Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: Is It Finally Time for You to Embrace TikTok?

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By Peter Decoteau

A challenge unique to marketers is that of opportunity — what Barry Schwartz termed “The Paradox of Choice” in his aptly titled book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. The paradox of choice asserts that humans inherently want as many options for a given decision as possible, yet the more options we have, the more anxious, confused, and, consequently, less decisive we get.

Schwartz’s solution is, of course, to find ways to narrow down your options. In marketing, this is a near impossibility. Beyond the broad range of baseline options we must begin with — things like goals, core audiences, and messages — we now face a constant litany of new platforms and technologies that offer the new best way to reach these audiences and amplify our messages. And yet, as audiences’ preferences change, our ability to evolve and adapt with them — to remain ever curious and open-minded to new opportunities — is a crucial part of successful marketing.

When looking to new opportunities like trendy social media platforms or technological advances, it’s important, then, to keep the core components of your strategy in mind and to always consider first how they might fit in with your organizational goals (new patients, recruitment, etc.), where and how they might fit into your conversion funnel (like lead generation, lead nurturing, and conversion) and how they might align with, or reposition, your brand identity.

All of this brings us to TikTok — the fastest-growing social media platform of all time, with more than 3.5 billion downloads and 1 billion active users worldwide in 2022. The app hosts an endless stream of short-form videos, enhanced with filters, graphics, text, and music, that range across genres and languages. To new users, it can feel like a fire hose of quirky dance trends and political comedy bits, but its algorithm quickly attunes itself to users’ tastes based on views, accounts followed, and engagement.

Like another recent social media phenomenon, Snapchat, the marketing opportunities in TikTok are not as apparent as in their older, more established counterparts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Enterprising marketers, though, can find plenty of advantages in getting familiar with this meteoric app.

It’s no surprise that TikTok’s user base skews the youngest of the bunch, and so clinics looking to reach a younger audience can find value in building it into their social media strategy. When used well, not only can TikTok be an effective way to reach young adults who need physical therapy today, it can also be a strategic long-view form of marketing that builds awareness within populations long before they may ever need our services. Even better, TikTok’s userbase is getting older as more and more adults aged 30-plus adopt the platform, so its reach is expanding beyond just Gen Z.

When considering adopting TikTok into your social media strategy, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Do I know what I’m doing? Get deeply familiar with the platform’s culture and technology before using it for your business. Make sure to have an insider’s knowledge of its capabilities, trends, inside jokes, etc. so you can speak its language. Otherwise, you’ll stand out…and not in a good way.
  • Are we sending users to the right place? Like Instagram, TikTok doesn’t allow creators to include clickable links in posts. Instead, encourage followers to click the link in your bio, and make sure that link goes to a TikTok-specific landing page, not your homepage. This way, you can track traffic and conversions while catering the page content and messages to your niche audience.
  • Are we on brand? Keep your branding and content consistent. This not only allows users, who tend to scroll quickly through their feed, to recognize your videos; it also reinforces your brand identity to this new audience and sets your “personality” for all who follow.

Once you’ve become familiar with the platform, built your landing page, and identified your brand style and personality, it’s time to create. As with any social media platform, it’s vital to keep in mind what your audience finds engaging and valuable. In a previous article, February 2022’s “Using Content to Deepen Your Connection,” (bit.ly/3cImViz) we discussed the Content Matrix, which defines good content as being some combination of entertaining, educational, inspirational, and convincing. Luckily, that framework still holds true on TikTok, though its execution will likely look much different. Whether it’s generating leads in active populations or engaging with young potential employees, here are some examples of content that can gain traction on TikTok:

  • Activity-specific exercises and stretches for active adults covering things like weightlifting techniques, running gait, and recovery.
  • Quick pain relief tips for people experiencing common activity-related pain, such as back, neck, knee, and foot pain.
  • Bite-sized introductions and demonstrations of modern techniques and technology like blood flow restriction, dry needling, Kinesio Taping, and transitional rehab.
  • Introductions to other healthcare providers in your community offering unique or relevant services, such as cryotherapy, cycling, and boot camps (with an added benefit of building relationships in your community!).
  • Virtual tours of your clinics and “meet your physical therapist” profiles.
  • Information and insights for young physical therapist recruitment, such as clinical advice and insider looks into what it’s like to work in physical therapy.

With the myriad options for marketers nowadays, jumping onto a trendy new platform or technology can be intriguing and intimidating in equal measure. When you’re able to strategically consider whether these opportunities are the right fit for your audience, goals, and messages, your options may (thankfully) decrease, though hard decisions will always have to be made, as our time and resources are inevitably finite. TikTok is just one example of a growing platform that offers certain businesses the opportunity to reach new audiences in ways they perhaps haven’t been able to do before. 


Peter Decoteau

Peter Decoteau is the Director of Marketing at Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers (PTSMC), Connecticut’s largest private practice physical therapy company. He can be reached at peter.decoteau@ptsmc.com.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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