Digital marketing experts say it’ll be all about video in years to come—so should vets be starting a YouTube channel? Rachel Smith reports
If you go to YouTube and search for ‘vets’, there’s no shortage of experts explaining how to remove a tick from Fluffy’s paw or what to feed your beloved pooch. But is this platform being ignored by a lot of vets? Could it provide good ROI? And is there a right way and a wrong way to start a YouTube channel? Experts say yes.
Digital marketer Darren Hobbs from Vet Web Marketing in Melbourne agrees that businesses are yet to really tap into the potential of YouTube (and to a lesser degree, Facebook and Instagram Live)—but in his opinion, they should be.
“Those platforms are programmed to be more biased to these videos and therefore make it a lot easier for viewers to find,” he explains. “YouTube, in particular, can provide a lot of value to a veterinary clinic and should be part of a cohesive social media marketing strategy if you’re looking to expand your customer base and increase your revenue.”
In the age of Google, your online presence is everything. According to the Sensis Yellow Social Media 2018 report, 64 per cent of consumers will be more likely to trust you and your brand if you interact with consumers in a positive way on social media. And considering only five per cent of small and 11 per cent of medium businesses report using YouTube as a business tool, it could be time to get you and your business ahead of the curve.
YouTube is defined as a ‘long-form media platform’, explains Hobbs. “Compared to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, YouTube’s advantage is allowing businesses to engage with customers for a longer period of time.”
People love video, too, adds veterinarian Dr Claire Stevens who has dabbled with both YouTube and Instagram videos. “It’s been revolutionary when it comes to content marketing and now we all have smartphones, it’s easy and accessible to all of us. There’s definitely a market out there for vets; it definitely increases traffic and I think people google my name after watching my videos or finding my Instagram page.”
What should you share?
According to research released by Google in 2015, searches for ‘how to’ videos on YouTube grow by 70 per cent every year—and 91 per cent of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas and advice when doing a given task. For vets, the key is creating a video content strategy around educational how-to videos on everything from grooming and hygiene to general pet upkeep.
“YouTube, in particular, can provide a lot of value to a veterinary clinic and should be part of a cohesive social media marketing strategy.”—Darren Hobbs, digital marketer, Vet Web Marketing
Raising awareness and helping pet owners improve the wellbeing of their pets is the strategy behind vet Peter Higgins’ YouTube channel. “I do work at Sydney Uni and in private practice but for me, YouTube is a stand-alone venture,” he explains.
“I want my channel to be on pet care and an educational and community service about things like removing ticks, items around the house that are dangerous for cats and dogs and other animals. It’s aimed at building my profile and that of vets in general.”
Dr Stevens agrees—and warns against sharing content that might come across as unprofessional or downright unpleasant: think vet students posing with cow placentas, vets grinning next to an anaesthetised cat, or videoing surgeries.
“That’s not to say you can’t document the behind-the-scenes vet world—some vets do it really well and are good storytellers and if there’s a happy ending, that’s great. But I avoid filming medical procedures such as when a patient is being intubated, catheterised or is under anaesthetic. I’d hate for a complication to arise and know a nurse was filming when they could’ve been doing something more important.”
Where’s the value?
Posting regular YouTube videos definitely raises the profile of the practice and helps potential customers start building a relationship with the vets—before they’ve even set foot in the door or phoned for an appointment, says Hobbs.
“It’s hard to quantify and measure off just one media platform, but businesses that put in time to create video content and use that content to advertise correctly will eventually see a monetary return—whether that’s due to new customers or previous customers coming back more often,” he explains.
Hobbs also says offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business offers a sense of transparency, which customers love. “It’s immensely valuable and hard to find an advertising medium that’s not online, that can provide the same results so easily and inexpensively.”
Tips on taking good videos
Ideally, you need to have interesting, video-worthy content to share—and no, you don’t need to hire a camera crew or buy expensive equipment. Your smartphone is fine, and videos taken with it can make you more relatable, says Darren Hobbs.
- Keep it steady. Use a tripod or selfie-stick tripod that has a bluetooth remote you can pair with your phone to start and stop the video. “If your recording is jerky and all over the place, you’ll lose credibility,” says Hobbs.
- Practice makes perfect. “You have about 10 seconds to grab a viewer and YouTube is largely a personality thing so in your videos, practise being engaging and having a sense of confidence,” says Dr Peter Higgins.
- Make your video easy to find. “Ensuring that tags, names, length … and many other factors are optimised plays a large part in the quality of the upload itself and how easy it is for a typical viewer to find the video on YouTube,” says Hobbs.
- Don’t be too salesy. “I think consumers are turned off if they sense you’re doing YouTube purely for commercial reasons and not necessarily for the benefit of the person and their cat or dog,” says Dr Higgins.
- Ask owners first! “Always get written consent from the owner before posting pets and their stories on any of your socials,” says Dr Stevens.