a creative agency that takes care of healthcare brands
Jacinta Manivong
13 May, 2022

If you’re ‘extremely online’ (like me), you may have noticed that quite a lot of healthcare professionals have built up a significant following on social media.

There are two reasons why this makes complete sense. The first is that people naturally tend to become attentive listeners when it comes to their health, and the second is that they are increasingly seeking medical advice online.

Accordingly, healthcare professionals are bringing their expertise to just about every social media platform you can think of. And if there’s one platform that defines the zeitgeist, it’s TikTok.

Globally, TikTok has amassed almost 700 million monthly active users – and there’s no sign of it slowing down. It has now surpassed Instagram, a milestone that would have been practically unthinkable even a year ago.

So why does TikTok have so many people in its grip?

Well, for one it’s not so much a place to connect with friends as to follow interesting people. Just as importantly, it’s built to give you the confidence to become a content creator yourself. Forget the video editing training you need to be credible on YouTube or the money pit necessary for ‘instaworthy’ shots – the beauty of TikTok is that it’s accessible and fun because anything (authentic) goes. And the primary (though by no means only) demographic is Gen Z, who are influential in their own right and can therefore amplify your messages.

With that in mind, there’s enormous potential for healthcare professionals and brands to jump onboard. And there’s a sound marketing rationale for doing so.

People get on TikTok to be entertained and to learn, a combination that makes it the perfect setting for persuasive communication. Sure, a single view of your TikTok video probably won’t convince someone to sign up for a course or book a consultation on the spot, but that’s equally the case with Instagram (or indeed any medium beyond direct response). And once they are converted, they can shop, book an appointment or sign up to your newsletter without ever having to leave the app.

As with any social media platform, it takes time to establish your audience. So start now, build your profile, and learn more about your consumers. In time, you will reap the rewards – and it may happen more quickly than you think. Serendipitous discovery is a key feature of TikTok.

So, here’s our advice on how to approach TikTok.

1. Know your local guidelines

These days, there is an increasing amount of content being posted on social media by healthcare professionals. However, depending on where you practice, not all the different types of posts you come across may be permissible in your country of practice. National and international guidance varies considerably in terms of what kinds of content healthcare professionals are allowed to post. All content produced and posted by Australian practitioners must adhere to local guidelines for advertising therapeutic goods and regulated health services (e.g. The Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code and AHPRA’s (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) guidelines for advertising a regulated health service). Further, where appropriate, posts must include relevant disclaimers before being posted on TikTok or other social platforms. AHPRA takes a very broad view of what kinds of content constitute ‘advertising’ – website and social media content are both considered forms of advertising and thus, must comply with AHPRA’s guidelines. For more information on AHPRA’s guidelines, see this previous post. You can also view AHPRA’s most recent social media policy here.

2. Educate the youth

TikTok is an ideal platform for educating young people in an informal setting, so make sure your content is relatable to a youth audience. That’s easier said than done, of course, so why not engage younger doctors and nurses to create content with you on the issues that matter to them the most (e.g. mental health, STDs, drug and alcohol use, early pregnancy, wellness checks)? The key here is to be relatable while also remaining professional, as this will help build credibility and trust.

@dr.noc What should I measure next? Sugars/carbs in general are no problem! However, lots of ADDED sugars in drinks should be only an occasional choice. #health #soda ♬ Sneaky Snitch – Kevin MacLeod

@doctoryoun #stitch with @chocolatecandle26 The no🧢 truth about vaping! #vape #vaping #vaper #vapersontiktok ♬ original sound – Anthony Youn, MD

3. Clear up myths

We all know that the internet is the wild west when it comes to accurate information, which means there is a huge role for credible sources that can correct the misinformation floating around. So this is your opportunity to address the myths most relevant to your practice or brand. Responding to another user’s video (by ‘stitching’) is a TikTok feature commonly used for duets, reactions or responses. You could use it to tackle false claims, clear up misconceptions and become a trusted voice.

@britishredcross Caught #covid more than once? 😩 watch this #relatable #staysafe ♬ original sound – Ty-Crain

@208skindoc #stitch with @tuutoe it just takes a little thinking. #sunscreen #skincancer #spf #dermatologist #208skindoc ♬ Oh No – Kreepa

4. Explain it like I’m 5

They say there’s no such thing as a silly question – and it’s certainly true that assuming too much knowledge of your audience can be counterproductive. TikTok is an opportunity to communicate in an easily understandable, non-threatening or even colloquial way. And while you’re playing with the ‘accessible’ nature of the format, why not experiment with the timing of your video, use props to help explain, add humour, or make it relatable to a trending topic?

@medexplained2you It’s not what you think! #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #doctor #medical #medicaltiktok #pa #nurse #np #medicine #sayahh ♬ just like magic – Ariana Grande

@drjenniferlincoln Not the same as it was. And that’s ok! #asitwas #postpartum #obgyn #newbaby #bodypositivity ♬ As It Was – Harry Styles

TikTok might not be the first channel you think of when it comes to healthcare communications, but there are clear opportunities for practitioners and brands alike. Plus, it’s not going away any time soon, so get on to it now. Tick tock!

Jacinta Manivong, Social Media Manager at Wellmark. Connect with me on LinkedIn