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The TikTok Revolution in Higher Education

A lot has been said about why TikTok is the platform of the moment, attracting young (and not so young) creators and audiences alike. Gen Z’s desire for individuality rather than conformity makes it a perfect avenue for creative expression. After years of obsessing over followers and putting out sleek, picture-perfect content, TikTok’s user-friendly tools make any fancy equipment redundant, and allow everyday users to compete even with the platform’s biggest stars.

However, the nature of TikTok presents a level of complexity for brands, especially in Higher Education. The platform favours content that is fun, uplifting and authentic, and while it’s important as a brand to tap into that mood, the challenge is to do it without sacrificing your own identity and voice. If you do, savvy TikTok audiences will see through it, and won’t hesitate to call it out.

How to practically use TikTok in Higher Education

The potential of TikTok is enormous and universities have been using it in a variety of ways. Starting from the most obvious, the ‘LearnOnTikTok’ hashtag is something any university can tap into. The sheer volume of research projects that UK Higher Education Institutes are championing makes this hashtag a great way to share knowledge and involve academics and students alike - not to mention a huge opportunity to promote your brand far and wide!

Among TikTok’s greatest strengths is the sense of community felt by its users. Establishing and nurturing relationships with current and prospective students is always high on every university’s agenda. TikTok content provides a perfect avenue to give your audience a sense of belonging. Whether it’s something that is unique to your student university experience (perfectly embodied by the ‘tell me, without actually telling me’ trend seen across TikTok), or through something unexpected and quirky, there will be plenty to get your followers (and beyond) talking.

Another wonderful side of TikTok videos is how helpful they can be to anyone on their university journey. There are plenty of useful tips, ‘a day in a life’ pieces and video tours across university accounts for example, so the aim here is to make it memorable and perhaps focus on less predictable themes and approaches. The well-timed ‘do’s and don’ts’ can also prove very effective.

Lastly, an absolute must for all TikTok content creators - audience interaction! The magic of TikTok isn’t just fun and edgy content, but also the immediate, honest and hearty reaction that comes with it. It’s the comments section that makes it so brilliantly relatable and it’s paramount this side of the platform is also taken advantage of.

Where the Higher Education sector currently stands on TikTok

We have recently asked members of our Education Advisory Board about their thoughts on the TikTok platform. Although 70% indicated their university had an account, only 30% listed it on their website. The vast majority used TikTok as part of their ‘paid for’ marketing activity. The most common reservations were centered around hitting the right note with content, lack of skills to use it effectively, as well as perception of the platform amongst those who don’t engage with it, also relating to its security. The obstacles to having an effective TikTok presence were most commonly time, resources and creativity-related - staying on top of trends and creating enough content to make their accounts feel used and engaged with.

For all those interested in learning how to tackle all of the above and looking for ways to create engaging content, we will be running a ‘TikTok in Higher Education’ webinar in the Autumn, featuring our in-house TikTok influencers. Message our very own Kornelia Korol to register your interest now.

In the meantime, here are a few TikTok’s from the world of Higher Education that truly warmed our hearts, made us learn something or simply made us chuckle.

See Imperial’s global quiz brought to life by one of their students, advice for new applicants from Reading, a look at one of Sheffield University’s more unique attributes, what it means to graduate from UWL, or thistongue-in-cheek way to announce a university’s TikTok account from Chichester.