Jul 08 2020
TikTok has become more than just a social platform for fun, lighthearted videos and hashtag challenges. (Though those are of course earning billions of views.) When the pandemic hit, many began showing their day-to-day lives while they’re stuck indoors, and song clips about isolation became increasingly popular. The app began taking measures to inform, adding an information tag on videos that are tagged #coronavirus which leads to an information landing page featuring sections on how to protect oneself, a Q&A forum, and a mythbusters section. When the Black Lives Matter protests started, young activists took to the app to raise awareness on racism, and turn those dance moves and trends into “political statements.” The New York Times has reported that TikTok is emerging as a new space for news and information—especially for teens. Ahead of the 2020 election, many first-time voters are using the platform to form coalitions, campaign, debate, and even run fact checks.
It’s also become an app to find information on, well, pretty much anything. Need inspiration to exercise? Fitness influencers got you. Need home renovation ideas while you’re cooped up inside? There’s videos for that. What about animal facts? A young marine biologist went viral earlier this year with his videos on “ocean factoids” about creatures lurking under the sea. History lessons? Yup, those have gone viral too.
In the last few months, as lockdowns have continued for many, the app has also become a way for professionals—not just marketers—to reach the young consumers they can’t see in person. educate and give tips to TikTokers on a variety of subjects. Here are just some of the professionals going on TikTok to reach young users during the COVID era:
Health organizations like the WHO have partnered with TikTok to dispel rumors about Coronavirus and give accurate information through an official account and hosting regular livestreams. The CDC also just announced they are considering tapping the platform to encourage more young Americans to practice safety protocols like social distancing. But during COVID, doctors and nurses have also become stars on the platform. Users honored National Doctors’ Day in March with the hashtag #CelebrateDoctors, which now has 2.7 billion views, sharing videos applauding them for their sacrifices during COVID. But doctors and nurses have also become influencers on the platform in their own right: Aside from just education-based videos, users like Kala Baker (@nursekala) have gotten attention for bringing joy to her nearly 57K followers with lip syncing and dancing videos to popular TikTok songs like Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”
Even before the pandemic hit, some doctors were already trying to “go viral” on the app to educate users about other topics like sex education. Dr. Danielle Jones (@mamadoctorjones), who has dubbed herself “TikTok’s 1st Gynecologist,” has around 466K followers and her videos have amassed thousands and millions of views. Meanwhile, Dr. Leslie (@drleslie), who has nearly 760K followers, has made videos on the topics of the dangers of vaping (which has garnered 3 million views), flu and HPV vaccines, and how viewers can “burn calories” by doing viral TikTok dances. Some nurses and doctors have used the platform to bring awareness to issues like racism in the healthcare industry amid the Black Lives Matter protests, like Dr. Jennifer Lincoln (@drjenniferlincoln) whose video on Black Americans’ pain being taken “less seriously” received more than 503K views. From advice to activism, healthcare professionals are continuing creating TikTok content to educate and entertain young users, a trend that will clearly last beyond the pandemic.
YPulse’s exclusive COVID data found that 41% of 13-39-year-olds’ mental health has been negatively impacted by the virus, and mental health professionals are working to alleviate young people’s anxieties around the pandemic. Back in May during Mental Health Awareness month, TikTok hosted an online campaign to raise awareness with the hashtag #mentalhealthawareness (which has accumulated 1.8 billion views) for users to share their stories, fight stigma, educate the community, and advocate for others. Other hashtags like #mentalhealth and #mentalhealthmatters, have each been viewed millions and billions of times. Increasingly, with in-person appointments rare, more therapists are also joining the app to use the dedicated hashtag, making it transparent that while they’re not there to diagnose specific problems, they want to provide as much advice, tips, and “lighthearted information” that serves as educational entertainment and as a way to keep young users’ hope alive during a difficult time. Dr. Julie Smith (@drjuliesmith), who has 970K followers, joined the platform last fall when she didn’t see too many mental health professionals on the app, and has been especially active during the COVID era. Other therapists like Dr. David Puder (@dr.davidpuder) and Dr. Marquis Norton (@drnortontherapy), who have both gained thousands of followers, have also joined to give young users hope and assist in dispelling COVID myths.
It’s no secret that pandemic has heavily impacted Gen Z and Millennials’ finances. YPulse’s exclusive COVID data found that 78% of Millennials have taken actions because of the virus. Because many of them don’t have the money to hire a financial advisor, the app has turned into a helpful free resource for them with many advisors starting their own accounts to reach those young users. While it still remains a “relatively niche” subject on the app, it has been growing. Since June, the #investing hashtag racked up 353 million views, while other iterations (including #investingtips, #realestateinvesting, and #investing101) have added up to millions more. Videos on promoting day trading and “get rich” quick tips, which professional financial advisors have expressed concern over, are especially popular. But other trending content provides basic information: certified public accountant Ashley Brambila (@ash.brambila), has thousands of followers, speaks on debt and savings. Others have provided advice on what Roth 401(k) plans are and how to open accounts, and how to save up for retirement. Some finance-focused users, like Ryan Francis (@themoneyceo) has thousands of followers, have prefaced on their bios that they aren’t certified financial advisors or planners, but are well-versed in the topic, and make videos about their own financial journey to help others.
YPulse’s COVID-19 special report on hobbies and pastimes in quarantine found that 63% of 13-39-year-olds are cooking more at home because of Coronavirus. This has led to a surge of new food and bev trends, many being shared on TikTok and other social apps. Hashtags like #quickrecipes and #FavoriteRecipe have garnered billions of views as young users post their home cooking ideas, and watch others’ tips and hacks. The demand for at-home bartending and live social food classes has resulted in many chefs joining TikTok to interact with their younger fanbase. Tabitha Brown, for instance, is a vegan influencer who went viral for her quick vegan recipes, cooking tips, playful moments with her family, and words of wisdom and positivity. She’s recently been signed with CAA and has been tapped by Ellen Digital Network for a new web series.
But she isn’t the only one. Private chef Adam Witt (@omnivorousadam) wanted to create cooking content to “entertain, educate, and inspire” his more than 184K TikTok followers. His videos have featured how to “easily” carbonate fruit, churn butter from scratch, and how to arrange SPAM Musubi. Chef Vivian Aronson (@cookingbomb) and alum of reality competition MasterChef, has gained a lot of recent attention for her “animated cooking tutorials” on the platform. With her “cartoon-like” sound effects, she instructs her more than 715K followers how to make recipes like bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, whipped coffee boba tea, and matcha mille crepe cakes. Even some food service workers like Maya Smith (@starbucksrecipeswithm), a Starbucks employee who has garnered more than 2 million followers, has gone viral for making drinks at home while unable to work in-store due to COVID. Her most viewed video is a Skittles Frappuccino, which has more than 33 million views.
As students all over the world continue to learn from home (YPulse’s Gen Z’s Education Interrupted report found that 81% of middle and high school students are remote learning), teachers have started getting on TikTok to connect more with students—whether giving educational advice or just lifting their spirits during this difficult time. One teacher, @Ms_Ryan, used the popular #YouGotIt hashtag, to list all the ways that she says “you got it” to her students, from giving advice to using preferred pronouns. Math teachers have been using the hashtags #algebra and #mathematics (which both have accumulated millions of views) to give out tips on the SATs, data visualizations, and other academic tips. To make the content more “exciting” and “fun,” many of the educators have included choreography, skits, or even memes in their videos. Rory Yakubov (@iteachalgebra) is one of the teachers who recently joined and is using comedic clips to help emphasize her lessons. The need for academic tips has also created a rise in a niche group of “math influencers” who have been filling the app with equations, testing help, and even personal finance advice.
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