As a videographer, I’ve witnessed the far-reaching effects videos can have when it comes to promoting businesses. However, due to cost constraints, many rehab therapists and practice owners feel that hiring a videographer is not within their marketing budget. Still, based on what we heard during the marketing open forum we held at the most recent Ascend conference, they are interested in creating their own videos—but are unsure how to produce high-quality, effective videos.

The good news? You don’t have to be—or hire—a videographer to leverage the power of video in your physical therapy practice. In fact, you can actually create pretty polished marketing videos using nothing more than your smartphone.

Sure, it may take some time, but it’s certainly time well spent. After all, your social media audience may be small, but it’s likely local—and it’s filled with potential patients. Posting videos on your website and social media profiles can help give people a sense of what your clinic is like and the types of results your patients experience—thus making them feel more comfortable about going there. A few examples of videos you could make include:

  • A video tour/introduction of your clinic
  • Exercise tutorials
  • Patient testimonials
  • Overviews of your clinic’s specialties (e.g, dry needling, aquatic therapy, or sports therapy)
  • Overviews of injuries you commonly treat (and how you treat them)
  • A video showcasing your company/employee culture

Now that you have a few ideas in your back pocket, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s how to bring your video vision to life:

1. Decide where your video will live.

Whether you decide to publish your video on Facebook, Instagram, or your website, it’s important to know the advantages and limitations of each platform. Be careful with blanket-posting a video across multiple social media networks, because they won’t necessarily have the same requirements for things like length and aspect ratio (for instance, your two-minute exercise tutorial will be cut off halfway through if you post it to Instagram). Here are some tips for these three platforms:

Facebook

While Facebook accepts all aspect ratios and videos up to 240 minutes long, you should still be conscious of what aspect ratio and length would be best for each individual video. Vertical videos are great for demonstrating full-body exercises, while horizontal or square aspect ratios would be better for a talking head video. When deciding on length, the general rule for social media is the shorter, the better. You only have a couple of seconds to catch someone’s attention before he or she scrolls past your video. And even when you do catch a viewer’s attention, retaining it is just as difficult. I’ve found that 60 seconds or shorter is the sweet spot.

Instagram

Facebook has more users than any other platform by far, but Instagram has a higher engagement rate—so it’s still an important place for you to build an online presence. Instagram also has a younger audience, so it will be a critical place to establish your company, build awareness, and ensure future success. Instagram accepts square and horizontal aspect ratios and limits videos to 60 seconds. (However, Instagram’s new IGTV feature supports vertical video only and allows for videos of up to 10 minutes.)

Embedded Videos on Your Website

I would highly suggest embedding videos on your company’s website. While videos posted on social media platforms can produce better engagement and more views, they unfortunately don’t live very long. Facebook and Instagram are designed to ensure users always see fresh content, so if you’ve made a great intro video for your clinic, it will need a more permanent home. Embedded videos also provide great way to build customized video libraries that your patients can easily find and reference (i.e., for exercise videos). When you post a video on social media, invite your viewers to visit your website to see more related content. Getting more eyes on your company’s website will result in more patients.

2. Up your production quality without breaking the bank.

A couple inexpensive pieces of gear can improve your production quality significantly. While smartphone cameras have vastly improved and can produce high-quality images, their microphones are still pretty unusable. An external microphone for your smartphone is inexpensive and will improve your video production value more than any other piece of gear.

Here are a few recommendations:

While many folks overlook the need for a tripod because it’s so much faster and easier to simply hold your phone in your hand, a steady shot provides a much better viewing experience than a handheld shot. This also is the best way to film yourself if you’re a one-person crew. And with so many inexpensive options, it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Here are a couple recommendations:

A great way to shorten your videos for social media is to show while you tell. For example, let’s say you’d like to record a voiceover explaining an exercise while another therapist demonstrates it. Combining the voiceover and the demonstration together will require a video editing application. Simple video edits like this can be done right on your smartphone.

Here are a couple smartphone video editing apps that I recommend:

3. Have a clear call to action.

Your top priority is to encourage engagement. Facebook has switched up its algorithm to prioritize displaying posts that have more engagement. So, create a video that would be easy and natural for your audience to interact with.

Every video should have a call to action for your followers. Your video is empty without this because it leaves little chance of a viewer becoming a patient. For example, let’s say you’ve just created a video demonstrating the correct way to lift a heavy box. At the end of the video, invite your followers to check out a back pain-related blog post on your website. Or, if you don’t have relevant content to direct them to, the call to action could be as simple as inviting them to contact your office. Then, be sure to ask new patients how they heard about you, so you can measure the success of your videos.

4. Be yourself.

Videos are a highly effective way to humanize your company. I’ve personally been drawn to companies that are transparent with their audiences. When I see that a company is filled with genuine employees who care about their clients, I feel confident in consuming their products or services.

To that end, use videos to showcase your clinic’s culture. For example, if your company does a team-building activity such as running a marathon together, put together a short vlog (a.k.a. video blog) of the event.

5. Take heed of these lightning-round quick tips.

The last step isn’t really a step. But, there are so many things to learn when you’re first starting out with video that it may seem overwhelming. So rather than provide in-depth advice that may go over your head, I put together the quickest tips I could round up so you jump-start your journey into using video like a pro:

  • Follow the rule of thirds. This is a rule that cinematographers use to compose their shots. In many cases, placing your subject on one of the thirds is more visually interesting than dead center.

  • Use the depth of your clinic as your backdrop instead of a wall.

  • White balance your iPhone camera every time you shoot any footage. This will ensure that, for example, your skin tones look like actual skin tones. To do this, place a blank piece of white paper next to your subject before you hit record. Then, hold your finger on the screen until “AE/AF” appears. Once this happens, you’re good to go.
  • Watch out for the Moire effect.
  • Remember that including a current patient in a video without his or her express permission could violate HIPAA. So, be sure to get his or her written consent.

Still have questions about video? Hit me up in the comment section below, and I’ll do my best to find you an answer.

Josh Weathers—a.k.a. Weatherman—is WebPT’s videographer. As a teenager, Josh joined his high school’s video news team in the hopes of one day living up to his nickname. While his on-screen talent fell short, he discovered his love for the other side of the camera. He went on to graduate from BYU with a film degree, and his work has been featured in The New York Times and Slate. When he’s not making video magic at WebPT, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Kara, their newborn baby Luke, and their Corgi, Sunny.