Who Created TikTok, What Is It, and How Can You Use TikTok for Marketing?

TikTok is an app developed by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012. The app enjoyed over 1 billion downloads in its first year (2018) alone and continues to grow. TikTok is similar in function to Vine, the short looping video platform that was cut by Twitter in 2016. However, TikTok offers more features including its signature musical overlay ability that it borrowed from Musical.ly, an app ByteDance absorbed in 2017 and merged with its own early version of TikTok.

Within TikTok, users create short video loops of lip-syncing videos, comedy skits, dancing, and so much more. The app is dominated by Gen Z and millennials with 66% of worldwide users under the age of 30. In fact, Gen Z outpaces millennials by making up 40% of TikTok’s users.

This “young people’s” platform may seem to have no real place in veterinary marketing, but the truth is that it does.

Benefits of Using TikTok for Marketing

  • Cultivate a relationship with your future clients. Many young millennials and Gen Zs are future pet parents. By establishing a trusting relationship with them, you’ll pave the way to a deeper commitment down the road when they have a pet of their own (or two!).
  • Connect with your future employees. Many TikTok users are in high school or college, and some are in their graduate programs. By creating content they can relate to and connecting with them early in their educational formation, you can encourage younger students to follow their dreams of becoming a vet or technician. For graduate students already in DVM programs, you can form a deeper relationship that could secure you a new vet or two after they graduate.
  • Nurture the relationship with your current clients. Your current clients may be the millennial pet parents who are on TikTok already. Or perhaps, your clients are the parents to your Gen Z TikTok audience! Either way, you can create compelling content that positions your animal hospital as an authority as well as a compassionate place for their pets. Young people can have a strong influence on their parents, so don’t be afraid to connect with them!

How You Can Use TikTok in Veterinary Marketing

Only 4% of marketers admit to using TikTok for business purposes, and that number is bound to be even smaller in the veterinary space. By diving into TikTok now and experimenting with what kind of content engages your audience, you’ll be several steps ahead of the competition.

Here are some ideas to get you started on TikTok:

  • Post informational, yet light-hearted videos about healthcare topics. Answering frequently asked questions can engage pet parents on TikTok… or their kids! Kids may talk about it or even show it to their parents. It can draw new clients to your practice as well as solidify your relationship with current clients.
  • Show behind-the-scenes videos of your staff. You can be more informational and showcase something like Fear Free handling or acupuncture or you can get fun and creative. Maybe shoot a parody staff meeting or a dance-off between staff members. These kinds of videos can not only endear your hospital to current and future clients, but it can also help position you as a fun, supportive place to work for current and future veterinary students.
  • Create content that specifically appeals to future vets or other veterinary professionals. Share some helpful study tips, or show how something you learned in school is helping you during exams. This will help you connect with potential future employees!
  • Take part in challenges. Some of the bigger players on TikTok, including TikTok itself, will occasionally run “challenges.” For instance, Chipotle ran their #GuacDance challenge which encouraged people to show off their dance moves to Dr. Jean’s “Guacamole Song.” Encourage your staff to take part in fun challenges like this, or better yet, create your own challenges!



Still not sure what it will look like to be a veterinary professional on TikTok? Check these out:

Rocky 🐾 on TikTok

Rocky 🐾(@rockyvet) has created a short video on TikTok with music When he looks at me. I promise to never judge, my goal is to get your pup feeling better ASAP #vetmed #toxicity #veterinarian #allstarmoment #judgementfree

Dr. Span Cosplay on TikTok

Dr. Span Cosplay(@spancosplay) has created a short video on TikTok with music original sound. They hate those. #fyp #fypage #ThatsWhatILike #veterinarian #vetlife #vet #handgestures #ThisIsQuitting #HMmerchformation #pug

SEVNeurology on TikTok

SEVNeurology(@southeastveterinaryneuro) has created a short video on TikTok with music The Months of the Year. Saving pets every day #vettech #vettechlife #veterinarian #petlover #adoptdontshop #2019wrapped #vetmed #dog #dogchallenge #transformation #fyp #fy

The Final Word on TikTok

All in all, TikTok is a great tool to connect with both current and future pet parents. It offers a perfect opportunity to get young people involved and interested in your practice. They may help convince their parents to take their pets to you or they may take their own pets to you in the future. It also helps establish a bond with current veterinary students, so when they graduate, you’ll be first on their list of potential employers.

While TikTok is still not quite for everyone and every brand, its influence is growing. Veterinarians and veterinary professionals can get a head start in establishing their brand identity while the platform is still young. Often, this means having some fun and showing a different side of your practice that can endear your audience to you. Bottom line? Have fun with it!