If you told me six months ago that I’d be making 1-minute videos about mammograms on TikTok, I would have laughed.
That’s because most in the industry see the platform as an opportunity to pair catchy music with internet memes. But in a short time, TikTok has proven to be a powerhouse for both engagement and consumer education. Its explosion of growth and its potential for visual storytelling have made the platform impossible to ignore—especially in the healthcare space.
For over a decade, we’ve run Genius 3D Mammography’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign. Every year, our team looks forward to this project as a chance to shake things up, all in the name of sharing how crucial early detection is for breast cancer.
When planning this October’s activation, TikTok was a natural fit.
The dynamic social media platform relies heavily on sharing human stories from a genuine point of view. While other channels can feel aspirational, our team has come to appreciate how stripped down and raw the creative style is on TikTok. And better still, the platform thrives on niche communities, which means we could speak directly to people who are passionate about wellness.
It was also an appropriate platform because the strategy leaned heavily into video, which we know is increasingly preferred by patients and physicians alike.
We live in an age of information overload. According to market intelligence firm Mintel, patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) face an overwhelming amount of options and a scarcity of time.
The fast-paced nature of modern life has left them yearning for ways to simplify and streamline their decision-making process. Enter video: A generally faster, more entertaining method of digesting information.
Following Meta and YouTube, TikTok ranks among the top social media platforms in terms of daily users, particularly among people aged 18 to 64.
This preference for visual content is echoed by healthcare professionals. Physicians believe tighter-focused educational videos are more digestible over lengthy explanations. The numbers speak for themselves: Physicians were nine times more likely to rate short videos efficient compared to long videos.
We also knew patients value speed and simplicity, especially with medical information. Over 1 in 5 Americans turn to TikTok before consulting their doctor about health conditions. While that data point might make some medical professionals shift in their seats, we saw it as an opportunity to provide the masses with credible information about screening guidelines.
This direction was a big shift from our previous star-studded partnerships. However, the campaign performance from previous years suggested that our audience connects more with people they can relate to who speak from their own experiences.
We knew we wanted individuals with strong personal motivations for getting screened. They needed to translate information into simple, easy-to-understand language. The creators we selected were breast health advocates themselves: One lost her mother to breast cancer, and another was a survivor who worked in the medical field. Because of this connection, they could naturally make complex health information relatable and engaging.
You can apply the same principles to using key opinion leaders (KOLs) and other industry experts in your campaigns. While it’s important for them to talk the talk, adding a layer of relatability can be a valuable asset to your campaign.
Allowing our talented advocates to shine was a priority for this campaign. Rather than scripting messages or forcing talking points, we embraced a people-first strategy that highlighted their unique experiences. During the pre-interview process, we gained insight into their passions and perspectives around breast health screenings. While we outlined a few key messages to touch on, our talent had the flexibility to riff on ideas that excited them.
Our production decisions also reflected this priority—opting for a raw, remote shoot approach rather than a polished studio shoot. This enabled advocates to speak freely in their own environment.
The final videos focused on their words and wisdom rather than perfect framing or planned monologues. In the editing process, we were careful not to manipulate their messages into sounding overly polished or sales-y.
Since vertical video platforms skew younger, make sure your marketing message can appeal to a wider demographic. Guidelines say that women ages 40 and older should receive mammograms. However, knowing that 70.2% of TikTok users are under age 34, we realized there was an unmet need for breast health awareness targeted to young women, too.
We opted to educate them about how understanding factors like breast density can empower them to make informed decisions. Catching abnormalities or changes earlier also equips healthcare providers to schedule appropriate follow-ups proactively, regardless of age. This shift towards prioritizing early breast education and self-advocacy establishes lifelong healthy habits. And it was relevant to our audience within the screening age.
For conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, or colon cancer that have age-based screening guidelines, the opportunity remains to boost general awareness. With nearly two-thirds of Millennials heading online to self-investigate health concerns, targeting risk awareness beyond when to get screened creates urgency around establishing mindful lifestyle changes sooner.
Yet for prevalent conditions in younger viewers, say asthma or mental health, TikTok could provide nudges towards self-advocacy. Minors and young adults face more barriers to accessing care independently, so providing clear resources and recommendations from their peers helps to support this group. If your audience fits within the platform’s sweet spot of ages 16-34, you may need to modify your message a bit less.
Tailoring your messaging strategy to your viewers on the platform is essential. Otherwise, the content will feel less relevant and won’t catch their attention.
Our recent campaign highlighted how impactful it can be to have messaging directly from a member of the target audience. Altogether, our video got 4.6 million views, reaching 1.3 million unique users in just one month. The testimonial video from a woman in the 40+ demographic, discussing the importance of understanding your breast density, was the top-performing creative. It also drove the most meaningful actions—in this case, searches for facilities that provide breast screenings.
This reinforces why representation matters when reaching out to niche communities. When patients see themselves reflected in the messengers and messaging, it fosters trust and engagement. Testimonials from those in your target audiences can further that connection.
Doing so can make our health communications more relatable, transparent, and empowering. It also allows us to extend the impact of role models and influencers who inspire others to take charge of their health. By including creators and advocates in the process, we can build relationships with patients instead of just talking at them.
If you’re considering bringing TikTok or another vertical video platform into your next marketing campaign, here are some tips for how to be successful.
Fitting with the platform, select talent that can translate information into simple, easy-to-understand language. Find real people who are passionate about your cause to connect to your audience.
Pre-interviewing your talent and having a rough outline of key points allows the dialogue to feel more authentic. If you can, avoid scripts and have your talent expand on messaging points based on their personal experiences and areas of expertise. Deciding key points and claims before your record can also speed up your legal review process.
Since video platforms tend to skew younger, you may need to adjust your main messages. Consider adopting broader awareness messaging or advocating for preventative habits to speak to a larger audience.
Remember that you’re working with real people, not actors. Shorter takes conveying one or two ideas can feel more natural than producing a long winded monologue. Aim for good lighting and a natural and relaxed delivery. Be sure to budget enough time for experimentation so the talent doesn’t feel too rushed.