TikTok in Healthcare – Why Systems Should Consider Having a Presence

In case you have been social distancing on social media the last few years as well, TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app that allows users to create and share videos (usually less than 15 seconds in length) on any topic. They’ve also scaled to include a more dedicated effort for paid advertising in the past 12 months.

The simplicity and ease of sharing short-form videos on the platform has resulted in competitors releasing similar content types, like Instagram Reels, in order to remain competitive – especially across Millennial and Gen Z audiences. The short-form video content is played as soon as the app launches. The videos start playing one after another as you scroll, and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of fun, entertaining, and borderline addictive video content.

TikTok initially launched in the U.S. in late 2018 and has continued to increase in popularity year after year, capturing a large share of the percentage of US adult time spent on a social media platform.

According to e-Marketer, TikTok is projected to have 90.6 million monthly users by the end of 2022, surpassing Snapchat and Pinterest but still slightly behind Instagram and Facebook. Despite this, TikTok captures the largest amount of time spent on social media every day (38 minutes to Facebook’s 31 minutes).


TikTok is a disruptor in the digital landscape. In addition to pulling consumers away from other social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, it also has been pulling searches away from the top two search engines, Google and YouTube!

Nearly half of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google, according to Google’s own internal data. There has been an emphasis on education, awareness, and learning on the TikTok platform since the onset of the pandemic. This has largely been supported by the #LearnOnTikTok initiative – educational how-to, tutorial, fun-fact, informative video snippets popular amongst Gen Z and younger Millennials.

49% of TikTok users say TikTok is a source for discovering something new, and 35% say that TikTok is a source for learning something new. Stemming from that, 44% also indicated that they discovered new products and services from videos posted by a brand on TikTok.

So, where is healthcare’s place in this?

TikTok’s health-and-wellness credibility has been bolstered by providers posting organically on the app to expand public health messages, spread awareness on timely topics, and teach younger audiences about specific conditions or initiatives. There is a positive push towards using TikTok as a solution or hub for specific keywords or trends that healthcare systems can take advantage of to spread awareness.

As more people ages 18-34 continue to adopt TikTok as an educational and informational platform, there is an opportunity to use it as a way to communicate preventative care, general wellness, and other critical topics.

TikTok’s audience skews younger than other social media channels, with 45% of the audience under the age of 25. For comparison, only 16% of Facebook’s audience is currently 25 or younger.

Within the core audience of adults 25-54, the percentage of reach within the U.S. population averages 40%.  Facebook and Instagram reach over 80% of this core audience. This audience is critical for introduction into healthcare systems through primary care, which is often an entry point or introduction into the system that then extends into more specialty service lines.

As the Gen Z audience ages, it will be critical to continue to reach this age group within the TikTok platform as it captures a large percentage of the US population that is not active on another platform. These are emerging healthcare decision-makers for themselves, children, and potentially parents in the coming years, so ensuring they have an understanding of a healthcare system and what it has to offer is key long-term.

With video allowing for the strongest brand recognition and unaided recall across digital formats, TikTok is positioned to be a strong platform for awareness-based campaigns targeting Gen Z and Millennials.

While the core audience of adults 25+ is more active on alternative platforms like Facebook and Instagram with more stringent brand safety, there is still a place for TikTok at the table. We would not recommend a wholesale shift in overall paid social strategy to specifically prioritize TikTok over other platforms, but we would recommend beginning to form an organic and paid strategy for TikTok soon.

We suggest testing two ad formats, TopView or In-Feed Ads, layering on both Zefr brand safety and audience segments for Interests & Behaviors aligned with your intended audience as a starting point into the paid side of the platform. From an organic perspective, content would perform best if it was tailored to the TikTok platform and refreshed weekly.

What about brand safety?

Brand safety is a concern for any healthcare system or brand. Late last year, TikTok announced new features and partnerships in hopes of continuing to attract more advertisers to the app, including some of the more highly regulated industries such as healthcare.

TikTok took the following steps to help support advertisers looking to place ads in their space:

  • Added Viewability Partners
    • TikTok focused on partnering with DoubleVerify & MOAT to help verify viewability. This addition is to help answer the critical question: Do my ads have a chance to be seen by real people?
  • TikTok Inventory Filter
    • The TikTok Inventory Filter is built on machine-learning technology that classifies video, text, audio, and other attributes based on the perceived level of risk. This allows advertisers to make decisions about which kind of inventory they’d like to run adjacent to, which allows for more protection of brand guidelines and preservation of brand reputation.
  • Added Brand Suitability Partners
    • TikTok is now partnering with Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Zefr. They hope that by working with these brands, campaigns will run adjacent to verified content. Additionally, TikTok has partnered with OpenSlate since 2020, which gives TikTok the tools they need to keep TikTok a safe place for brand partners.


TL;DR TikTok can be a powerful awareness driver with short-form (15 seconds or less) educational content promoting preventative wellness, fun facts, tips, and tricks for parents with children, etc. Because of the strong presence of users 18-34 on the app regularly consuming content, it would be helpful in reaching key decision-makers in the household that may enter through Primary Care or Pediatrics and then extend over time into other service lines within the system. TikTok is projected to have almost 100 million monthly users across all demos by the end of 2022, surpassing Snapchat and Pinterest, and there is growth across all demographics.

Want to give TikTok a try? We’re happy to connect to discuss your options further.

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