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TikTok with Your Doc

Published on February 19, 2020, at 4:13 p.m.
by Charlotte Arnold.

You used to have to go to the doctor’s office or browse WebMD to get medical information. These days, teenagers are getting medical advice from a surprising source: TikTok. Even more surprising is what this phenomenon tells us about the future of public relations.

Many doctors have flocked to TikTok to share their medical expertise with teenagers and young adults. These messages are mostly about sexual health, mental health, skincare and the dangers of vaping. They have figured out how to use the video sharing app to speak directly to their target audiences.

TikTok is a great platform to reach teenagers and young adults, because TikTok has 500 million monthly active users, and 41% of those users are between the ages of 16 and 24. That is a total of 205 million 16- to 24-year-olds on the app every month.

Some doctors post themselves plainly giving medical advice, while others join in on TikTok trends to share their messages, such as putting medical spins onto popular TikTok dances. For example, Dr. Staci Tanouye posted a video of her doing a popular dance to “Candy” by Doja Cat as a PSA about herpes. The video has 1.1 million likes and 8,110 comments.

There are several other doctors who have gone viral. For example, Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, famous for her anti-vaping platform, has 457,000 followers and 9.3 million total likes.

What these viral TikTok doctors have in common is engagement with their audiences. Users will start conversations and ask questions in the comment sections, and the doctors reply back with their expertise. Sometimes, other doctors will even comment, adding further details.

We frequently see stale campaigns of companies trying to be cool to reach young audiences. These communication efforts often come off as insincere, because it seems like they are trying too hard to be funny. So why are doctors on TikTok any different? The main difference is that they are not merely talking at teenagers, but inspiring engagement by joining in on their fun.

It is clear that messaging is becoming more conversational. Doctors on TikTok show that teens are not demanding campaigns with all of the bells and whistles, but are accepting casual, engaging messages.

This shift does not mean that every company has to do little dances to get their audience’s attention. However, it is a reminder to listen to your audience and respond by having fun with them.

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