Video content is having a moment, and is attracting more and more users, who turn to TikTok, YouTube, Instagram & Co to meet their entertainment and information needs. In the UK alone 92% of adults or 49M people above age 15 access YouTube each month. And watch times are on the rise as well: Today adults aged 18-34 spend an average of 70 minutes on the platform every day, which is 20% more than in 2017.
In 2021 YouTube saw 2 billion health condition video views in the UK alone (110 billion globally). 180.000 health videos in the UK (9.5 million) globally were uploaded. Clearly health content is getting views, but only a minority of it is created by medical experts. What this means is that there is a huge opportunity for those with credentials, the companies and institutions they collaborate with to stand out, and make sure the YouTube audience has access to high-quality, evidence-based information.
Big opportunity? Yes. But is YouTube easy? No, like almost anything worth doing it is not. Unlike TikTok, where virality is comparatively easy to achieve, YouTube is more of a “slow-burner”. It’s unlikely that those starting out as healthcare content creators on the platform will find overnight success, but for those with the goal to create long-term impact, YouTube could very well be the place to be.
It can take creators months or even years to get big on YouTube sometimes. An advantage, however, especially for those creating healthcare education videos is that content on YouTube “never dies”: Some videos created years ago are still getting views and generating returns today. Many healthcare content creators eventually also build up engaged audiences, which increases their reach and unlocks new opportunities for impact and financial returns both on and off platform.
What Kind of Content Should You Create For YouTube?
No matter how long you’ve been on YouTube, whether you’re just starting out or already have a sizeable audience, you will probably wonder at some point what kind of content your should create to maximize your impact and success on the platform. Below are a couple of tips and best practices recently shared by the folks at YouTube Health that can help medical experts, healthcare organizations, and their teams grow on YouTube in 2023 and beyond.
1. Put the Audience First
YouTube’s recommendation system is designed to help viewers find relevant videos to watch and to maximize for long term viewer satisfaction. Ask yourself what your audience really wants to watch, and how you can best serve them with your videos. What’s the overlap between the content you can and want to create, and the content your audience wants to see from you?
For most YouTube channels “Home” and “Recommended” are the biggest traffic sources. This is different for health content, where “YouTube Search” currently brings in most views. People are usually looking for content about UTIs or breast cancer, not because they have an ongoing interest in these topics, but because they have an immediate information need about a specific condition or health challenge. Although highly relevant, these kinds of videos may not be suggested on the YouTube Home page, which means users will likely be using search.
In order to capture search traffic with your videos, using easily understandable titles and impactful thumbnails that stand out is crucial. Keep in mind: 50% of viewers watch videos on mobile, so titles should be under 70 characters, and thumbnails should pop even on small screens.
2. Define Your Goal
Different health content creators may have different goals. Keep this in mind, when planning content. Do you want to promote and grow your practice or company? Or are you hoping to reach a large group of people with your information and guidance? Are you looking to grow your brand and generate income on-platform or off-platform? Think about who your ideal viewer is, and what action you want them to take after watching your video.
Knowing your goal can help you decide what kind of content you want to create. Do you want to share general knowledge, entertain, or share your perspective on current events? Answering these questions ideally before you start your journey on YouTube is crucial for your success as the platform is all about bringing a unique point of view to your audience. Consistency in your message key.
3. Understand Trends
Whether or not your video does well on Youtube can sometimes be influenced by external factors, so it’s helpful to understand those and create videos accordingly. Some topics in the healthcare space are more general and relevant to larger audiences (e.g. fitness, nutrition, diabetes, menstruation), others are more niche (e.g. cervical cancer, lymphedema). While niche topics may not be relevant to as many people, there may be less content on the platform about them, which is an advantage for you as a content creator as your video will have less competition. Understanding trends and the potential of certain topics can help you set realistic expectations. Your goal can inform your content strategy.
Seasonality is also something to consider in the healthcare niche, as content about flu for example will do better during flu season, while content about treating sunburn will likely peak during the summer.
A handy tool available to everyone is ‘YouTube Trends’, which can help content creators identify trending topics worth making videos about. Your ‘YouTube Studio’ also has a Research Tab, which shows high volume search queries and insights into what people are searching for. Once a channel has enough views another feature in YouTube Studio called User Searches unlocks, which helps you understand what your existing viewers are searching for. This can help you identify content gaps, you might want to address with future videos.
4. Experiment with Different Content Formats
To keep your audience engaged and attract new viewers, consider experimenting with different content formats. If you are new to YouTube as a healthcare content creator Shorts may be a great place to start. Creating Shorts is a good way to test different ideas, see what your audience enjoys, and then create long-form content based on their preferences.
Once you’ve decided on the direction of your channel as a healthcare content creator try to think about what sort of help content you can create based on your expertise. Series (e.g. exercise videos) are also a great way to keep your audience coming back to your channel. Somewhat more difficult to product, but very effective when it comes to channel growth: Collabs with other creators or public figures.
5. Be Yourself
Authenticity is what makes health condition-based YouTube content and its creators stand out. Remember that it’s not just about your medical competence, but also about authenticity, connection, and a distinct content style that makes you, your content and channel unique.
If you are part of an organization that is looking to grow on YouTube, try to have the same individuals on your channel. It will be easier for your audience to build trust. Also think about the environment you’re creating in (clinic vs. home), and the stories you’re telling. Finding the right balance between professionalism and authenticity can indeed be a challenge, but relatability is important if you are hoping to reach and relate to a broad audience of viewers.
Also remember that some of your viewers may be watching your videos because they or a loved one are experiencing health issues. Your empathy matters – in clinical practice and on YouTube as well.