Not on the TikTok Bandwagon? It Might Be Time to Start!

Posted: November 30, 2022

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Of all the social media platforms, TikTok may be the most intimidating. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, higher ed institutions can basically stick with the same content, adjusting slightly for each platform. TikTok, however, demands its own attention and its own style, different from all other platforms.

But, many marketers believe TikTok is here to stay, and it’s important for higher education institutions to get on board.

Why? According to Hootsuite, TikTok was downloaded over 656 million times in 2021 and has been the most downloaded ap for three years in a row. And, viewers in the United States spend roughly 27 hours a month watching videos on TikTok. Statisa states that, as of April 2022, 41% of users are 18 to 24 years old. That is a huge marketplace of potential students that colleges can interact with in the more authentic way that Gen Z likes to be reached.

What is TikTok Anyway? And Why Do I Need to Do Anything Differently?

TikTok is a video-sharing app that strives to have user-generated content (UGC) in the form of vertical videos to interact with each other. While originally videos were only able to be 15 seconds in length, now users can post videos up to ten minutes long. The sweet spot for videos is still somewhere in the :15- to :30-second length, though, so while the power for longer videos is there, that is not generally what the platform is meant for and longer videos may deter viewers.

But it’s the type of video that is the most different between platforms. Ads that are made for Facebook, Instagram, and even traditional media don’t work well on TikTok. This means that, even if you repurpose photos or ad content from other brands, you’re going to have to present it in another way.

What’s a college to do, then? After all, according to this directory, there aren’t a lot of higher ed institutions as models. With over 4,000 options for potential students out there, the lack of competition on TikTok may be a great way to communicate and engage with students before everyone else migrates over.

Our client partners’ ads consistently rank in the top percentile of TikTok content.

So, you want to try TikTok, but you don’t know where to start, right?

First – don’t stress. TikTok is definitely something that takes a little understanding if you’re not in Gen Z. All that means is you’re going to need to do your homework. Claim your university’s name on TikTok and then start looking. Not just at higher ed institutions and what they are doing, but look at everything. What’s going viral? What sounds are they using? How are people interacting with different videos? What are the trends people are following? All of these questions are important to understand. So, if you don’t want to jump right in, just watch and take notes.

TikTok users are looking for authentic interactions. Neal Schaffer states, “As a result, TikTok is an exceedingly informal platform — coming across as too professional or salesy won’t sit well with your viewers. So, even though you may maintain a very professional appearance on Instagram, you’ll probably want to tone it down a bit and get silly for TikTok.” You need to look no further than the Washington Post’s TikTok channel to understand the difference between other social media platforms and TikTok.

TikTok allows institutions to be funny and entertaining in a way that they maybe can’t be on other platforms. Being imperfect on TikTok is expected, and it’s okay. Shaky video, edits not exactly lined up with the music’s beat – all of that is okay on TikTok. 

TikTok is a place for discovery. According to Nielsen,  88% of TikTok users love discovering new content, and 52% say they find new products on TikTok. They want to see new things and experience new places. And they just want to see it authentically, without being sold to.

So watch what other users are doing and … jump on the bandwagon! Take a shot at a trending video, answer questions for incoming students, give a super-quick tour of campus. Basically, anything. As long as it’s authentic.

TikTok users are looking for authentic interactions.

Want a Place to Start?

One of the top questions we’ve gotten in 2022 is, “What creative is performing best on TikTok?” Our favorite answer? VisionPoint creative! Some of our clients are seeing huge numbers on TikTok and they’re even being recognized for it by TikTok business. One of NOVA’s ads illustrates the power of utilizing organic creative on this channel specifically. This piece of creative is listed as the top 1% industry average for clicks and the top 6% of industry average conversions over the past 180 days.

We encourage you to take some time and browse the channels below. Some are VisionPoint’s client partners, some are other colleges, and some aren’t colleges at all. But each of them is doing something great that is causing their content to be seen by many! What are some of the things they’re doing right?

  • Posting a variety of content.
  • Following trends.
  • UGC-style video.
  • Fast, exciting transitions.
  • High energy.
  • Using sound as integral to the video.
  • Instructional videos.
  • Q&A responses.

TikTok Users to Start With (in no particular order)

Work with us:

TikTok is a great way to reach new potential students and interact in an authentic way. Interested in how advertising on social media can help your enrollment goals?  We’ve spent the last 21 years in higher ed marketing and would love to consult with you on solving these challenges together. Contact our Vice President Dana Cruikshank or fill out the form below for a free consultation call.

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