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Insights from the industry

How can universities & colleges engage students through TikTok?

How can universities & colleges engage students through TikTok?

Posted on December 5, 2019 by Cristina Rodriguez

 “If Gen Z is a target demographic and your brand is not on TikTok, you may be missing out” (Hootsuite)

There is so much and yet so little information out there about TikTok that I’ve decided to summarise the key points that are relevant to FE & HE marketers.

I have to be honest, it took me some time to “get it”. Short-form silly-viral mobile videos with the “mission to inspire creativity and bring joy”. If you like me are not part of the generation Z, I’m sure you experience some sort of frustration the first time that you open up the app (not sure what was more frustrating the music or the actual content of the videos). I gave myself some time and went back to look at it with a marketers eyes and saw it from a completely different perspective. With an older audience moving to Facebook/Instagram, a younger audience has found in TikTok the best platform to share their creativity

Why should you care?

We all know that student ambassadors are key for FE & HE institutions. TikTok went as far as hiring TikTok ambassadors targeting colleges and universities with different campaigns looking for the “cool students” with the aim to increase app usage and it did not disappoint. TikTok claims to have more than 1 Billion users (App downloads), it actually reached 1 billion users faster than any other social media app, yes faster than Facebook. Snapchat hasn’t even got there yet.

Key Stats:

  • TikTok is not just for US & China. It currently has 5.4M Monthly active users in UK and is available in 155 countries & in 75 languages
  • 41% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24 (Global Web Index)
  • In the UK the average user spends 53 minutes per day on TikTok
  • 90% of all TikTok users access the app on a daily basis

Key facts:

  • There is no need to create a profile. It is powered by AI to identify what you like, create your profile (behaviour) and show you relevant content. This tempts users to create and watch more videos, spending more time on the platform and even getting addicted – It just keeps showing you videos without having to wait for your family and friends to post something
  • You may have seen lots of TikTok Videos shared on Twitter, Facebook and Even LinkedIn. It is because you can re-post TikTok videos into other social Media channels (similar to YouTube)
  • Most TikTok videos are made by normal people (majority younger generation) which is a great opportunity for FE & HE marketers
  • TikTok is driven by user generated challenges that advertisers can participate in

Using TikTok to Recruit?

Whilst there are a very small number of UK universities and colleges with a TikTok presence or TikTok account (there are some institutions that have an account. However, don’t have any content or followers yet). It seems like the British Army was the first to see the potential of TikTok, and it has started using the platform to recruit youngsters. Both the British Army & The Guards having an account.

Here are some examples of the content and messages they are promoting:

https://www.tiktok.com/@the_guards

https://www.tiktok. com/@britisharmyengagement 

Where are the Colleges and Universities?

It’s safe to say that most colleges and universities are still evaluating whether or not they have the resources to manage another social media account and obviously whether it is worth the effort.

Others may just be thinking that it is just for influencers. We would argue that is not the case, for instance TikTok is becoming more and more educational with some doctors using it to educate teens.

Below are some examples of the University of Limerick using TikTok to great effect

https://www.tiktok.com/@uoflimerick

126.3K likes – Not bad is it?

https://www.tiktok.com/@uoflimerick/video/6729412487206194437

On top of all the organic ideas that you may already have, it is important to mention the paid for options that TikTok offers that we can help you with.

To Lift your brand:

  • Brand Takeover – 5s max – Image or Video
  • In-Feed Native Video – 9/15 s (max 60s) – Video
  • Top View – 60s max – Video

To Drive Brand Engagement:

  • Hashtag Challenges
  • Branded Effects

Your students are using TikTok and they are interacting with your other students and your potential students. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Music is deeply imbedded – use trendy music
  • Challenge your students
  • All videos should be vertical (or edited) for vertical viewing
  • Don’t worry about big productions – Most videos are home made. keep it authentic and real
  • Attention grabbing content (for your target audience – not for you)
  • Ideal run time 10 – 17s
  • Check the trend and follow the trend with your own spin on it

And last but not least always make sure you experiment!

To find out more about Educate can help you begin your TikTok journey and recruit more students contact us below

Contact our team today