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How universities can use TikTok for recruitment and admissions

How universities can use TikTok for recruitment and admissions

Posted by Dave Musson Picture of Dave Musson on May 19, 2021

It’s not just about lip-synching any more.

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the last year, you’ll have encountered TikTok. The platform has boomed, with visits up almost 600% in 2020 compared to the year before. In fact, its rise has been quite the ride.

Even if you’re not on TikTok yourself, you will have still almost certainly seen content created there. It’s booming and, understandably, universities and colleges want to be involved too.

As is always the way when higher ed dips its toes into an emerging social channel, there are no hard and fast rules to follow, or streamlined paths to success. More often than not, you’ve simply got to get involved and experiment.

In this article, we’ll offer some general tips about how you might want to approach TikTok to showcase both experience and academic content, as well as look at ways in which you can align your work with your ambassadors on our platform with it.

Universities and TikTok - experience content

TikTok is a place users go to be entertained. Videos are short, snappy, and fun and universities need to bear that in mind.

Because of this, it’s a great place to share content that showcases the experience of life at your campus. That might be quick-fire campus tours, coverage of graduation, and, of course, interviews with your students (more on them later).

For campus tours, go beyond what you might share elsewhere; make use of TikTok’s engaging transition features and snappy video editing functionality to breathe new life into an old format - even a tour of a single building or classroom can become a whole new world on Tik Tok.

For a great example of a TikTok campus tour, check out this from the University of Florida.

For graduation, ride the celebratory waves of those events and really let your hair down. Even better, try and bring in a trend or challenge. TikTok is also heavily trend and challenge-based, so you need to be immersed in the channel and ready to jump onto hot topics.

The University of Limerick did a great job of this by integrating a then-trending hand clap challenge into their graduation coverage.

Other ‘experience’ content you can think about creating for TikTok includes: 

  • DIY hacks 
  • study hacks 
  • student meal ideas 
  • careers advice

Universities and TikTok - academic content

That’s not to say you can’t also share academic content on TikTok - quite the opposite in fact. The platform has become known for its #LearnonTikTok videos, where creators share educational content….a pretty good match for universities, right?

The key things to remember here are to keep videos short, and know that the quirkier and more random the topic, the better

Here’s what TikTok had to say about these sorts of videos in an article with THE:

“We have noticed that #LearnOnTikTok content that is 20 to 40 seconds long performs very well, although we would always advise users to keep videos as short as possible because the aim should be to get viewers to watch videos to completion.

“TikTok recommends that universities create longer content if they feel that the subject matter requires it. The key is not length, but rather how well a video can keep the audience engaged throughout.”

Other things universities wanting to try TikTok should be aware of:

  • When you create your institution’s account, switch it to a ‘business’ account so you can access the correct music library and not risk being in breach of copyright.
  • Use hashtags and stay on top of trends
  • Subtitle your videos
  • Don’t be afraid to try things out
  • Remember that TikTok now offers advertising, which might be a preferable option if you don’t want to maintain an account but still want to target that audience.

For inspiration, check out this excellent directory of universities on TikTok.

Your ambassadors and TikTok

Content featuring students is a create approach for TikTok, and what better students to feature than your ambassadors? If you use an Experience Communication Management (XCM) tool such as The Ambassador Platform to work with your ambassadors, you’ll know exactly who would be good matches for your TikTok content - approach those students and see if they’d like to help you out.

One way of getting more student faces into your TikTok content is to simply point your camera at them and have them answer a simple question, for example, where’s the best place on campus to get lunch, or what time is the library quietest?

If you are a TAP customer, another option is to have your ambassadors share video content through the TAP App that you can then download and repurpose on TikTok. 

So, you might have your ambassadors share short videos about the things they’d wished they’d known before starting studying with you, and you could then share those videos across both your TAP Feed and your TikTok channel. Aside from allowing you to build up a bank of excellent, ambassador-generated content for your channels, using TAP to do this allows you communicate and collaborate with your ambassadors at scale and have complete control over what content you commission, what your publish, and where you publish it.

This example from The University of Sunderland shows perfectly how you can repurpose ambassador-generated content - created and shared through the TAP App - as an engaging TikTok post, with the use of captions and relevant hashtags to make it appropriate for that platform.

Some final thoughts

At the moment, TikTok doesn’t have any integrations with social media management tools, so you wouldn’t be able to use our share to RSS feature to link it with TAP at the moment. 

However, a lot of the benefit of TikTok is actually gained from being in the app itself, so you might get the most benefit from handing over access to your account to your ambassadors and letting them create content for you - just as you might when running takeovers of other social channels.

Your ambassadors would be ideal candidates for this sort of takeover and, of course, they can also point people in the direction of their profiles on your TAP Feed to keep the conversation going long after the TikTok takeover is done.

If you'd like more information on how our platform can you capture and share the experience of life at your campus, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.