TikTokHow universities can use TikTok – your questions answered (part one)

How universities can use TikTok – your questions answered (part one)

Universities use TikTok to engage with students

Deciding an overall strategy, enhancing student engagement, how to pick your music and more

The inaugural THE x TikTok masterclass prompted a large number of university staff to think about how their institutions can use the platform to reach students like never before. In the first in a two-part series, TikTok answers your questions.

Do you have any recommendations for creating a TikTok strategy for universities?

University content on TikTok should feature a mix of academic and non-academic content. Your academic content can be bite-sized and about quirky or interesting topics that focus on your areas of expertise, which allows you to stay on-brand.

In our opinion, non-academic content is where the real engagement opportunities lie. This should be focused on the student experience and other services that your university provides, for example, well-being support and careers advice.

It’s good practice to involve your student body in this type of content creation, as it can make the content more relatable to existing and prospective students, as well as showcase an authentic representation of life at the university.

“If you look at our account as a whole, for the most part, what you’re going to see is student experience,” said Sheena Doyle, communications manager at the University of Limerick, speaking at the recent THE x TikTok masterclass about how Limerick strengthens its engagement with students.

How can TikTok be used to market and teach modules to students in higher education?

When utilising TikTok to showcase the most interesting and quirky topics from your university’s areas of expertise, academics often outline interesting facts in a bite-sized manner and use functionality such as TikTok’s green screen effect to illustrate points visually.

TikTok doesn’t recommend using its platform to teach modules. Instead, university staff can showcase exciting snippets from a class or a curriculum to pique the curiosity of students and spur them to further explore modules and other opportunities the university offers.

How can universities break out of the corporate mould to create engaging content that students relate to while staying on-brand?

This boils down to showcasing your university’s brand differently from how you are required to on other platforms. TikTok recommends that universities avoid using logos or other brand assets. Instead, let academic expertise and student experience speak for themselves.

Students are often very strong brand advocates for universities, so they may mention which university they are from and may wear branded merchandise in their content. Allowing students to showcase their experience and outline the various aspects of life at university places the university’s brand front and centre without being overly corporate. Videos should follow a conversational and participatory style to help ensure this.

How can universities create subject-specific content on one TikTok account? Does TikTok’s audience mind seeing content for different subjects?

Most video views take place on TikTok’s “For You” page, where users often do not know the kind of content a profile creates. It is also likely that users viewing your content on the “For You” page will not have interacted with your university’s account in the past.

How often should universities post on their TikTok feed?

This depends on each university’s content creation capabilities. Quality over quantity is the most important factor when it comes to content, but consistency is important, too. TikTok recommends posting about three to four times a week in the initial stages and then scaling up to about one post a day.

TikTok is led by short-term trends. How can universities engage viewers over a long period of time?

Trends are definitely a big thing on TikTok, but it’s important to bear in mind that the life cycle of videos on the platform is usually 30 to 90 days. It’s highly possible for your university’s posts to consistently engage with the audience during that period.

Posting consistently is a key way to ensure that your university is actively engaging users. For educational content, partaking in fast-moving trends is not always a necessity as the audience tends to increase over time organically and authentically.

TikTok recommends that universities use TikTok’s live functionality and conduct regular drop-in sessions with students, where universities can address their concerns, common questions and build more inclusive and participatory relationships with their cohort. This also helps to build long-term engagement with students.

Is TikTok successful with international university applicants? Are particular countries highly engaged in the comments and interactions?

TikTok has a highly engaged and diverse user base wherever in the world it operates, making it popular among international students.

How can universities access music and sounds without breaching copyright?

Once a university creates its TikTok account, it should immediately follow the steps below to switch from a “personal” account to a “business” one.

Go to: Settings and privacy > Manage account > Switch to pro account > Business. Then choose the correct category and you’re all set.

Once done, universities will automatically be granted access to TikTok’s Commercial Music Library. All sounds featured in the Commercial Music Library are fully licensed so users do not need to worry about breaching copyright.

Sign up for TikTok here and find out more about the self-service TikTok Ads Manager platform.

Read part two of the series.

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