NEW YORK—No doubt about it, 2020 is a year for the history books in countless different ways. Among the many culturally significant changes 2020 has brought us, the rise of TikTok as one of the world’s most popular and powerful social media channels is hard to ignore. Once a semi-niche video-sharing platform for teens and Gen-Z, TikTok is now one of the world’s most popular social channels, with over 200 million monthly active users, according to Statista. SocialMediaToday reported that the app is projected to reach one billion users in 2021.

With people spending more and more time indoors, they also seem to be spending more and more time online—including on TikTok. The app is home to all kinds of content, from music, fashion and dance to health and more. As VMail Weekend covered, many ECPs have found TikTok to be a useful platform, using it to connect with patients and to spread important eyecare information to those who need it.

The number of ECPs who use the platform has grown since the summer, and those who’ve been using it for a while now have seen an increase in their stats as well. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, who VMAIL profiled in July, is taking a momentary break from TikTok with plans to start again in the new year—but his account is holding steady at over 11,000 followers who tune in to see his eyecare content.

This summer, VMAIL Weekend reported on the follower count of some of TikTok’s most popular optical creators. At that point, Rupa Wong, MD, an ophthalmologist at Honolulu Eye Clinic in Honolulu had over 37,000 followers on her TikTok account, where she creates content about LASIK, contact lenses, her experiences as a person of color, and more.

Vicki Chan, MD, an ophthalmologist in Los Angeles, has been using her account, with nearly 65,000 followers to discuss COVID-19 information, while Jennifer Tsai, OD, in New York City, uses her account to educate her 40,000+ followers on running a small business, what it’s like to be an optometrist, and other eye health tips. Today, Dr. Wong has more than 68,000 followers, Dr. Chan has grown to over 157,000 followers and Dr. Tsai now has over 100,000 followers on the app. The large growth in such a short period of time shows TikTok’s popularity—but it also displays that there is an audience for eye health content online, even (and perhaps especially) among younger Millennials and Gen Z, who make up the bulk of the app’s user base.

Larger optical companies are also using TikTok as a place to advertise, particularly to younger Millennials and Gen Z customers. Earlier this year, Luxottica’s Ray-Ban rolled out a partnership with the app, making it one of the first brands to test TikTok’s new advertising offering. Similar to advertising through Instagram influencers, Ray-Ban partnered with TikTok creators, who created videos with the company’s products. TikTok then promoted the videos, which linked back to the Ray-Ban website.

Brand campaigns on TikTok are massively powerful. The company recently shared its most creative brand campaigns of the year, which include a heartfelt campaign from Virgin Media, the #MyRoots Black History Month campaign, eBay’s #StrongerAsOne campaign, an influencer-based campaign from makeup brand Too Faced, and many more.

Most notably, the list included Ray-Ban’s “You’re On” campaign, which utilized TikTok’s Gamified Branded Effect. The Effect allows users to “use facial expressions, body postures, or other motions, to control and interact with branded elements,” Campaign Live reported. Ray-Ban was the first brand in Europe to launch a Gamified Branded Effect campaign across the region.

CooperVision also partnered with TikTok creators this year, including some of the popular ECPs listed above. The campaign mainly centered on myopia and myopia in children, and the hashtag #CooperVisionPartner, which all creators who were a part of the campaign used, now has over 6 million views on TikTok.

Despite a year filled with questions and uncertainty, there’s one thing that seems to be for sure: TikTok is a land of opportunity for ECPs, brands and more—and it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Luke Trotman, a reality TV star from the UK’s popular show Love Island, was a part of Ray-Ban’s TikTok Gamified Branded Effect campaign this year. Luke has over a million followers on the app. Image via lukettrotman on TikTok.

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, is a popular ECP TikTok creator. He partnered with CooperVision on the company’s myopia campaign this year. Image via brighteyestampa on TikTok.

Carly Rose, OD who practices at Eyecare on the Square in Cincinnati, Ohio originally convinced Dr. Nate to give TikTok a try. She now has over 180,000 followers on the app. Image via drrose on TikTok.

Rupa Wong, MD, recently covered every contact user’s fear on her account. Image via drrupawong on TikTok.