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Seal of Approval: How TikTok Boosted the COVID Vaccines’ Credibility and Public Acceptance

TikTok has quickly become one of the world’s most profitable apps with over 800 million users worldwide. It boasts a far reach with user-generated content that feels particularly digestible and easy-to-create, but also makes it easy to exploit. Advertisers have become aware of the platform’s potential power and have started tapping into key influencers to post about their products and boost awareness among their millions of followers.

In this constantly evolving COVID world, TikTok has found itself as an unexpected leader in healthcare communications. HCPs and consumers have taken to the app to share their expertise and experience with the recently approved COVID vaccines. In an effort to get past ever-growing online misinformation, they’ve created and shared short videos that help educate and motivate people to get vaccinated.

At Egg, we love to explore and dissect the way healthcare communication has evolved throughout the years. With the necessary rise of telehealth, consumers are more comfortable than ever to receive care and information online. We’ve done a range of projects to explore the motivations and desires that drive consumers to adopt and embrace new ways of receiving health information.

Early in the pandemic, scientists, such as @dr.noc, used the app to create short clips stressing the importance of social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands to #StopTheSpread. He shared sobering statistics about the death toll and infection rates daily and encouraged people to get vaccinated once they were readily available.

Frontline workers also walked us through their experience as one of the first cohorts to receive the vaccine, with many documenting the historic moment they got vaccinated in an effort to help ease people’s hesitations and fears around the process. The vaccine became a badge of honor, signaling we were getting closer to normal.

Currently, we are seeing a growing number of consumers utilizing the app and creatively showcasing their original and humorous takes while working to counteract a growing amount of misinformation online. @abombinatrix takes a magnet and puts it against her arm, where it immediately falls, in order to dispel the myth there’s a “chip” implanted in the vaccine. Next, she licks the magnet and sticks it on herself to show that people who were able to stick the magnet to themselves were likely just sweaty.

@hotvickkrishna a development and operations engineer got bored during quarantine and began developing one-man skits to explain in terminology the average person could understand how the mRNA vaccine works. He used forks in between his fingers to represent the spike proteins on the coronavirus. He would use props around his house to play the different characters needed and even did a set of videos explaining how each of the three approved coronavirus vaccines worked.

These consumer-led efforts also have implications for healthcare companies on a brand level. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were once names that felt unrelatable and foreign and have now become conversation starters due to their growing presence as topics on TikTok. These and other pharmaceutical companies are beginning to
embrace and engage with more digital and unconventional communication strategies broadening their reach and giving them the ability to find and hone in on their desired segments.

Egg appreciates the importance of understanding tone and manner of communication to reach and engage diverse groups in sensitive and often difficult health conditions. Along with our clients, our radar is tuned to new and emerging ways to leverage the power of digital platforms to advance culturally-important initiatives.