You’ve seen the videos. Funny, dancing, lip-syncing, lots of kids—maybe your own or even your grandkids—just being cute and silly. TikTok is the shiny new thing. But should hospitals and healthcare organizations use the platform to hit marketing goals?
Short-form, user-generated TikTok videos, generally from 15 seconds to 3 minutes, engage users, particularly Gen-Z’ers, to show off their creativity. However, the video-sharing social media platform isn’t just for the young. It’s growing in popularity with older users tapping into their young-at-heart spontaneity.
Launched in 2016, TikTok now has more than 1 billion users. The latest HubSpot Social Media Trends report declares it the #1 social media trend in 2022: “TikTok will take over social media, leaving other brands to adapt.”
Before trending on TikTok, slow down and consider the pros and cons. To go viral, a video should be fun, engaging and humorous—not typically synonymous with healthcare marketing. Also, ensure that you have bandwidth for another social channel that may minimally increase brand awareness.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is the seventh largest social network, behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WeChat. It is app based and has been the most downloaded app for the past two years.
It is a US subsidiary of ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech giant. Chinese ownership and potential data breaches concern many businesses and the US government.
Aside from data security, TikTok critics complain about excessive screen time, suggestive content, negative comments and harmful challenges impacting children.
Michael Beckerman, a TikTok vice president, was among the tech giants recently grilled before a Senate Commerce subcommittee. Beckerman assured committee members that child safety tools are now in place to help parents manage screen time and monitor what young users see. But, he side-stepped data collection questions.
Who Is the Audience?
In the US, TikTok users are predominantly female (nearly 60 percent) and young with 60 percent between ages 16–24, the trendsetting Gen Z. But, the audience is aging up with Millennial and Gen X users, ages 25–44, making up another 26 percent.
TikTok’s growth parallels pandemic lockdown and quarantine when kids were bored with “nothing to do.” Then Mom has discovered the music video app. One of the fastest growing user segments is the 30-to-49-year-old female with children.
How Do You TikTok?
Step 1. Download the app and create an account.
Step 2. Or go to tiktok.com to view videos if you just want to check it out.
Step 3. Get creative.
Step 4. You can film something new or upload a video from your phone.
Step 5. Explore the video and audio editing tools; add a song, filters and effects.
Step 6. Finish up with privacy settings, hashtags and sharing the TikTok.
Step 7. Publish the video and share it on other social platforms.
Step 8. Wait for it to go viral!
Should TikTok Be Part of Healthcare Strategy?
Cleveland Clinic launched a TikTok channel in 2020 to spread public health message about COVID-19 and urge people to #MaskUp. Most of the videos are educational with interesting graphics and facts to engage viewers. There is a humorous video on how not to wear a face mask.
While Cleveland Clinic has done it right, other healthcare TikTok attempts may not be as successful. Dancing doctors, lip-syncing nurses in ICU hallways and messages that don’t align with the brand can cause quick backlash.
Define the strategy and set goals before moving forward with TikTok. Also, if you haven’t revised the company’s social media policy recently, consider employee use of the channel. Your organization can quickly lose credibility with unprofessional medical videos from employees.
Can You Use TikTok Effectively?
Changing consumer patterns demand changes in patient experience at every touchpoint. They want personalized content, faster service and better experiences.
Consider ways TikTok can be effective in the Age of the Consumer.
- Educational content and tutorials. Consumers want short, fun, snack-able information. Break down robotic surgery, stroke symptoms, even basic procedures such as a colonoscopy.
- Clear up misinformation. Bust the myths of trending health misinformation.
- Engage younger doctors to engage teens. Use physicians who are already active on social media to talk about dangers of vaping, STD risks and mental health concerns.
- Wellness checks for women and men. Get creative with preventive health screenings for different age groups.
- Challenges—Use TikTok challenges for New Year’s weight loss and fitness resolutions, or runs/walks and other fundraising activities.
- Safety tips—Remind your audience how to avoid the ER with safety tips about frying turkeys, electric knives, fireworks and sunscreen. Address viral dangers such as the infamous milk crate challenge.
- Resumes—#TikTokResumes gives you a new recruitment tool that allows users to post resumes and apply for jobs directly through the app; the highest conversion is the 25–34 age group.
- Advertising—Run in-feed ads or create branded hashtags in TikTok for Business.
If you decide that TikTok can effectively increase awareness and relevance of your healthcare brand, engage your audience by:
- Showing a different side of organization;
- Adding humor.