If your 2024 healthcare marketing strategy doesn’t include tapping into the TikTok healthcare market, it’s time to jump into the proverbial waters. TikTok has over one billion users worldwide, with more than 150 million active users in the United States.¹ The platform is ripe for creating content that will resonate with target audiences searching for healthcare information and/or products and services that can benefit their health.
TikTok users value authentic, diverse content that meets their needs. TikTok’s short-form video content feature is engaging and encourages better user retention rates. TikTok has the highest overall engagement rate at 4.25% compared to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Users prefer seeing content that speaks to authenticity and relatability, ² including “day in the life” videos, humanizing organizations, and first-person point-of-view explainer videos.
Healthcare organizations can reach their target audiences by offering expert recommendations and perspectives about trending topics in healthcare creating ads that tap into those audiences’ pain points. In this guide, we’ll cover how TikTok influences healthcare trends with best practices, top-tier examples, and how to make your healthcare organization’s content HIPAA-compliant.
- Ensuring posts and ads adhere to TikTok’s regulations and HIPAA laws is essential. Content should balance entertainment and education while emphasizing that viewers should seek more in-depth information from trusted medical sources like consumers’ own healthcare professionals. Read more.
- HCPs can guide individuals toward medically accurate public health information and recommendations. Targeting specific consumer groups can educate potential patients and enable them to place more trust in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. Read more.
- Best practices like posting authentic, medically accurate content, keeping videos light-hearted, engaging with your audience, and partnering with influencers can help boost your healthcare brand’s online presence and drive sales. Read more.
How Tiktok is Changing Healthcare Marketing
Can Healthcare Companies Advertise on TikTok?
Healthcare companies can advertise on TikTok. However, ads for pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and medicines must target users aged 18+ and comply with all local laws and regulations. TikTok permits advertisements for brick-and-mortar pharmacies and online pharmacies certified by a third-party licensing organization like the NABP, LegitScript, or their regional equivalents; however, the platform may request validation of the licensing credentials.
In the U.S., TikTok prohibits running healthcare ads that reference:
- Weight loss and fasting products or services
- Weight loss and fasting supplements (e.g., appetite suppressants, detox teas, or fat-burning pills)
- Invasive cosmetic procedures such as rhinoplasty, face fillers, and microdermabrasion3
How to Make TikTok Ads HIPAA-Compliant
With the rise of HCPs using social media, ads, and posts must adhere to TikTok’s regulations and HIPAA laws. Content should balance entertainment and education while emphasizing that viewers should seek more in-depth information from trusted medical sources like consumers’ own healthcare professionals.
Here’s more information on protecting your healthcare TikTok profile to avoid HIPAA violations.
Fact Check Your Research
Healthcare companies have the opportunity to dispel misinformation and encourage better provider-patient relationships by posting medically accurate information on the platform since more users use TikTok as a search engine. For instance, 40% of Gen Z TikTok users (ages 18 to 24)4 use the platform to search topics in place of Google, so it’s important to post information that is correct, precise, and reflects the latest data. Also, one survey found that 89% of Americans believe influencers likely contribute to health misinformation5, so building trust and fact-checking all content is even more crucial.
Protect Patient Data
Healthcare providers can stay HIPAA-compliant on TikTok by not disclosing specific patient information. Even if you don’t mention the patient’s name, discussing their medications or treatment plan and disclosing your location can result in a violation of HIPAA laws. If patients are willing to appear in your marketing videos, they must sign a written consent form that follows state-specific privacy laws and federal requirements6 for releasing patient information.
Don’t Offer Personalized Medical Advice
Responding to comments and engaging with your audience is essential to building relationships, clarifying information, and dispelling misinformation. However, avoid giving medical advice or specific treatment recommendations, as this engagement can unintentionally lead to a patient-provider relationship. All media and engagement should lead to a call-to-action for individuals to seek further information from their personal providers.
Make it clear to your audience that your TikTok profile is for educational purposes only. Place a clear disclaimer in your profile’s bio so it is always available for audiences. It’s also best to state your credentials and reiterate your videos are for educational purposes in every video because many users may not visit your profile to read your bio.
TikTok offers the option to add a clickable disclaimer7 to the bottom of your ads. A clickable disclaimer allows three clickable links to externally hosted web pages or a PDF containing disclaimer information. Adding the link allows healthcare organizations to remain compliant and offer further information about products or services.
How Healthcare Consumers Use TikTok
Why are more individuals turning to TikTok for healthcare information? Because TikTok thrives on creating authentic content, the platform’s users feel more connected and inspired by creators who offer transparency in a creative package. People on healthcare TikTok corners appreciate hearing directly from medical experts, particularly when the information is presented in an accessible way. Let’s examine who is on TikTok and how HCPs can appeal to their interests and patient needs.
A Breakdown of Healthcare TikTok Audiences
With more users flocking to social media with health-related questions, HCPs can guide individuals, especially younger Americans, toward medically accurate public health information and recommendations. Establishing an online presence and targeting these consumer groups can educate potential patients and enable them to trust the medical and pharmaceutical fields more.
HCP Influencers Dominate TikTok Professions
Healthcare organizations can use the popularity of HCPs on the platform to raise awareness, engage with a diverse audience, and humanize their brands. A recent study from Registered Nursing9 found healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and dentists are some of the most popular influencers on TikTok. Moreover, users spent an average of 630,375,000 hours watching videos involving doctors and 427,425,000 hours watching videos involving nurses.
Other healthcare professionals among the top 35 popular professions on the app include chiropractors, orthodontists, pharmacists, physician assistants, optometrists, and pediatricians, among other HCPs. Consumers are interested in watching healthcare-related content and seek medical advice from the platform, particularly from medical experts. The study also found that consumers enjoy various healthcare videos such as “doctor reacts,” funny “day in the life” commentary, and explanations or breakdowns about healthcare conditions and treatments.
Millennials and Gen Z Turn to TikTok for Healthcare Information
According to a recent study from Hall & Partners10 in partnership with ThinkNext, Gen Z and millennials increasingly use TikTok to seek health advice instead of seeing a healthcare professional. Further, nearly 18% of the U.S. population – around 59 million people – are turning to TikTok and Instagram influencers for information and guidance on healthcare conditions. Among patients with chronic conditions, 30% didn’t go to their doctor as a regular information source. And when they do visit a doctor, 29% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials ask for prescriptions they read about online.
One primary reason for this rise in TikTok healthcare is that many consumers feel watching healthcare-related content on TikTok is more accessible than seeing medical professionals5. Nearly 20% of Gen Z patients ask for treatments they heard about from another patient or influencer. Healthcare marketers should consider this data when engaging with target audiences online by making health information accessible to the general public and encouraging consumers to visit their HCP for further information and personalized treatment.
How HCPs Can Find Niche TikTok Communities
The TikTok algorithm creates communities for users to find videos based on their interests through relevant keywords and hashtags. Healthcare brands can perform keyword research on the platform to discover what topics niche communities discuss and current trends. This research can help to refine marketing, product development, and content strategies. For instance, there are 8.8 billion views of videos regarding polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on TikTok under the hashtag #PCOS. Creators like fertility and OB/GYN doctors can connect with community members through this hashtag and related keywords to educate, spread awareness, and offer advice.
5 TikTok Healthcare Ad Best Practices
TikTok’s platform supports both image and video ads. Video ads can be between five to 60 seconds, although the platform recommends nine to fifteen seconds as best practice. In general, videos should be short, highly engaging, and weave a straightforward narrative immediately grips users’ attention. Posts should align with marketing goals and feature a strong, clickable call-to-action so consumers can learn more about your brand offerings.
TikTok offers a unique opportunity for healthcare organizations because it provides healthcare ad targeting options11 built within the platform so HCPs can better reach their target audiences: interests and behavior, hashtags, demographic targeting, city-level geographic targeting, and retargeting. TikTok also enables marketers to seek out audiences based on lists of existing patient profiles.
Let’s dive deeper into TikTok’s best practices every healthcare organization should follow.
1. Stand With Original Content
TikTok users value individual expression and creativity, so it’s best to stand apart from competitors by producing content that is genuine to your brand and specific offerings. For example, “day in the life” and “behind the scenes” videos are popular because they offer more transparency and personalization. High-performing ads on TikTok’s Creative Center look like native, non-sponsored content instead of traditional ads, emphasizing the need to make users feel like they’re speaking one-on-one to a trusted expert.
For inspiration, healthcare brands can filter industry results by searching for sub-categories under “Healthcare.” You’ll be able to find health-related and medical practice ads under sub-categories like “Medical Information,” “Medicine,” and “Medical Services.” Some of the most common types of healthcare TikTok advertisers are audiologists, mental health providers, chiropractors, and pain management doctors.11
2. Find a Niche
One of the best ways to stand apart from the crowd is to find a niche by establishing yourself as the lead expert or source on a specific topic. Promoting your product or service will be easier once you establish trust and raise loyalty among your audience. For example, dermatologists can promote their clinic’s products by educating consumers on specific skin conditions and symptoms. Their ads can then lead to patients’ steps to alleviate those symptoms and encourage dialogue with their providers. Gradually, these strategies will help your healthcare organization build authority.
3. Keep Videos Light-Hearted
Content should leave a positive but lasting impression. Using relatable humor can make learning about a product or service more accessible and encourage a more open-minded perspective. Viewers can better understand the core message, feel more comfortable discussing health-related topics, and see how your company can solve their pain points. The platform encourages creators to play with its unique features, such as green screen capabilities, incorporating trending music or sounds, dueting and stitching other users, and using voiceovers. A recent study found that when brands make TikTok-first ads, 74% of viewers say they catch their attention. Such ads also tend to drive 3.3x more engagement compared to other platforms.12
4. Interact With Your Audience
Take the time to engage with your audience by replying to questions and comments on your posts. Having protocol for community management and responding to comments with a genuine, thoughtful tone fosters meaningful engagement and a solid following. Monitoring posts for engagement can help companies refine their brand messaging, increase brand awareness, and offer clarifying information about healthcare topics.
Use the app to gather insight into patient pain points by seeing what content they interact with, which questions they have, and how they communicate about health issues. This information can help marketers craft content that directly addresses patient needs. However, setting boundaries by encouraging individuals to seek individualized treatment plans from their HCPs is essential to avoid creating a patient-provider relationship online.
5. Engage Current Influencers
TikTok influencers, especially well-known HCPs, can help organizations expand their brand awareness and encourage trust and loyalty. Capitalizing on their robust social media following and mass influence over your target audience can drive more interest in your brand and services. HCPs such as doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners use TikTok to educate consumers on a myriad of health topics and to dispel misinformation about health conditions and procedures. Partnering with an HCP influencer or even specific non-HCP influencers can be an excellent healthcare targeting strategy to reach consumers.
Healthcare Brands On TikTok
HCPs and healthcare organizations trending on TikTok engage their audiences with entertaining, educational content that brings personality to their brands. We’ve selected a few of TikTok’s most prevalent healthcare brands to highlight why their content performed well and how you can emulate their social media strategies.
Why It Works
Salix Pharmaceuticals is partnering with HCPs such as Ethan Milello17, a popular pharmacist on the platform, to advertise Relistor, a prescription that can help alleviate opioid-induced constipation. The pharmacist switches between acting as a pharmacist and a patient, making it clear throughout the dialogue that patients need to consult their physician for proper treatment with multiple disclaimers and a list of possible side effects. Not only does this content spread awareness about the potential benefits of the prescription drug, but it also helps to lower the stigma surrounding the discussion of health conditions like constipation.
Dr. Anthony Youn
Why It Works
TikTok’s skincare content generates billions of views, catering to Gen Z’s and millennials’ skin health and beauty interests. TikTok videos in the beauty industry saw 186% overall growth in 2021.13 Dr. Youn14 is advertising a serum his clinic sells as a more affordable alternative to a highly popular skin serum. Dr. Youn is appealing to users interested in skin health and beauty at more affordable prices by using an approachable tone, upbeat music, K-Pop graphics, and a relatable pain point.
Why It Works
Medtronic Diabetes16 is using patient testimonials for their #MedtronicChampion campaign to advertise their Mini Med 780G device. Positive patient testimonials enable target consumers to identify with this company’s audience base and consider the benefits of using said device. The emotional nature of the video, branded and related hashtags, disclaimer, and clickable link allow potential patients to find this content and the company’s medical device easily.
The Children’s Hospital New Orleans
Why It Works
The Children’s Hospital New Orleans humanizes the healthcare staff with relatable humor and joyful dancing by illustrating their love for king cake before Mardi Gras. The caption “Where are our Louisiana people who can relate?”, hashtags like #kingcake and #nola, and a popular rendition of a gospel song offer a fun, behind-the-scenes look at the hospital and its staff’s appreciation of local culture and city pride. The video can connect potential and current patients to the healthcare system’s landing page with lighthearted content.
Why It Works
Cleveland Clinic15 highlights its innovative research while displaying compassion for standard procedures that can cause distress to patients. The video’s narrator is a cardiac MRI technologist who offers an expert perspective, gives a human face to the healthcare organization’s brand, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the procedure. These strategies work to educate viewers while calling attention to the clinic’s research.
Create a Winning Healthcare TikTok Advertising Strategy
As TikTok continues to soar in popularity, healthcare organizations can leverage the platform to educate their target audience and develop meaningful connections. By investing in posting creative content and engaging with community members, healthcare organizations can drive brand awareness, create better dialogue between patients and their providers, and increase sales of product offerings. If you’re searching for an expert healthcare marketing agency to help you build a successful healthcare TikTok strategy, turn to Adfire Health to meet your marketing needs.
At Adfire Health, we work with healthcare marketers to create optimized, highly effective, data-based digital engagement strategies. With Thumbprint™, our segmented data ecosystem of over 8.2 million healthcare professionals, we can offer nationwide 1:1 engagement and access to healthcare professionals.
We bring our years of hands-on experience to every new campaign and work with you to get the best results possible. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your business.
- Ruby, D. (2023, August 9). 45+ TikTok statistics in 2023 (Users, Revenue & Trends). Demandsage. https://www.demandsage.com/tiktok-user-statistics/
- Social insider. (n.d.) Social media industry benchmarks study 2023 edition. https://www.socialinsider.io/data-geeks/Benchmarks_study_2023.pdf
- TikTok Business Help Center. (n.d.). TikTok advertising policies: Industry entry – North America. https://ads.tiktok.com/help/article/tiktok-advertising-policies-industry-entry-north-america?lang=en
- Rowe, A. (2022, July 13). Nearly 40% of Gen Z use TikTok and Instagram instead of Google. Tech.co. https://tech.co/news/google-gen-z-tiktok-instagram-search
- CharityRX News. (2022, September 21). The shifting role of influence and authority in the rx drug & health supplement market. https://www.charityrx.com/blog/the-shifting-role-of-influence-and-authority-in-the-rx-drug-health-supplement-market/
- Jackson LLP Healthcare Lawyers. (n.d.). TikTok takeover: Legal considerations for posting healthcare videos. https://jacksonllp.com/tiktok-for-healthcare-professionals/
- TikTok Business Help Center. (n.d.). How to add disclaimers to ads. https://ads.tiktok.com/help/article/add-disclaimers-to-ads?lang=en
- Howarth, J. (2023, July 6). TikTok User Age, Gender, & Demographics (2023). Exploding Topics. https://explodingtopics.com/blog/tiktok-demographics#tiktok-users-age
- Burger, C. (2023, August 29). The most popular professions on TikTok. RegisteredNursing.org. https://www.registerednursing.org/articles/most-popular-professions-tiktok/
- Ireland, L. (2023, February 24). Dr TikTok: The new player in medical information and healthcare advice. Hall & Partners. https://hallandpartners.com/news/dr-tiktok-new-player-in-medical-information-healthcare-advice
- Keehler, J. (2022, November 22). TikTok advertising for healthcare – A guide. Runner Medical Marketing. https://runneragency.com/blog/tiktok-advertising-healthcare/#:~:text=TikTok%20Advertising%20–%20Targeting%20for%20Healthcare,signal%20they%27re%20interested%20in.
- TikTok for Business. (2023, June 12). Creative codes: 6 principles for creating on TikTok.
- Guthrie, C. (2022, March 9). 33 TikTok Statistics to Share with Your Marketing Team ASAP. Statusphere. https://brands.joinstatus.com/tiktok-statistics
- Youn, A. [@doctoryoun]. (2023, August 29). This is my dupe for the top Vitamin C serum on the market! #vitaminc #vitamincserum #beautydupes #dupes [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@doctoryoun/video/7272854965280869678?lang=en
- Children’s Hospital New Orleans. [@childrenshospital_nola]. (2022, January 28). Where are our Louisiana people who can relate? #kingcake #nola #chnola [Video]. TikTok.
- Medtronic Diabetes. [@medtronicdiabetes]. (2023, August 15). We asked #MedtronicChampion Cam what has changed his life since he started using the #MiniMed780G. [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@medtronicdiabetes/video/7267665721516150058
- Milello, E. [@millennialrx]. (2023, January 5). #ad Vist @Relistor for full prescribing information, including the medication guide, and talk to your doctor for more info. #prescription #pharmacy [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@millennialrx/video/7185355617610108203