Why healthcare brands should bet on TikTok

As the 2023 brand planning approaches, there has undoubtedly been a lot of speculation surrounding TikTok and the value it brings to the healthcare industry. As we map out plans for the coming year, this begs the question: is the health industry ready to bet on TikTok?

For those of us less familiar with TikTok, let’s start with the basics.

  • Your audience is probably there. TikTok has taken the world by storm, with more than 1 billion monthly active users (MAU). At the defined level, Instagram has 1.4 billion and is expected to reach 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. In the United States, the number continues to grow to reach the hundreds of millions of MAUs, so naturally, brands see an opportunity to activate.
  • Short video content equates to a better opportunity for message retention. TikTok content is fun, short and entertaining, and users are very committed in the consumption of content from brands and creators.
  • TikTok knows what you like and want to see/interact with. The the algorithm is incredibly well tuned to the user, serving relevant content left and right. It also offers the rare opportunity for organic reach when brands create content in native-style formats, compared to other larger, more established platforms.

With that, let’s see why healthcare brands should strategize with TikTok as a key partner.

  • It offers something that most major players don’t: healthcare targeting options that are in-platform/available to advertisers. Whether they did it knowingly or not, TikTok took advantage of the gap Meta created by removing healthcare options by offering robust options that all reach diverse communities of patients and healthcare providers. of Health (HCP), where Facebook/Instagram originally shone.
  • Healthcare professionals and key opinion leaders are active on the platform and are seeing real authority, organic reach, and content salience over other traditional social channels. KOLs are on the rise as a topic on the platform, leveraging content trends to provide useful information to their audience (as well as new users based on algorithmic determination). For the first time in what seems like forever, the use of KOL HCPs in healthcare appears to be a tangible opportunity.
  • The content is usable elsewhere. Let’s recognize the reality of social – these platforms all complement each other (Snapchat and Instagram Stories, TikTok and Reels, etc.). Nine times out of 10, you can reuse a media item in a media unit with a slight adaptation for use in other channels, which makes all legal reviews of this content worthwhile. A TikTok video can be used in Instagram and Facebook feeds, reels, and even stories, which means an asset has many different uses. But that means you have to take the time to get the right content and make sure it feels like it belongs on the platform.

So how should healthcare marketers think about this?

  • Disease Status Awareness: There is huge opportunity and to some extent white spaces (the pharmaceutical industry can be a bit slow to understand trends) to activate DSA campaigns. DSA is compliant within the platform and allowed by TikTok – while branded advertising is still limited (which is a step up from “not allowed”).
  • HCP KOL Activation (for DSA): This is the opportunity to make waves by co-creating unbranded campaigns with HCPs on the platform. Personally, I haven’t heard of a real branded HCP KOL program yet, but TikTok offers plenty of opportunities for brands to take advantage of creator benefits.
  • Take the time to get the right content – This is where brands have to get it right or risk failing. TikTok will immediately deprioritize a video ad that is re-posted and does not provide a native user experience.

Alex Piliafis is SVP and Head of Paid Media for Health at BCW.