November 26th, 2019

Should Sponsors and CROs Advertise Clinical Trials on TikTok?

tiktok clinical trials

With the right approach, TikTok can build brand recognition and help new audiences, including potential patients, connect with clinical trials.

TikTok is a rapidly growing music and video social platform. The premise is simple: a video clip is uploaded by a member, and the community experiments with manipulating audiovisual content in different ways. 

But because TikTok is relatively new, many sponsors and CROs have been hesitant to experiment with the app’s capabilities. This may be changing, however, as TikTok’s user base continues to grow. 

Recently, Mucinex became the first over-the-counter medicine to use TikTok for product promotion. Mucinex launched a successful Halloween campaign adapted from its Mr. Mucus TV commercials. The brand worked with TikTok to find four influencers who each crafted a 15-second video of themselves made-up as zombies, featuring the hashtag #TooSickToBeSick. By the end of the campaign, all videos with that hashtag had reached more than 400 million views.

So what can Sponsors and CROs, who may be planning or running clinical trials, take away from Mucinex’s TikTok success? While the app may be new and uncharted territory for clinical trials, it offers a unique opportunity to reach potential patients. By embracing the platform, sponsors and CROs can utilize innovative outreach efforts and connect with a new generation of patients.

Reaching a New Demographic

While the music and video app is unlikely to become the dominant social platform for clinical trial recruitment, TikTok is an intriguing option for sponsors and CROs looking to connect with younger patients. Over 50% of TikTok users in the US are under 34, with the highest number of unique users falling in the 18-24 age group.  

Successfully leveraged, TikTok presents a promising way to introduce clinical trials to these users. By designing content to fit the short video format, sponsors and CROs have an opportunity to interact with younger demographics in an informal setting. Further, as healthcare content may appear intimidating to young adults, sponsors and CROs can use TikTok to display a more approachable side of clinical trials. 

Experimenting With TikTok

Understanding TikTok’s unique offerings is key to taking advantage of the platform. TikTok just recently launched video ads and in-app purchases, so it is unlikely to generate the kind of click-through rates that platforms like Facebook offer. However, since best-practices for TikTok have yet to be developed, sponsors and CROs can use the app to embrace a more experimental approach to patient outreach.

In addition to working with influencers, brands have generally found success designing ads that engage with already popular TikTok content. These approachable ads offer content that users can view as part of their feed instead of as disruptions to their experience. 

The Growing Reach of Social Media

Even if they’re not ready to embrace TikTok, sponsors and CROs should still consider expanding their social media efforts beyond Facebook and Twitter. TikTok is only one of many engaging platforms that can help clinical trials connect with new patients.

Snapchat, for instance, recently surpassed Twitter in the number of daily active users, with the average user opening the app 18 times a day. The social photo-sharing platform has proved especially popular with medical fields with strong visual elements such as dermatology. 

Finally, Instagram has become a key platform for the medical community, and Instagram Stories can attract patients to clinical trials by engaging with them on a personal, emotional level. Patients are looking for stories from peers that are compelling and relatable, and Instagram Stories enables sponsors and CROs to craft human narratives capable of creating an authentic connection with patients.

The rise of TikTok shows that the social media landscape is continuously evolving. For sponsors and CROs looking to recruit patients, experimenting with new platforms can make all the difference when it comes to connecting with diverse and engaged audiences.