How TikTok is changing healthcare marketing
Topic: How TikTok is changing healthcare marketing
When a severe breathing problem sent Nina Luker to the emergency room in early February 2020, she feared COVID-19, the respiratory illness just beginning its sweep through the country. The news turned out to be much worse: Within weeks, she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 DLBCL (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma).
Luker, 25, already knew more about TikTok than most people. As head of North American partnerships at Shuttlerock, a mobile-first video ad platform, she had experimented to see how it might work for her clients. Pre-cancer, Luker’s first post chronicled a night hanging out with friends in her New York City apartment, her long blonde hair flowing as she danced.
After her diagnosis, though, TikTok turned into a kind of cancer lifeline. Her short videos captured numerous vulnerable moments in her cancer journey — but just as many that showcased her fighting spirit. With TikTok along for the ride, she danced her way through chemotherapy.
Luker even recalls the precise moment she fully grasped the platform’s impact. “It’s the video of my dad shaving all my hair off,” she says. “That moment is often one of the toughest parts for cancer patients, and I managed to smile throughout the whole thing. It was a personal, genuine experience.” As of late March 2021, it had notched more than 2.6 million views.
It convinced Luker, who also shared her story through channels such as CaringBridge, that TikTok is far more than the Hercules of personal platforms. She now believes that it represents a brilliant opportunity for the right healthcare brands.
“It’s a way to step away from the traditional,” she explains. “As long as marketers understand that its true power comes from the content creators and not the brand, it can be an incredible communications tool.”
TikTok had been surging in popularity prior to the pandemic. But as the world found itself with billions of spare hours, the platform truly soared. It became the year’s most downloaded app, with more than 2 billion users welcoming it onto their phones. The company claims to have about 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., with 50 million of them checking in on a daily basis.
As many as a third of TikTok’s users are age 14 or younger, so it’s no surprise that some of the content is just plain silly. Given the anxiety of the times, perhaps that’s why the platform has proven irresistible.
Savvy marketers such as Procter & Gamble recognized that appeal early on. In March 2020, Ohio’s governor called P&G in a panic, asking for help in convincing young people to stay home and socially distance. While P&G’s long-term agency Grey had just one weekend to hatch a plan, it came up with a winner: It tapped Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s biggest star, for the #DistanceDance.
The challenge quickly turned into a social-media sensation, garnering 17.7 billion views. In addition to raising funds for COVID-19 relief, #DistanceDance became the top brand program in TikTok history, hitting the right crowd at the right moment.
Topic Discussed: How TikTok is changing healthcare marketing
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