Healthcare Professionals Turned Influencers

The healthcare professionals educating people on social media [and doing it well!] An influencer is an individual with a significant following, who uses their popularity and platform to influence their followers into sharing a certain belief, travelling to a specific location, or purchasing a product or service. Using these individuals for marketing purposes is becoming an increasingly popular practice, and is aptly known in the world of digital marketing as ‘influencer marketing’.

The most popular and well known influencers are usually in the fashion & beauty, travel, or sports & fitness industries – however influencer marketing has become so popular you can generally find an influencer for any industry or niche.

It is becoming increasingly common for people with a more academic or professional background to turn to social media in order to share knowledge on their specialist topic. The sharing of educational content on social platforms has skyrocketed recently; with 79% of customers looking to social media to answer specific healthcare related questions, many doctors, and other medical professionals are using social platforms to share opinions on topics, debunk or confirm myths, and comment on current affairs in the industry.

The following is a look at some of the Doctors and medical professionals who have been highly successful at doing exactly this.

The Mac Twins, Lisa & Alana Instagram: @thegutstuff [127k followers]
TikTok: @thegutstuff [481 followers]

After growing tired of fad diets, and learning more about their microbiome following their involvement in twin studies at King’s College London, The Mac Twins began their journey to educate the general public on their gut health – and how this can impact their general health and wellness.

With an info-packed website, several events and conferences held all over the world, and even a TV series on channel 4, their social media is only part of their education empire – and yet it is having a huge impact.

With an impressive 127k following on Instagram, and a growing presence on TikTok the Mac Twins and their team of nutritionists, dieticians and doctors are using the social platforms to share their knowledge on the microbiome, and encourage their followers to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Doctor Karan Rajan Instagram: @drkaranrajan [659k followers]
TikTok: @dr.karanr [5.1m followers]

An NHS Surgeon by day, Dr Karan Rajan spends his evenings and spare time creating videos about health, science and medicine – specialising mostly in debunking misinformation and myths in the aforementioned fields.

Amassing over 5 million followers on TikTok alone, Dr Karan stitches videos of the general public making scientific claims, and either confirms or denies their claims by taking viewers through the science behind them. With misinformation and fake news at an all time high, Dr Rajan’s educational platform helps the layman navigate the medical information they find online – and get a better understanding of how to differentiate the truth from the myth.

Doctor Shonna Gaskin Instagram: @shonnamissymehd [5164 followers]
TikTok: @shonnamissymehd [169.2k followers]

An anaesthesiology resident physician, Dr. Shonna Gaskin aims to share information on the process of applying to and making it through medical school to guide students hoping to follow the healthcare path.

Using trending sounds or music on TikTok, Dr. Gaskin creates engaging videos that are both fun & entertaining, and also educational & informative. The popular videos are short informative snippets that provide aspiring medical students with the tips, tricks and ‘life hacks’ they need to get through their medical school journey.

Doctor Mike Varshavski Instagram: @doctor.mike [4.5m followers]
TikTok: @doctormike [2m followers]

Now a board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Mike Varshavski started documenting his residency journey, and all that he was learning during this time on social media. Quickly earning a mass following in the millions, Dr. Varshavski uses his platform to highlight the importance of health literacy, and battling misinformation.

On both TikTok and Instagram, Dr Varshavski interviews celebrities and influencers about their specialist topics, or medical experiences to share knowledge and spread awareness. Sharing snippets of these interviews across his social media platforms, has not only his followers, but the followers of his interviewees flocking to his platforms to learn about what they have to say. His videos normalise the speaking out about what can be classed as ‘controversial’ or difficult to talk about topics such as mental health, or eating disorders, and can help viewers battle their own demons through the relatable clips.

Doctor Emeka Okorocha Instagram: @doctor.emeka [88.2k followers]
TikTok: @doctor.emeka [251.7k followers]

Rising to fame during the Covid-19 pandemic, A&E Doctor Emeka Okorocha became the go-to source on social media for healthcare advice and support. Sharing medical tips, workout ideas, and nutrition advice – Doctor Okorocha’s social media hub is a great source of information for all things health related.

What social media tactics are they using to boost their engagements? Each of the above medical professionals have built a large following for themselves across several social media platforms; while they each have their own unique form of content creation, there are similar tactics that each of the medical influencers use on their platforms that have helped them amass that following.

Jumping on trends A few weeks back Kourtney Kardashain started a social media storm by announcing her pregnancy to partner Travis Barker by holding up a sign during his concert. This quickly became a sensation on social media, with several people taking the sign and making their own ‘meme’ like creation to boost engagement on their platforms. The Gut Stuff also jumped on this trend, taking the picture and altering the text to say:

‘Travis, I need some high fibre snacks, I’m pregnant’

The posts amassed them almost 50% more likes than what their usual static posts gained.

Doctor Shonna Gaskin has also been known to use trending sounds and music to help boost her videos across social media, particularly on TikTok. There are several videos on Doctor Gaskin’s TikTok where she uses popular sounds or music, takes part in trending dances and then makes use of the on-screen text to share her educational information. Many businesses and influencers use this method of gaining views, and engagements with their content; Dr Gaskin has known to gain more than 500k views, 100k+ likes, as well as over 300 saves, and 2k+ shares for such videos.

Stitching other popular videos Dr. Karan Rajan frequently ‘stitches’ other peoples videos on TikTok, and confirms or denies their claims using science. ‘Stitching’ is when your TikTok video begins with a short snippet from someone else’s video, and then you contribute your own opinion, or add to the content through filming your own video. When people watch these popular videos, TikTok is more likely to have stitches of these videos appearing on their timeline. Dr Rajan has used this to boost his engagements, and increase his popularity on the TikTok platform.

On the screenshot below, the videos that do not begin with a still of Dr Karan Rajan’s face, are stitched videos.

Influencer marketing Can influencers also use influencer marketing to promote themselves? Well why not? This is something Doctor Mike does extremely well, inviting celebrities or other influencers on his podcast to talk about their profession, or their past health experiences. One of his more recent videos featured TikTok star Kris HC [@kallmekris], and some of those podcast snippets amassed more than 1 million views each, with one reaching 2.7 million views and 238.1k likes*.

The future of influencer marketing in health & wellness Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular across a multitude of industries. Using clever tactics, and quickly taking part in social media trends, the above medical professionals have built themselves a large online presence, allowing them to adopt the ‘influencer’ persona.

Healthcare professionals sharing their knowledge and expertise online is helping to curb the plethora of fake news and misinformation the general public are exposed to, and gives them a platform to confirm or refute information if they are not sure where else to look.

As the field of influencer marketing expands, and finds its way into more specific and unique niches, brands need to harness this power and use it to their advantage. And if you are an expert in a unique area of health and wellness, and are unable to find much information about your field online, perhaps there is room for you to delve into the world of influencer marketing; why not try using some of the above tactics to grow your following, and start on the path to becoming an influencer yourself.

*Author note: all follower counts are accurate at the time of writing and publishing