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With nearly 770,000 YouTube channel subscribers, 761,000 Instagram followers and 376,000 Facebook FB -0.40% likes Dr. Sandra Lee's social media brand, Dr. Pimple Popper, has high visibility.
For those who are unfamiliar with the @DrPimplePopper accounts, Dr. Lee, a dermatologist, records and uploads videos of herself removing whiteheads, blackheads and cysts from her patients' skin.
I spoke to Dr. Lee about her brand and how she's monetized her social media presence in the obscure 'popping' market:
Have you noticeably gotten more business from new patients who come because of your social media brand?
SL: Yes, definitely.
For example, I’ve done some TV stuff for the last five years and some of the shows will go all around the world, and certainly all around the country. I don't get approached for those appearances.
I get approached for Dr. Pimple Popper all the time. It’s crazy. ‘Popping’ is a phenomenon that has hit younger generations, and that generation is the one that's out there. I just think the exposure from social media is stratospheric in comparison to your exposure on a TV talk show, it’s like way more. It’s amazing.
But, yes. I’ve had people come from London, and I’ve had people come from Saudi Arabia and from across the country. People have come from Canada for their cysts.
Have you found a way to monetize your videos?
SL: Yes, that's why I do my YouTube channel. You can monetize your videos and it’s sort of win-win-win situation. It’s good for my patients that have blackheads, because insurance doesn't cover the removal. So, many dermatologists we won’t remove them, they say, “You have a blackhead there but don't worry about it.” But now, I’ll do the extractions for free if my patients let me videotape and use the video. Of course, I make them anonymous and remove anything identifying.
Literally, they all say yes. A lot of these people really want these things to be removed. They’re benign and they’re not anything that needs to be removed medically, which is why insurance won’t pay. So my patients win, because they get the blackheads removed for free.
I win, because I get to take it out and put the video on YouTube. At least I get some sort of payment for that, as opposed to me doing it totally for free.
And all of these people who love popping videos win because they get to watch it on YouTube. There’s some kind of obsessive quality, because when you watch it sucks you in. I don't exactly know what it is either, but you do get addicted to it. I see that all the time. People say, “This is so gross yet oddly satisfying. This is so nasty that I cant stop watching.”
Have you had any issues with your YouTube platform?
SL: There’s a fine line you have to walk with YouTube. Most YouTube channels are for entertainment, and I’m doing mine for education. But, if you’re doing something like these popping videos for entertainment they might be taken off. It has to be medically educational. That's mostly been helpful for me me because I am an educator and dermatologist.
I think I might be starting something new on YouTube where it’s going to become more acceptable to have content like this. I think I might be becoming one of the pioneers, so to speak, of this. In the past, some of my videos were just taken off. They were considered ‘gory, disgusting and for shock value.’
I fought back. I was like, “That’s not what this is. I’m a dermatologist. This is what I do.” I’m not doing this for shock value. Honestly, it was insulting that they leave videos on of people getting shot or even porn and they would take my content down.