This article was written by Jessica Levco, a freelance healthcare writer who covered the 26th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) for Greystone.Net.
With 3.5 billion downloads, TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world.
And in March of 2021, Houston Methodist decided it was ready to get in on the action. Annie Phalen, social media program manager, and Adam White, senior video editor, told attendees about the lessons they learned from starting an account during a laugh-out-loud presentation at the 26th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference.
Phalen and White both use TikTok a lot personally and saw how creators were successful in the health and wellness space. They knew their TikTok content would be less formal than Houston Methodist’s brand but figured they could work their way around it.
“We know that this is where so many people are — and it’s where we needed to be because we could add value to the conversation,” Phalen says. “So many other social media platforms are noisier and harder to get noticed. TikTok is how people go viral and the best place where we could get in front of more eyeballs.”
Phalen said that she and White were so excited to get started, the thought of failing never crossed their minds.
“I can’t stress the amount of overconfidence we had when we first started,” Phalen says.
Based on their assumptions, they created:
- Videos where a spokesperson talked about health and wellness topics
- Videos with graphics and text with background music
- Videos with doctors wearing a white coat
But it turns out all the assumptions they made about TikTok were wrong.
“The engagement we got was, ‘We hate you’ and ‘Stop making these videos’,” White says.
Five months and 26 posts later, they only had 64 followers.
“And we knew everyone who was following us — our family, friends and co-workers,” White says.
Failing was rough. The two took it personally. But they kept coming up with new strategies until they figured out how to create successful videos. Now, they have more than 37,000 followers with more than 257,500 likes on all their videos.
Here are the three most popular videos:
“Our constant obsession helped us move forward,” Phalen says. “Anytime something worked, we’d analyze it — trying to figure out what made it so successful. Every failure helped us learn more quickly.”
One big lesson they shared with healthcare marketers who want to start an account? Listen to TikTok’s algorithm.
“When TikTok tells you it’s bad, they are right,” Phalen says. “Our first video about diabetes got 235 views. We took a few months off from doing a diabetes video until we could do it the right way. Listen to what the algorithm tells you, but don’t trash your ideas — keep tweaking.”
A few tips they shared with healthcare marketers who are looking to launch a TikTok account:
- Expand beyond basic nutrition and wellness topics
- Explore hyper-specific topics, such as: chia seed water, celiac disease or keeping burgers moist
- Find a visual style that works for your brand, but for TikTok, too
- Posting frequently gives you a better feel for the platform
- Use the search function to see what’s popular, what’s trending and what people are searching for — and build content around that
Does your marketing team have a story to tell about your social media marketing efforts? Your healthcare marketing colleagues would love to hear about it! Submit a speaking proposal for HCIC23 in Los Angeles when the Call for Speakers opens in January 2023! BOLO for announcements via email and social media when the speaking proposal application becomes available.