Amongst the dancing duos and lip-syncing harmonies is a booming health and wellness community on the fastest growing social media platform of all – TikTok. After lockdowns began, health professionals including dietitians, trainers, therapists, and the like flocked to the social media app as a way to capitalize on their business or share their wealth of knowledge in a trendy way.
Although it was conceived as a music app, TikTok culture quickly cracked nearly every sector of business and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So what will this mean for the health and wellness application and sphere?
Find out how TikTok’s health and wellness influencers are shaking things up and whether or not their advice is legitimate.
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is the video-sharing social network site dominating digital communities and crafty entrepreneurs. For pure entertainment or capital gain, users can create short, musically-inclined videos.
Initially released to the Chinese market in 2016 under the name Douyin, in 2017 it merged with an American app called musical.ly, where adolescents recorded and shared lip-sync videos. The application currently amuses over 500 million monthly active users and has been downloaded over a billion times since launching.
At first, users could sing, dance, comedically entertain or lip-sync their favorite songs, but it frequently develops new features and modifications that only popularize it more. Now, similar to other social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, users can follow each other and like, comment, react and share posted videos.
Not only is the mobile app highly engaging and amusing, but it is also much easier for users to go viral.
While TikTok is not so different from sister social networking apps and media platforms, it has inspired a sort of culture and changed the course of its industry. Its main differentiating factor is its inherent and synchronistic community focus.
Whereas other social platforms rely on comments and likes, TikTok relies on real-time interaction, which makes people feel connected. Indeed, research shows that fostering connections the way TikTok encourages is not so dissimilar from the way mirror neurons fire up when mimicking one another.
Furthermore, many people are content to forgo apps like Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram, but TikTok has successfully retained many of its users also thanks to its special features such as tall videos (not square), the ability to scroll up and down rather than tapping or side to side sliding, sounds to score videos, response duet videos, and most notable – their various challenges, jokes, and repetitive format videos that provide a sense of community.
And more than any other social media app, celebrities and stars are not the only ones posting videos that reach millions of likes, hits, and shares. Many believe this is due to their unique algorithm, which features a “For You” page upon opening the app. Rather than showcasing friends and the people one already follows, TikTok is always suggesting new and more people to interact with based on preferences it gathers.
Furthermore, a New York Times article suggests that TikTok makes large audiences feel within reach and small ones easy to find. Plus, because the app encourages users to jump from audience to audience and trend to trend, it creates temporary friend groups that receive instant and abundant feedback.
Influencers and Media Sharing
So how does this TikTok culture affect the health and wellness industry?
Well, it certainly makes health and wellness information more accessible than ever. But it also poses a risk of unqualified app users spreading misinformation. More accessibility is progressive and fundamentally good, but if the information is not truthful, this poses problems.
Yet, many users have positive intentions and simply want to share their reservoir of health and wellness knowledge. A psychologist specializing in social media behavior believes that TikTok has the power to do more good than harm, as long as users approach their feeds with a healthy dose of scrutiny.
In summary, be skeptical of folks sharing dicey information such as skinny teas, water fasts, juice cleanses, and ways to lose seven pounds in one day, and search for reputable health practitioners that lead with well-researched and evidence-based information.
Health and Wellness Hashtags
Unless a video streams viral, the easiest way to seek the health and wellness content is through hashtags – one to a few words after the number symbol (#) that indicate a topic or niche per se. Initially intended for Twitter, they quickly immersed their way into Facebook, Instagram, and now TikTok.
According to a TikTok hashtag generator, 10 of the top most popular ones include:
TikTok stormed into social media aficionados’ lives right from its inception due to its collaborative, unique, and entertaining nature. More than other social media platforms, TikTok fosters a less competitive and more authentic environment, which people greatly appreciate.
Initially intended for amusing dance and lip-sync videos, it quickly infused into the health and wellness industry, offering all kinds of health professionals to share their input in creative and captivating ways. While many leading users want to genuinely spread helpful information, there are outliers spewing misinformation, so use friendly skepticism when choosing what information to digest.
Whether one is seeking healthy breakfast ideas, quick dinner ideas, or tips for how to build a better relationship with food, it is definitely on TikTok, and this platform shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Faith J. How Dietitians Are Using TikTok In A Positive Way. Nutrition with Jordan. Published June 16, 2020. www.jordan-faith.com/dietitians-on-tiktok/.
Herrman J. How TikTok Is Rewriting the World. The New York Times. Published March 10, 2019. www.nytimes.com/2019/03/10/style/what-is-tik-tok.html.
How TikTok Became the New Face of Social Media for 2021: Features: Social Media. MN2S. Published January 11, 2021. mn2s.com/news/social-media-management/tiktok-social-medias-next-evolution/.
Keselj M. The Future Is TikTok. Harvard Political Review. Published October 7, 2020. harvardpolitics.com/the-future-is-tiktok/.
McPhillips K. Wellness on TikTok Is Booming-and Choreographed Dances Don’t Even Scratch the Surface. Well+Good. Published April 17, 2020. www.wellandgood.com/wellness-on-tiktok/.