TikTok for Healthcare Brands

Darren Croucher, Associate Director, Social Media | Margaux Copp, Analyst, Social Media | Victoria Kerr, Sr. Analyst, Social Media

April 1, 2021

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A Year of Growth for TikTok

Along with the rest of the world, TikTok has had an eventful 12 months. From cranberry juice-drinking skateboarders to potential bans and buyouts, the unexpected and not unwelcome return of sea shanties, and the incredible rise of healthcare influencers, the platform grew in awareness and market penetration throughout the year. This was driven in part by the pandemic, but also by the increasing sophistication of what TikTok has to offer.

According to Sensor Tower, global downloads have now surpassed 2.5 billion, with 100M active users in the US alone. While the app initially grew in popularity as a way for teens to challenge each other with dances, TikTok’s demo has steadily evolved, with HCP and health-consumer influencers becoming significantly more prominent during the pandemic, helping TikTok become more relevant for the healthcare space than it’s ever been.

Healthcare Influencers’ Role

HCPs are leveraging the unique opportunity offered by TikTok to connect with their patient audiences to share useful information, while also humanizing doctors. These HCP influencers are some of the first to jump in on trends, while adding their own medical viewpoint to ensure the content they’re sharing stays on-brand.

In the past year, a wave of HCP influencers has emerged, sharing strong medical messages while creating content that resonates on the platform. They quickly became some of the top influencers on the platform, due to the demand  for their expertise during a hard year for most. As a result, these HCP influencers have built massive followings, leading to a huge impact. Doctors, nurses and other HCPs have become social media stars overnight, most sharing that it started out as a fun escape from reality. 

TikTok’s executives welcome HCPs on the platform, stating “It’s been inspiring to see doctors and nurses take to TikTok in their scrubs to demystify the medical profession,” said Gregory Justice, TikTok’s head of content programming. Dr. Leslie, a top HCP influencer on the platform, was rated the most impactful creator for the year of 2020, proving how important HCP voices are, especially during this time, to push for positive changes. Dr. Leslie and many others, turned to the platform in 2020 to share pandemic related content, while encouraging others to take the proper COVID-19 precautions. More specifically, Dr. Leslie’s content around vaping education led to +3 million views, allowing for a reach well beyond her hospital.

As partnering with HCPs is becoming more appealing across the social landscape, TikTok is becoming a primary platform for HCP brand partnerships.

Offerings for Advertisers

In the past year, TikTok has further refined their self-serve advertising platform, drawing close comparisons to the affordable and biddable structure of other social platforms. Advertisers can set up ad accounts and choose campaign parameters that meet their marketing goals.

Within TikTok’s campaign manager there are 3 objectives to use: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.

• Awareness: Reach

• Consideration: Traffic, App Installs, Video Views

• Conversion: Action on a website

Among these objectives: TopView, Branded Takeover and In-Feed Videos are the available placements for unbranded specific campaigns. TikTok also offers a range of first party data targeting which includes demographics, age, location and interest behavior. CRM, lookalike, re-engagement, and pixel audience targeting are also available. With the addition of Split Testing, marketers can test creative elements and adjust based on performance. Optimization is done on a CPC/CPM/CPV basis and requires a minimum budget of $50.

In October 2020, TikTok partnered with OpenSlate to address brand safety concerns and create solutions for advertisers. The results of this partnership will include the rollout of Block Lists and real-time campaign analytics. Comments and duets can be disabled for In-Feed Video units, however the share feature will remain.

Recommended Steps for Healthcare Marketers

While branded opportunities on the platform are still being explored for pharma, TikTok is actively working to become more pharma-friendly in 2021, including partnering with CMI Media Group to leverage our expertise. As we continue to monitor TikTok’s branded partnership capabilities, unbranded pharma and healthcare initiatives are already in full force, and have been executed by several pharmaceutical consumer brands.

If you’re considering a campaign on TikTok, consider these opportunities:

Engaging influencers

Nurses, NPs, and MDs are all active on the platform, using short videos to educate on a variety of topics. Some of TikTok’s most viewed content has been healthcare professionals correcting misinformation (this was a hot topic at this year’s SXSW) or sharing the basics on a particular disease state. If at least part of your target audience of patients (or caregivers) is Gen Z or Millennial, partnering with an HCP with an existing TikTok audience could be a compelling way to reach them. Even engaging with a non-HCP influencer can be a smart, targeted option for some brands. The high-budget partnership between TikTok superstar Charli D’Amelio and P&G that netted #DistanceDance made a huge splash for COVID safety measures with her audience. Leveraging an influencer that shares an audience with your brand can be a good fit.

Paid ads

So far, we’ve seen OTC brands such as Mucinex, as well as a number of unbranded campaigns, do well on TikTok by using paid ad offerings. With the right creative approach, you can put together a campaign that fits with the platform’s aesthetic.

Organic strategies

It’s still possible to cut through the noise with the right kind of organic content. Using relevant hashtags, generating must-do challenges and memes, and making sure your creative is “TikTok flavored” are all a must if you want to take this route.

CMI Media Group is working closely with TikTok to explore how these upcoming developments might best partner with our pharma and healthcare clients. As with any platform, we recommend careful consideration to ensure this platform and its tactics are right for your campaign. We will be sure to update our POV as new opportunities roll out. Please check with your CMI Media Group rep for more on how TikTok could be a part of your social media strategies.