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Inside Dentistry
December 2022
Volume 18, Issue 12

The Power of TikTok

Connect with your ideal patients on this wildly popular platform

Joyce Kahng, DDS

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok—does this list overwhelm you? Social media platforms have become an integral part of daily life for many people as well as a new destination for entertainment consumption. Despite having an understanding of the growing importance and relevance of social media in today's culture, many healthcare professionals are still hesitant to dedicate time and energy into learning how to use these platforms for their professional development. To many doctors, marketing on social media feels like a time-consuming, unprofitable venture that just adds to the cost of doing business. Many companies that offer services to manage social media marketing for small businesses have recently popped up. Unfortunately, these services are often very expensive.

A New World

As someone who believes in the power of social media and has used it successfully to grow a dental practice, I admit that I was initially overwhelmed by the incredible growth and popularity of TikTok. Even as a seasoned Instagram user with more than 40,000 followers at the time, I discovered that what worked for me on Instagram did not work on TikTok. Day after day, my videos and posts failed to resonate with the TikTok audience, even though I was pushing myself beyond my normal comfort levels and participating in somewhat embarrassing dances that seemed to perform well for other users.

Starting to use a new social media platform is never easy, and optimal participation requires fresh new content on a daily basis. What quickly discourages many doctors is the realization that social media platforms are not static like their practice websites and require consistent attention and engagement. Oftentimes, the hours logged on social media do not necessarily immediately equate to new patients. This is why it is important to post strategically and with a purpose.

Remaining Relevant

So, why should dentists allocate their time and energy into TikTok? Relevance in society matters; the longer we practice, the more likely we are to age out of our ideal patient populations. My purpose for participating on Instagram and TikTok is to position myself to be relevant to my ideal patient population—not to the patient population that I am most comfortable treating. The reality is that your potential patients are on TikTok. According to the platform's data, TikTok has been downloaded more than 3 billion times, it has more than 130 million monthly active users in the United States, almost 70% of US-based TikTok users are aged 20 years and older, and users open the application approximately 8 times per day. TikTok is even starting to compete with Google as a primary search platform.

A common misconception is that only children and teenagers use TikTok. Although TikTok is used by many younger people, in my personal experience, the patients who have found me through TikTok were not kids at all. In fact, I have been able to connect with my ideal patient audience: working professionals who have the means and motivation to pay for elective procedures such as Invisalign treatment and porcelain veneers. TikTok has provided me with a great way to market to my ideal target audience by bringing my practice to the attention of a new user base that is as robust as Instagram's.

Tips for Success

Why wouldn't you take advantage of a platform that is free and used by billions of people each year? Well, at first, creating content on TikTok may seem confusing and overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the platform:

Commit to scrolling the application for 15 minutes a day. If you hear a song or see a dance more than once, it is probably a trend that you can easily join. Be sure to save an example as a draft for content creation at a later time.

Post as often as you can. As a busy practice owner, it can be difficult to find the time, but remember that posting even once a week is better than not posting at all. Every new video has a chance of getting picked up to go viral. A pro tip is to batch videos and have them ready for posting.

Connect with other dentists and see which video topics and formats do well for them. You do not want to plagiarize their content, but you can use the community as inspiration. They have already tested the waters for you on how many different topics will perform. Examples of topics that usually perform well include colors to avoid when getting braces, how to get rid of bad breath, what is the best type of mouthwash, and how to whiten teeth at home.

Aim to keep your videos under 15 seconds. Videos that are viewed in their entirety by consumers perform well on TikTok and are more likely to be shared with the larger audience. The shorter the video, the more likely the user will watch the whole thing; however, play around to find the ideal length for you. 

Keep the messaging positive. Treatment successes can help to inform potential patients, but dentists should be extremely mindful to not violate the privacy and security rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Create video content that is 70% educational and 30% surrounding trends. Creating educational content is a great opportunity to showcase your expertise and knowledge to potential patients. Have a running list of commonly asked questions from patients and create snappy videos that provide value to the audience.

Use engaging hooks. Create video titles that will catch people's attention and and prompt them to stop scrolling through the options and watch. Videos with great hooks connect with the desires of your potential patients. Examples include, "Here's exactly how you're going to achieve a whiter smile," "The reason your breath stinks…," "Why isn't anybody talking about…," or "If you are seeing this, you probably want straighter teeth."

Keep on Posting

I hope these tips will help motivate and inspire you to grow your practices through the power of social media, particularly TikTok. Remember, the exciting part about TikTok is that you never know what will hit, so keep posting. As always, you can find me on TikTok and Instagram. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions.

About the Author

Joyce Kahng, DDS, is a dental influencer (@joycethedentist) and the owner of Orange + Magnolia Dental Studio in Costa Mesa, California.

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