effective practice video for YouTube or other social medial channels.

Step 3: Choose the Setting

Generally, your office can serve as a wonderful background to familiarize people with your practice. Find a spot in the reception area or in the consultation room that will allow you to capture the feel and decor of your office. Taking your photo shoot outdoors is also an option, but be sure to test the audio and video quality of your outdoor setting first. If you have children participating, remember to get down to their level, as the resulting video will be a lot more effective coming from their perspective. Of course, video the background first to check that it is orderly and it projects the image you wish to communicate.


Keep your videos short, typically anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes in length. Anything longer than 3 minutes will cause your viewers to tune out.

Getting Permission

Whenever you are featuring patients online—whether through before-and-after photos, a YouTube video, or a Facebook post—you should always get written permission from the patient or his or her legal guardian beforehand. Be sure to request permission before you capture any video of the patient and keep the signed documents in the patient’s file.

Step 4: Edit Your Video

Depending on the type of video you are shooting, you may find it valuable to spend some time editing. It is important that your video have an authentic feel to it, while representing your practice and brand. For example, if you’ve captured different video sequences at different times, you’ll want to use editing software on your computer or the camera itself to combine the segments.

It can be tempting to spend a lot of time editing, but in reality many of your videos may need minimal editing. Just make sure the final product communicates your topic clearly and reflects well on you, your patients, and the practice.

Part 5: Sharing Your Video with the World

Finally, the fun part—uploading your video to YouTube and sharing it with your current and prospective patients.

Filling out the Details

YouTube allows you to share a few details about the video. First, develop a short, descriptive title that explains the video. Then, write a brief description that includes a link back to your website if the viewer has questions. Finally, pick a category and add a few tags that explain the video (eg, patient testimonials, office tour, dental tips). Completing this information as fully as possible helps the viewer learn more, while enabling YouTube and other search engines to find your video.

Sharing Your Video

Once your video has been uploaded to YouTube, you will be able to watch it online and share it with others. Use the “Share” button that appears below your video to post it to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, or even send it through email. Each time you create a new video, be sure to share the link to the video on your practice’s Facebook page and other social networks. You can even add the video player to your practice website, so patients can view your videos there. By optimizing the exposures your videos receive, you can, just as importantly, drive traffic to your website and social media outlets, and enhance your search engine optimization.

Check for Feedback

One of the best features of video-sharing sites such as YouTube is the ability for viewers to provide feedback or ask questions. Designate someone on your team to watch for comments on your videos and other social networks, and respond to them in a timely fashion. Remember, a viewer commenting on one of your videos could be a prospective patient. If you prefer not to receive comments or ratings on your videos, you may disable these features—simply visit the settings area of your YouTube account to do so.

Final Thoughts

YouTube is one of the top five most trafficked sites in the world, and therefore is a great place to engage with your patients and community. The added benefit is that the costs of executing an effective online video campaign are negligible. While your videos might not get 50,000 views or go viral, your well-branded YouTube channel is an important asset to your practice—one that helps you and your staff to connect authentically with patients. Your YouTube presence may encourage that prospective patient to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment.

About the Authors

Diana P Friedman, MA, MBA | Ms. Friedman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Communications located in Seattle, Washington.

Boris Kurbanov | Mr. Kurbanov is Content Manager at Sesame Communications located in Seattle, Washington.

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