The world of healthcare is all about people. From patients and their families to the nurses, physicians, and specialists that care for them, people make the whole thing go. And wherever people are the foundation, good storytelling is sure to follow.
At least it should. This is why video and healthcare marketing go hand in hand: video is the perfect medium for storytelling, which makes for engaging and enjoyable marketing content with lots of different practical applications.
As it turns out, it’s a great time for healthcare marketers to shore up their investments in video. Here are a few recent statistics that help support that claim:
- According to research from Graybo, 75 percent of US consumers currently use social media to watch video regularly.
- 60 billion U.S. users access YouTube daily, according to a report from Statista.
- Recent data from GlobalWebIndex shows that 56 percent of internet users watch videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat every month.
- We’re seeing more videos—YouTube videos, of course—at the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs). As Google tightens its grip on SERP, keeping as many people on Google channels as possible, look for the prominence of video SERPS to continue growing.
Finally, we can’t ignore the impact of COVID-19, in which screen time and video consumption, specifically, are way up. As all of these trends in video marketing indicate, the need for healthcare marketers to make better use of video is at an all-time high. Here’s how to do just that:
A good story does more than lay out a series of events in a linear fashion. That’s boring! Good stories have structure, style, and dialog. They create tension, stir emotion, and imprint on a person’s memory. Here’s Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are take on storytelling (as quoted in Brain Pickings):
Vivify, quicken, and vitalize—of these three synonyms, quicken, I think, best suggests the genuine spirit of animation, the breathing to life, the surging swing into action, that I consider an essential quality in pictures for children’s books. To quicken means, for the illustrator, the task first of deeply comprehending the nature of his text and then giving life to that comprehension in his own medium, the picture.
Sounds a lot like a well-executed video doesn’t it? Indeed, all of these trappings of storytelling translate well to the marketing world, where good storytelling can boost brand reputation, guide patient behaviors, and support broader strategic objectives.
When it comes to video storytelling, here are a few best practices to adhere to:
- Take a Closer Look at Where Your Brand’s Stories Really Come From. Patient testimonials and physician introductions are all well and good, but the real stories are often embedded in these patient-practitioner relationships. Do the work. Walk the halls and meet people to extract the stories that make your patient experience unique.
- Bring in the Core Elements of a Story. Yes, marketing videos have characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. They have a point of view and style. Put on your novelist or screenwriter cap and bring structure to the brainstorming, storyboarding, and scriptwriting phase of your next video.
- Think Microfiction, Not Novels. Shorter marketing videos tend to perform best. As you plan out your structure and story, remember that it all has to fit into a 30-60-second video. To that end, you might take cues from the masters of microfiction, who find clever ways to tell tall, expansive narratives in 500 words or fewer.
We can’t tell you how many healthcare marketing teams stare at us blankly when we ask them what videos they have already created. Often, the pickings are slim, or we hear, “there’s just not much to make videos about.” On the contrary! Here are the types of videos we recommend creating as your core content to be expanded, repurposed, and built upon as you go:
- Meet the Physician. Your physicians are at the core of your practice. Their diverse backgrounds, expertise, and life stories make for content that patients care about—especially at a time when in-person visits are limited. Yet, take “meet your physician” videos a step further by personalizing short welcome messages for patients before their appointment. That personal touch can go a long way.
- Patient Testimonials and Stories. If you’re going to put the effort into creating patient testimonials, why not put your brand’s signature on each one by doing something a little different? So many hospital testimonials look just the same. Instead, bring in multiple voices and—surprise, surprise—tell a more layered story.
- Educational. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the patient journey where the experience might be enriched by a short educational video. For the segment of patients with scheduled procedures or surgeries, you can create overviews to help answer their questions and ease their nerves. Authoritative information on preventative care, self-health best practices, and post-surgical care can also add value to the patient experience.
- Facility Tours. There’s a reason that so many people say they “hate hospitals.” This is your opportunity to bring life and personality to your facility, practice, or office. Facility tours are particularly effective in situations where patients tend to “shop around,” such as maternity wards or elective surgery centers. After all, momma wants to see the place where she’ll be delivering her child, right!?
- Community Involvement or Events. Coverage of your organization’s efforts in the community is perfect for brand-building campaigns on social media. While you can certainly send out a videographer to each event, there’s nothing wrong with gathering user-generated content as well, either from internal employees or attendees. This kind of video content is perfect for email newsletters or your organization’s Facebook Page.
You might hear this core content described elsewhere as “cornerstone” or “foundational” content.
How and when to use video content is the million-dollar question for healthcare marketers. At least, it has the potential to be! Our guidance is to keep things simple. Whether or not you’re creating personalized videos for each and every patient experience or persona, you can drop what videos you do have into targeted marketing communications to create personalized experiences.
- Email Marketing. More often than not, healthcare marketers work with highly segmented audiences. Using patient management software, they can create campaigns for, say, patients with an upcoming colonoscopy with a specific doctor. Why not send a pre-procedure email including a video in which the patient’s actual gastroenterologist gives an overview of the procedure, preparation, and answers frequently asked questions?
- Facebook and Instagram Ads. Let’s say that you’re a body sculpting clinic whose target market is men in their thirties who are conscious about their physical appearance. Using Facebook Ads, you can target this demographic with videos that build brand awareness and drive leads. That’s what CoolSculpting did with Facebook for Business. Our recommendation? Repurpose videos you already have and run a couple of pilot campaigns to see if this is a viable channel for your practice.
- Facebook Organic. Ads are one thing, and then there’s your organization’s dedicated Facebook page. This is a good place to put things like educational video, physician introductions, and testimonials into regular rotation. That way new and existing followers can see and interact with this content in their feeds.
- TV Ads. While quite expensive, television ads can be tremendous brand boosters that help attract patients. The same ads you develop for TV can also be used as YouTube Ads. When developing your advertising campaigns, focus on the channels that have proven effective for your organization.
- Provider About Me Web Pages. One of the first places that potential patients visit when evaluating a new provider is the about me page. Before booking an appointment, they want to validate credentials and assess patient-physician fit. This is prime real estate that’s perfect for an engaging video. While written bios are great, they’re not nearly as effective as heartfelt videos that tell viewers why you’re committed to delivering quality care to your patients and community.
- Service or Treatment Web Pages. We recommend to our healthcare clients that they create dedicated web pages for particular services or treatments. It’s good for the patient experience and potentially terrific for SEO/organic lead generation. It’s also a great place to include an embedded video that introduces the service or treatment in more detail. Time to dust off those storytelling chops we discussed at the beginning of the article!
We mentioned how effective pre-procedure videos can be. Here’s a great example from Northwestern Medicine, who regularly publishes to their “Inside the OR” YouTube series:
Really. There’s a common misconception that producing marketing videos is cost-prohibitive and resource-intensive. While there certainly is no limit to the amount of money one might spend on healthcare marketing videos, the barrier to entry is actually quite low. Here’s why.
- The platforms, tools, and devices people use to create videos have changed. Most people now carry a top-of-the-line camera in their back pocket every day. Between the technology itself, low-cost video production accessories, and user-friendly video production software, video marketing is more accessible than ever.
- “Minimum viable product” is sometimes all that’s needed. Your team is likely more than capable of creating engaging video content for your marketing channels. Not all videos require an expensive production team. Frankly, a group of experienced marketers can probably storyboard, shoot, edit, and publish more-than-serviceable marketing video content.
- User-generated content (UGC) abounds. People today are more active on social media than ever, and they share videos, photos, and other content for everything—including hospital visits, surgeries, procedures, and so on. Leverage your social media accounts to source and share UGC content that reflects well on your brand and helps connect to your target audience.
Of course, we don’t mean to suggest that video production teams aren’t useful or worth the money. They certainly can be, especially for big brands, with considerable marketing budgets, who plan to disseminate their video to high-cost, high-visibility campaigns. Again, how you settle the in-house vs. outsourced video production debate will depend on your own team’s specific needs.
The discussion of in-house video production vs. outsourcing to a video production team is a great underscore to this discussion of healthcare video marketing. Why? Because the most effective, cost-efficient, and exciting way to use video will depend on your particular organization.
You might find that some, all, or none of the abovementioned best practices apply. Fair enough! All we ask is that you ask yourself the most important question: how will this video add value to the patient experience? When you can confidently and clearly answer that question, the rest takes care of itself.
For more tips and best practices tailored for healthcare marketers, read our 2021 Healthcare Marketing Trends to Watch article.