While social media has become a driving force in higher education marketing, there’s only one social platform that has earned recent buzz. With its ever-growing audience and high rates of user engagement, TikTok is becoming an increasingly important tool for enrollment marketers to build their university’s brand.
Why? Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of using the app is that more than half of TikTok users make up the demographic of potential and current students—aged 18–24 years old. The popular video-sharing app is used by these students every day, sharing and viewing short-form videos, participating in challenges, and engaging with other users.
TikTok plays a significant role in higher education as universities use the platform to connect with students and create a sense of community. Before a university can begin incorporating TikTok into their marketing and enrollment strategies, marketing and admissions teams need to understand how to use the app, stay up-to-date on the platform’s latest trends, know how to create their own branded hashtags, identify social trending challenges current students can participate in, and set realistic enrollment goals.
If you’re hoping to increase enrollment through an effective social media strategy, here are five universities successfully leveraging TikTok to promote their brand.
5 Examples of Universities with Successful TikTok Strategies
1. University of Tennessee
With 12.5k followers and over 75k likes to their page, the University of Tennessee’s TikTok account receives a high level of engagement with their content. Focusing on student and academic life, the University of Tennessee successfully engages with current and prospective students through their video content. These videos prioritize campus life, student interviews, and academic resources. Their account also displays informative and interactive posts using current trends, sounds, and hashtags.
For example, in the post below the University of Tennessee’s account highlights a popular spot on campus using a social trend. As a result, the University of Tennessee is able to connect with its students on a social level, as well as target prospective students by highlighting campus culture and student life with a commonly searched trend on the app.
The University of Tennessee also has a football team TikTok account that has gained popularity with a following of 355.8k and 4.0M overall likes. This content mainly focuses on how the players spend their free time. While this account might be of interest to prospective students interested in playing football in college—or an avid fan—this type of content mainly targets current students who want to stay updated on their school’s team.
With these two pages, the University of Tennessee’s TikTok strategy targets both prospective students and current ones with fun, informative content.
2. University of Florida
The University of Florida’s TikTok account currently has 111.0k followers and 1.6M likes. Most of their content is centered around campus events and life at UF. By showcasing their sunny campus, exciting student life, rigorous academics, and competitive athletics, UF’s is able to achieve their goal of engaging current students and encouraging prospective students to apply. They too use trending audio and hashtags with most of their videos, which consistently receive more than 10,000 views.
One of UF’s most viewed videos is of a student and campus safety officer participating in a popular trend on social media at the time. While fun and lighthearted, the video ultimately reminded students not to steal campus property and encouraged them to purchase from the campus bookstore. This messaging reached almost 600k students and was more effective than a campus-wide email. Overall, UF’s TikTok strategy showcases real student experiences and presents them in simple, 30-second videos.
3. University of Alabama
The University of Alabama’s TikTok account currently has 48.5k followers and 350.6k likes. Their posts largely feature athletics as well as their mascot Big Al. Though student and campus life is shown, the main focus is on sports—specifically football. Despite the fact that their videos differ from what other universities are posting, their strategy remains very similar to its competitors.
Alabama’s TikTok content catches the attention of many by creating videos that provide a sense of who they are and what they represent. Each post has a caption and text within the video itself, using popular sounds or TikTok trends to keep up with TikTok’s algorithm and ensure students are engaged with the content. The University of Alabama has seen many of their TikTok posts go “viral” with this strategy. For example, the video above shows Alabama’s highest viewed video on TikTok with about 600k views and 73k likes.
4. University of Georgia
Compared to other universities in this list, the University of Georgia has taken a different approach to their TikTok strategy. Rather than creating content that focuses on their campus, student life, and academics, UGA largely highlights their football team and athletics on their TikTok page. With a following of 47.3k and a total of over 400k likes, UGA has strongly appealed to both their current student and athletics fan population.
Since football is a huge part of their campus culture, UGA’s page mostly targets students who take an interest in the university’s football team. Though their content differs from their competitors, it does not mean that their content strategy isn’t working. Even while targeting this more specific audience, each video receives over 10k views.
5. University of Michigan
The University of Michigan’s TikTok page currently has 31.6k followers and 500.9k likes. Their content often uses comedy to showcase UMich’s campus and student life. This approach has largely contributed to their high rates of student engagement on their video content. To distinguish their videos from other universities in prospective students’ feeds, each post uses text descriptions in the school colors—yellow and blue—as well as in the captions. Some examples of these captions include, “Snowing Our New Wolverines Around Campus,” and “When Someone Says There’s Nothing to do in Ann Arbor on The Weekends,” which reference UMich’s mascot and locations on campus to further promote the school’s brand.
Each video features a student or a group of students who represent what it’s like to be a part of the UMich community. Using silly trends and funny popular audio in each post helps create this type of comedic content for prospective students to learn more about the campus and student life. While UMich’s TikTok account has fewer followers than some of the other universities on this list, they consistently create intriguing and relatable content for their students to engage with.
The gathered information above suggests that higher education institutions should be using TikTok as an effective marketing tool. By using trends and popular sounds, posting consistent content, and incorporating students, campus life, academics and sports, it will increase engagement with current and prospective students. Whether you hope to build a strong community or increase future enrollment, TikTok is an effective way to showcase campus life and achieve your goals.