It’s no secret that TikTok can serve as a valuable tool for influencer marketers. 68% of US marketers said they were planning on using TikTok for influencer marketing this year, making it the third most popular format behind Instagram and Instagram Stories. In the healthcare space, doctors and health care professionals (HCPs) have started to use the platform’s popularity as an opportunity to counteract misinformation, increase disease awareness, and share their stories. However, healthcare brands might feel cautious using a social media platform meant to entertain, having to navigate FDA regulations that mandate that they list the side effects and risks when they advertise products.
While some brands may not have to worry about certain legal restrictions, such as the age of who can see an ad, other healthcare brands may need to restrict the types of ads they use on TikTok. Working with influencers also has to be done with careful consideration, ensuring all the legal requirements and FDA as well as FTC disclosures are met.
But with risk, comes great reward. Brands like Mucinex have found success on TikTok using influencers to spread the word about their product through one of the platform’s earliest trends–dance challenges. Mucinex teamed up with dance social media stars tWitch and Allison Holker from popular TV series So You Think You Can Dance to come up with a dance challenge that promoted Mucinex’s Nightshift product. The "zombie dance" showed how Mucinex aids cold and flu symptoms and users were invited to submit their own version of the dance using #BeatTheZombieFunk hashtag, which was even shared by Refinery29 as seen below.
Source: Julius’ Content Search
P&G teamed up with TikTok superstar Charli D’Amelio to fundraise and educate younger generations to stop the spread of COVID-19 using social distancing using #DistanceDance. TikTok donated one of their top media placements garnering 8 billion views and 1.7 million imitation dances from celebrities, influencers, and users.
Clearly, Charli sparked greater influencer participation, as the hashtag was used over 70 times from other influencers across social which helped jump-start the trend organically.
Source: Julius’ Content Search, Insights View
These brands are hitting the tip of the iceberg on the short-form social media app. Here are 5 strategic ways to start thinking through influencer marketing strategies for healthcare brands on TikTok.
- Find the right brand ambassadors and/or influencers for your campaign. Finding the right influencers for your specific brand can be tough. Julius is there to help find influential users who already are fans of your brand’s products. It’s best if they already use the product in order to create an authentic message for users. Force fitting influencers in the health and wellness space could lead to a marketing mishap, so take the time to do proper background checks and legal reviews.
- Prompt user participation by using TikTok features. The best way to unlock the power of TikTok is to garner user participation for your campaign. This could be jump started by influencer content through organic or paid ads–but TikTok has special features that make gathering UGC easy such as creating a stitch, challenge, hashtag, lens, or sound. These features provide a vehicle for fans of the brand or the brand message to participate. People are sharing stories and health journeys on TikTok, how can healthcare brands join in on the conversation?
- Partner with influential healthcare providers for unbranded campaign moments. Healthcare providers are becoming more prominent on TikTok especially after the pandemic when they started using it to combat misinformation, telling patient stories, and spreading health awareness. People are looking for voices they can reliably count on–and HCPs are the authority in the healthcare space. From dermatologists to oncologists, healthcare providers could be great partners to brands especially in unbranded disease awareness or purpose-driven campaigns. Julius’ Ailments and Cause tags make it easy for brands to discover influencer partners that are challenged with different health issues, or are passionate about finding a cure, on top of other partner criteria the brand might have.
- Join in on the conversation by making scientific information more digestible. Another unbranded way to utilize TikTok is to take the nitty-gritty scientific information and make it user-friendly so that anyone can digest it. Within TikTok, there are a ton of educational videos within niches like #HealthTok, #TeacherTok, and #ScienceTok. Find the niche that’s right for you, find trending hashtags within that niche, and create appropriate organic content that is valuable to audiences who are interested. Julius’ Content Search can help you identify influencers that are using those hashtags so you can potentially partner with them, too.
- Advertise your influencer campaign using TikTok’s advertising platform. Although TikTok has grown so much since its launch in 2016, it’s still a relatively new platform. And although it doesn’t have the sophisticated capabilities that more advanced platforms like Facebook or Twitter have for influencer campaigns in the healthcare space, it does offer some ad formats that healthcare brands can capitalize on–though note that some healthcare brands are prohibited from using some formats due to age targeting restrictions (such as the sponsored branded hashtag challenge format which does not yet have an age gate). Talk to your TikTok rep to see what formats are available for your brand as it does change based on products and certain restrictions in geographical regions.
All in all, don’t be afraid of exploring TikTok when thinking through influencer partnerships for your brands. TikTok is a place of authenticity and chances of getting a “hit” are the same for everyone, even healthcare brands. There’s an opportunity especially for healthcare brands to build up a community of brand ambassadors in patients, healthcare providers, and advocates within your niche. Start forming relationships slowly by interacting with people who are already using your products, and then build up to amplified influencer campaigns and paid partnerships on the platform. Avoid legal troubles by partnering with your legal teams upfront, so that everyone understands disclosures needed, and figure out the best TikTok influencers strategies for your brands from there!
Alyssa Palermo is an Associate Director of Social Strategy at Ogilvy. She has 8+ years experience under her belt working on digital strategies for top clients like Samsung Mobile, TaskRabbit, Merck, Google Play, Oxygen, Smirnoff, Nestlé Waters, Lacoste, and CeraVe. Her core belief is that all digital content should stem from positive, strategic thinking.