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TikTok for the Modern Eye Doc

An OD shares her tips on how ECPs can make the most of the latest social media platform.

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IF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC teaches you anything, it is that planning and communication are foundational for a healthy optometric practice. Clear transmission of information, be it marketing or new policies and procedures, can prove challenging in a world of information overload and attention fatigue. The universal shutdown brought about an abrupt awareness to various social media platforms that professionals might not ever have considered. It’s more obvious than ever that gone are the days of the Yellow Pages to reach your ideal demographic.

Historically, social media platforms began with a specialized intent (such as photography editing), and then rapidly evolved into an efficient communication channel. Businesses have realized that from Facebook to LinkedIn to Instagram, professional messages can be well received. Enter one of the newest social media apps: TikTok.

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TikTok started as musical.ly in 2016 as a way to create short lip-sync music videos. It was transformed into TikTok in 2018, which expanded the viewer reach and morphed the platform. It was the seventh most downloaded mobile app last year alone! In essence, TikTok allows a user to shoot and edit video clips up to 60 seconds in length. There are many background sounds, voiceover options, and videography effects to allow a creative element. One key with this platform is that there are trends that happen quickly.

Though it is known as an app for youth, 41 percent of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24, and 50 percent are over 34. Don’t underestimate the value of this demographic, as it is also rapidly aging up. It would be erroneous to assume patients can’t be reached. As with real estate, timing is paramount. Getting in on the app during its rapid increase in downloads leverages the probability of success.

So how can eyecare providers capture this rapidly growing audience? Firstly, look at it as any other means of spreading eye health awareness. The importance of routine eye care, risks of e-commerce in the optical world, and cool disease facts are just some examples that could be covered in 60 seconds or less. Education and “how-to” videos seem to do well in the health care sector. The more we can educate the public on the importance of ocular health and disease prevention, the better for our patients and the stronger our profession will be. Hopping on trends, using trending music, and adding viewer value will boost your odds of success.

Secondarily, if you have a practice specialty, it is especially valuable to utilize many forms of social media platforms. For example, I have an internal dry eye clinic. Many of my videos are about difference facets of dry eye (what it is, anatomy lessons, how to help, at home therapies, etc.). Patients are out there searching for answers where Google has failed them.

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Finally, just start! None of these platforms will lead to success if the first, albeit scary step of posting isn’t taken. For TikTok, download the app to your mobile device, pick a username, and start filming (vertically). Scrolling through the “For You” page will help you get a grasp and research what it is all about. A bonus is that you can easily crosspost any TikTok content you choose to Instagram and Facebook. Once you start, consistency is important. Keep that information flowing and watch your message spread.

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