YouTube: promoting your practice via video

Ever heard your patients say they use Dr Google? Or that they looked something up online? YouTube is the worldwide number two search engine. Every day, more than 100 million people watch online videos. Isn’t YouTube just for kids, teenagers and video games, I hear you ask? No. Over 66% of US internet users use YouTube and are aged between 46 and 55 (Statista 2020).


One of the most popular genres on YouTube are ‘how to’ videos, though coronavirus fact updates are probably scoring pretty highly at the moment. Whatever information your patients want, YouTube can grow your practice visibility and, unlike Facebook or Instagram, YouTube videos can continue to be effective for as long as 10 years after they’ve been put online.


What are the benefits for you?


YouTube can help increase visibility for yourself, your team, your practice and optometry in general. Perhaps you’re looking to show potential patients what your practice feels like. Perhaps you can help educate and inform them, suggesting patients view certain videos for more information on their own ocular disorder, just by sending them a link via text or email.


YouTube can also help you attract new patients. According to Dr Joseph Allen (YouTube: Doctor Eye Health), people have driven many hours out of their way to see him for an eye examination because of his YouTube profile, including one lady who drove more than 1000 miles (1609km). I’ve also experienced YoutTube users reach out via phone and email to make appointments.


YouTube can also be a creative outlet; a brainstorming session with your team that can invigorate your practice.


The keys to success on YouTube


For YouTube videos to work, they need to resonate with patients. You need to talk about things that your viewers want to hear or learn, not just things you might want to talk about. You can find topic ideas by typing in YouTube’s search box and seeing what suggestions come up. Instantly, you can find out what people want to know.


It’s also important to have a written plan for what you want to say in your video. Think about how you can educate, inspire or entertain your viewers, and not bore them. Some YouTubers like to write down every word; others prefer to talk in points, but either will keep you on track. Good, well-paced videos will ensure your viewers stick around longer and return.


How does YouTube work?


According to YouTube CEO, Neal Mohan, over 70% of viewers find your video based on YouTube’s suggested videos. To make your video attractive to YouTube, you need to get people to spend longer watching it. The more minutes they watch, the better.


How to know if it’s working?

Before you get started, think about what numbers matter most to your practice. Then build stepping stones from there. For example, you might track things like:


  • Patient appointments - add YouTube to your ‘how did you find out about us?’ form or questionnaire
  • Clicks – to your video and from YouTube to your website. Using Google Analytics, you can also measure how many phone calls or online appointments come via YouTube
  • Likes – number of YouTube likes; average video watch duration and number of video views


Damon Ezekiel from Ezekiel Eyes in Perth has standout videos on scleral lenses and hard contact lenses, with more than 2000 and 9,500 views respectively. While successful US optometrist YouTubers, Salisbury Eyecare and Eyewear and Doctor Eye Health’s top videos include: comparing Transitions Gen8 lenses with Xtractive lenses,; and facts about visual floaters,


What’s holding you back?


One of the common objections I hear is, ‘I’ll think about YouTube when I have the right gear’.


But the best thing about YouTube is that anyone can start a channel. It’s free. All you need is your smartphone.


Another objection is, ‘there are so many videos on YouTube, how can I ever stand out?’. Remember, no one else has your interests, passion or experience in eye care. If you make a video that you care about, people will give you their attention.


How to setup your channel?


  • Step 1: Login with your Google or Gmail account
  • Step 2: Create a free YouTube business account
  • Step 3: Add your details (logo, channel description etc.)
  • Step 4: Publish your first video


Your first video can be live on YouTube within minutes. It’s a great feeling!


Share your video with your patients within the first 24 hours of it going live. The best way to do this is with email. Check out my recommendation for doing this on my blog, You can also share your video on your social media channels, such as Facebook, Messenger, Linkedin and Instagram Direct Messages.


Some more advanced tips


  • Avoid scheduling your YouTube videos. For best results, it’s important the YouTube AI software (or algorithm) starts showing your video as soon as it goes live, so it’s best to upload and publish directly
  • Add captions to your videos. You can type them out yourself, but it takes patience. My preferred option is to use a service like, which is just US$1.10/min of video, so a five-minute video would cost around NZ$9, leaving your time better spent seeing patients or planning your next video
  • Include a call-to-action. It’s true, potential patients won’t do anything unless you suggest it. Make sure you let them know that they can click on the link in the description to book an appointment. You’ll significantly increase your chances of booking new patients


There’s a good chance your patients have been searching on YouTube for information this week. Don’t let them find it from Dr Google; let them hear it from you.


This is the first in a series of two articles on YouTube.


Leigh Plowman is an optometrist and optometry marketing specialist who is passionate about helping independent optometrists create online strategies and getting more patients online,


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