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Is TikTok worth your time?

We humans love shiny objects. It’s in our DNA to be attracted to NEW. Social media for plastic surgeons is that shiny object for the foreseeable future, so the question becomes, “Is TikTok worth your time”?

It sounds so exciting to be at the cutting edge where your competitors are not, doesn’t it? You can be the big player in a small pond and grab all the attention before it gets saturated and you get lost in a sea of other surgeons (unless it’s already too late).

This blog post will give you the right questions to ask to determine if you should invest your time and resources into this entertainment marketing channel.

What is TikTok?

TikTok only launched in 2018 as a new and emerging social media platform that gains popularity every day. It allows you to share 15-60 second videos of anything. Those videos show up in people’s feeds, where they view them or swipe through them to find the content they like. 

It’s a fast-paced app and all about quick and mindless entertainment with some education. The second you log in, you see a video at the top of a feed that’s algorithmically curated around your interests. 

If you enjoy the video you’re watching, you can follow, comment, and like the content directly from the video post

If you’re not loving what you see, you can keep swiping up to immediately see more videos. Easy enough.

TikTok’s stats are impression….

  • TikTok celebrated reaching 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021 (TikTok)
  • Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app which ByteDance purchased and merged with TikTok, reportedly had 100 million monthly active users when it was purchased by TikTok in 2018. (The Verge)
  • TikTok was the most downloaded app globally (850 million downloads), followed by WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram in 2020. (Apptopia)
  • TikTok is the Top Free App in the Entertainment* section of the Apple App Store. (Apple App Store)


*Note: Entertainment is the key driver of this app. That makes it difficult to educate would-be patients on your cosmetic services unless you can show off your dance moves first 😉 

Who’s Using TikTok?

Here are the demographics as of April 2021:

28% are under 18 (Business of Apps)

38% between 18-29 

20% between 30-49 

14% among 50-64 (Pew Research Center)

51% are male and 49% are female (Hootsuite)

Why is TikTok so Popular?

Consumers love TikTok because it’s so convenient. You can consume so many different topics in a short amount of time. And, their algorithm caters to the user. They somehow know which videos you want to see so they target very well.

My Personal Note: My 15-year-old niece is obsessed with TikTok and her appearance. She and her friends spend crazy amounts of time taking photos and making videos of themselves and comparing themselves to each other. 

She’s also being targeted with plastic surgeon videos; most likely because we have looked up a few plastic surgeons together. 

I’m ethically uncomfortable with Tiktok not having an age limit that would prohibit young girls like her from seeing plastic surgery videos in her feed. 

And, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Just saying…

Factors to Consider

Tiktok users mainly use this platform for entertainment. That’s why celebrities, musicians, dancers and influencers do well here. And, that’s why in mid-2020, TikTok’s advertising efforts are geared towards big brand advertising with huge ad and video budgets. 

If you are going to interrupt someone’s entertainment, you need to be more entertaining than what they were watching IF you want to grab their attention long enough for them to get to know you well enough, they are willing to reach out to you.

Because when it comes to plastic surgery and social media, it’s content that drives conversation. However, on TikTok, you only have 15-60 seconds to get your content message across. And, you have to compete with that slew of entertaining dance videos.

So how “over the top” are you willing to go to grab attention…

Here are questions to ask yourself to determine if TikTok is worth your time:

  • WHY are you considering this new channel in the first place?
  • What problems do you solve?
  • Who is your target market that has those problems?
  • Can you show off your before/after results?
  • Can you show of happy patient video testimonials?
  • Do you have the time, staff and know-how to make entertaining content
    for this new channel?
  • Since this is an emerging channel, do you have the patience to grow your audience organically?
  • Is your audience buying or just looking? When could they start buying?
  • Are you willing to pay for advertising to get in front of the right audience?

My Recommendations

It’s still too early to know where TikTok is headed. You won’t be the market leader since so many surgeons are there already, but advertising costs are cheaper than other platforms and you can build your younger patient audience (not too young!). 

Given the above, here are my recommendations when it comes to TikTok:

  • If you are fresh out of fellowship, you have nothing but time anyway so go ahead and do what you can to grab attention in this less competitive arena to build your following.
  • For all other plastic surgeons, use a proven platform that prospective cosmetic patients love such as Instagram. Instagram already has the audience you want to attract. Yes, it’s more competitive but the sheer numbers work in your favor. 
  • Before you add another platform to manage, be sure you have gone as deep as you can on your current platforms. For example, use Instagram’s features such as reels, stories, highlights, emojis, carousels, strategic hashtags and Linktr.ee to get better results. 
  • Using advanced video editing and music, test a series of fun quick tip videos discussing plastic surgery secrets to a great nose job or breast aug.
  • Unless you’re an excellent dancer or entertainer, use a younger staff person to be the “front man” for the practice and do all the dancing, singing and comedic relief to grab attention and grow your following like this….

The darn thing about social media is that it’s social. Your following wants to know you personally so that takes your time and can test your comfort zone to determine how much “personal” you want to share with the world. 

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Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.

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