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Every year, higher education is challenged with recruiting a new generation. Over the last several years, it was millennials. This time around, it’s Generation Z.

Gen Z and Millennials are different, and it’s not just side parts and skinny jeans. Gen Z views money, brands, and authenticity differently and demands brands share their ideals and create less polished content.

With this shift, Higher Ed will have to reconsider campus beauty shots and talking head videos. Instead, marcomm teams will have to find opportunities to show students in real situations, talking about real issues, and sharing real experiences.

Enter TikTok.

While TikTok is neither the newest nor the most popular social channel, it’s shaping a generation’s content consumption.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a “destination for short-form mobile videos.” It’s like YouTube, except vertical and bite-sized.

This some-what controversial platform is quickly growing in popularity, especially with everyone stuck at home during COVID lockdowns. Currently, there are over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, and 100 million alone in the U.S. TikTok has quickly become a leading platform for trends, influencers, and niche content (Hootsuite).

TikTok Gets Into College

According to a running list of universities on TikTok, Higher Ed institutions are using the platform in hopes of connecting with GenZ by increasing awareness and “connecting and engaging with Gen Z audiences in a fun and relatable way.”

It’s no surprise that universities are paying attention. 41% of TikTok users are between 16 and 24-years-old, a prime demographic for Higher Ed.

So, are you thinking about TikTok for your university or need some inspiration? Here are ten great examples to get you started.

Campus Tours

Indiana University of Bloomington [@iubloomington]

Campus Tours were a hot topic in 2020, specifically how the heck does higher ed shift in-person tours to virtual experiences? Enter IUBloomington and Ryerson University.

@iubloomingtonwelcome to BLOOMING🌸TON♬ Somebody to love Basstrologe Bootleg – mthekyng

IU shows us an example of how a quick video can highlight areas of campus with a catchy song and in a preferred format, vertical video. While Ryerson highlights places around campus and surrounding areas that were featured in TV Shows. Under His Eye, Ryerson.

@ryersonuCatch Ryerson’s neighbourhood in these popular TV shows! 📺 ##ryerson ##ryersonuniversity ##tv ##series ##netflix ##prime ##toronto♬ HARD DRIVING – TopTarGuit

What a great way to bring the campus to life for prospective students!

Athletics

Brigham Young University [@cosmo_cougar]

@cosmo_cougarIf this hits your fyp! Go VOTE FOR ME for Best College Mascot! Link in my bio! #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #backhandspring♬ original sound – Ryanwach

Northern Arizona University [@nauathletics]

@nauathleticsFollow along NAU athlete, Emily Rodabaugh, as she takes us through a day in her life!🏀 #fyp #studentathlete #dayinthelife #northernarizonauniversity♬ Up Beat (Married Life) – Kenyi

Athletics and academics are sometimes inseparable on university campuses and student-athletes, which make up nearly half a million students in the U.S. alone, are sometimes both students and campus influencers. So whether it’s Cosmo the Cougar from the Brigham Young University (BYU) showing off his dance moves or Northern Arizona University shows a day-in-the-life of a student-athlete, TikTok content can be a great way to show how athletics and academics come together.

Campus Health & Safety

University of Florida [@uf]

@ufGator Care Kits now available on campus for students. A face covering and UF ID are required for pick up. Details: welcome.ufl.edu #gatorswearmasks♬ IMAGINATION – Lize Mynhardt

Syracuse University [@syracuseu]

@syracuseustaying safe, it just makes sense! Video Credit: @amandachau15 #fyp #foryou♬ 아무노래(Any song) – kozico0914

Campus health and safety is a priority for students every year, but especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Prospective students are now taking health and safety into consideration before applying. As for current students, you know how hard it is to reach students and get them to pay attention to official university communications. That is why we included the University of Florida’s #GatorsWearMasks and Syracuse University’s wellness kit in our list as great ways to start conversations about health and safety in a fun and engaging way.

Student-Generated Content

University of Limerick [@universityoflimerick]

Student-generated content is one of the most trusted types of content among prospective and current students. At the University of Limerick in Ireland, their “Some Good News” series brings attention to important topics, gives kudos to some amazing organizations and efforts and provides updates on important things happening on campus. What a great, quick way to deliver campus news!

@universityoflimerickSome Good News: The Finale 🌞💚#somegoodnews #irish #college #positivity♬ original sound – University of Limerick

Reduce Unknowns for Students

Boston University [@bostonu]

@bostonuYour guide to moving out of your dorm during a pandemic! #bostonuniversity #boston #college #bu #fyp #tips #ra #covid #onlineschool♬ Morning Path – Board-Man

We know it’s hard to get messages to students through typical university channels and even harder to get those same students to do something boring like completing a dorm move-out check. Boston University thinks TikTok can help. Check out BostonU’s super quick and easy checklist for students. Can you think of more instances where a typical ask can be jazzed up with TikTok content?

Academics

University of Georgia [@universityofga]

@universityofgaWhere do you like to hit the books, Bulldogs? #BeKind #fyp #college #uga #tiktokuniversity♬ original sound – UGA

What was your favorite spot to study on campus? Why? Study spots are a great way to show prospective students around and give them a feel for academic life on campus. The University of Georgia uses a combination of chill music and beautiful, “lowkey” study pots to showcase their campus. This is such a great way for a “behind the scenes“ look for both prospective and current students.

Atomizing Content

University of Chichester [@universityofchichester]

@universityofchichesterCome to Hogwarts 🧙‍♂️ #hogwarts #chiuni #chichester #beyou #foryou #podcast♬ original sound – Chi Uni

Higher Ed has so much content. Every department, institution, college, school and office is creating content. So why not atomize that content and use it for TikTok? That’s what the University of Chichester did with their podcast series. With thirty-two percent of Gen Z classifying themselves as regular podcast listeners, this is a great idea to attract students.



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