When doctors go viral on Instagram, YouTube, Marketing & Advertising News, AND BrandEquity


It was 2015 that the world woke up to the “hot doc”, as Buzzfeed US dubbed New York-based family physician Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, after a series of photos of him and his pet husky was sent to his massive Instagram following (currently at 4.4 million). Popularly known as Doctor Mike, the easy-going doc has become an internet sensation. Later that year, People magazine called him the “sexiest doctor” in its annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. Dr. Mike on his website states that he wants to “make the field of medicine accessible, understandable and fun”. That’s why he regularly posts to his nine-million-person YouTube channel about everything from a daily vlog to reacting to TikToks to interviews with
Doctor Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Mike is part of a new generation of doctors and medical professionals who have built online followings on platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

India is not immune to this phenomenon either. There’s Dr Tanaya Narendra aka @dr_cuterus, dermatologist Dr Rashmi Shetty, neurologist Dr Siddharth Warrier, and orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr Manan Vora – to name a few – whose content to munch on breaks down concepts around medicine and the human body for the layman.

Doctors on demand
It was a gap waiting to be filled. Kalyan Kumar, CEO and co-founder of Social Catalyzers, a digital content marketing agency, says the surge of “wellness experts” on social media is due to the pandemic, “as every brand wanted a layer of credibility on its claims and the market was lapping up any promise of immunity, so any key opinion leader who talked about health and wellness or the most serious medical specialists were wanted.

Kumar shares that using a global influencer AI tool, they analyzed that on Instagram, there are almost 10,000+ profiles with “Doctor” mentioned in the bio, with a range of five million followers. . Kumar notes that there are different qualities in the health and wellness space. “Many health and fitness influencers have always worked with brands. Doctors are different because they are supposed to be more serious,” he adds.

The seriousness and credibility that real doctors bring to the murky space of social media wellness is needed.

Dr Manan Vora, who uses the hashtag #TheSportsOrtho, says the pandemic has created a demand for doctors to come to social media to “give their opinion, lend their voice and share their expertise”. He adds that content consumption has increased dramatically and everyone is focusing on health.

The intersection of bioethics and social media is a gray area, but Vora suggests a remedy: “Physicians and healthcare workers from different fields should come to social media and contribute their expertise. But this should take the form of education and awareness, not consultations or solution-based treatment – ​​this is where things can go wrong.

The latest draft regulations from the National Medical Commission on Ethics and Medical Registration Board (NMC-EMRB) contain a set of rules on how doctors and healthcare professionals must “behave” on the networks social. The key principles are: “(1) The broader principle of medical ethics should guide the use of social media by registered medical practitioners (RMP); (2) PMPs should distinguish between telemedicine consultation and social media; and (3) All written and visual communications must be truthful, respectful and professional. »

The proposed rules will also prohibit doctors from directly or indirectly buying social media ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ or paying money so that search algorithms lead to their names being listed in top of search queries.

Kumar says one of the main reasons the health and wellness social space has opened up to influencers is because “doctors have stricter professional ethics that they’re expected to uphold.”

Still, nothing beats the advice of a legitimate doctor, says Surojit Ghorai, brand manager of Kolkata-based mainstream lifestyle company Agaro Lifestyle, which works with numerous docfluencers. “There’s an explosion of content,” says Ghorai. “Searching for authentic content in this universe is definitely a challenge. When we see something that is endorsed or offered by an expert in its field, we tend to absorb it instantly.

Content Machines
Creating content – as any influencer will tell you – isn’t easy. Add to that a full-time job as a doctor. Vora admits there is obviously overwork. Gynecologist and fertility expert Dr Yuvraj Jadeja believes that being a full-time influencer is more difficult for specialists, adding that social media demands are a bit unfair. “Legitimate content doesn’t get its due. Sometimes you have to use trending music and the algorithm is punitive when it comes to knowing who’s being viewed,” he says.

For Jadeja, the only image that works for a doctor on social media is one that “raises awareness and pushes society towards better health”. Building and managing online brand awareness takes skill and nurturing to a degree that most people underestimate.

In addition to complying with the algorithm, you must be funny without appearing grumpy, while following a strict code of ethics. Psychiatrist Dr Rashi Agarwal, who has built his personal brand one reel at a time, believes it’s important for doctors to be on social media. “With increasing competition, having a social media brand gives you an edge over others. It can give you reach beyond your day job and also get you recognized for your other talents besides medicine,” she says.

The traps
Agarwal says that depending on where you work, “there [having a social media brand] can go both ways – give you an advantage or be a liability. Also, there is a blurring of boundaries in professional and personal life as people think they have access to you.

Vora thinks courting social media isn’t for everyone. “Creating a digital presence and brand on social media is extremely important. It’s not like anyone has to do it, but for those who do it and are able to do it, the kind of doors it opens for you, the reach you get across the country, it’s phenomenal “, he adds.

Jadeja shares that his patients communicate better with him because they have seen his videos. Most importantly, he thinks social media has helped shatter the image of doctors. “People now realize that doctors can be, just to put it in a very colloquial way, ‘cool’.”


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