The TikTok Takeoff

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? A Spaceship? NO it’s TikTok and it is TAKING OFF!!!

Think Memes, Vines, Music videos, Lip-Sinking and Self Humiliation.

Put all of these concepts in a blender and you have the one and only…TikTok!!!!

A fun, inviting and engaging platform that provides access to short-form video sharing- without the ‘perfectionist veneer’ of Instagram. So why is it so popular? Why should you use it?

The app itself acts as a space for people to share videos of up to 15 seconds long. People can film videos of themselves, whilst also choosing from a range of music, effects and sounds to ‘dub’ and edit their videos, creating a layer of often outrageous, ironic and self evocative humour.

To engage users, the app also facilitates collaboration on videos by people performing together or in competition. It also creates levels of personalisation with a ‘for you’ section, recommending videos based on watching preferences.  This lexicon of interactive features acts as a strong value incentive for users- particularly appealing to a younger, teen user base.

@iubloomingtonThe evolution of a ballet dancer’s day. 🩰❄️ #foryou #fyp #ballet #nutcracker #thenutcracker #dance♬ Wait Another Day – Mike Williams x Mesto

The app has a large base of younger users (the majority between 14-24) fitting into ‘Gen-Z’ who are typically in hot pursuit of social approval with the priority of racking up likes, followers and features. TikTok creates an easy opportunity for a bountiful, abundance of views likes and comments. Videos that enter the ‘For-You’ section collecting more than a million likes- creating serious- and I mean SERIOUS exposure.

A great example of this is the story behind the success of one of the worlds most popular songs, ‘Old Town Road’. Rapper and genius behind the song Lil Nas, promoted the song as a viral challenge meme for months, before hundreds and thousands of people shared videos on TikTok; using the official audio of the song. Only after its TikTok success, the song was propelled to number 1 on the Billboard hottest 100.

This may lead you to start thinking about the opportunities it may pose for you in a marketing sense… high levels of exposure and user engagement for a teen user base. It sounds like a match made in heaven for a lot of companies looking to break into the younger target market.

@ufThe start of a new semester at #university of #florida♬ Tom’s Diner – Suzanne Vega

The app itself is based on the concept of User Generated Content;  therefore opening up opportunities for companies looking to promote messages about their brand through an immersive and interactive experience.

  • Brands can create their own channels, uploading relevant videos to connect with their target market.
  • There are vast opportunities to work with influencers, to spread content to a broader audience.
  • Brands can create hashtag challenges – to encourage users to spread and communicate the messages of their brand.

How is the Higher Education sector responding to TikTok?

Here’s what Owen Shemansky, General Manager of MSPACE has to say:

TikTok is where Gen Z / young millennial eyes and attention are at, so you’re right that it represents a key channel for education marketing, especially for undergraduate products.

What strikes me as critical to successfully marketing through TikTok is creating campaigns which are consistent with the content of the platform. Scrolling through TikTok is a high engagement/entertainment experience, more so than Instagram/Snapchat and far more so than Facebook. Scrolling into a dry traditional advertisement on TikTok is much more jarring than it is on other platforms and leads to immediate disengagement.

For clever marketers, there’s an opportunity to deploy creative content which uses lip sync/memes which sustains the user’s attention and engages positive emotional engagement with the brand. Creating such content is not easy in a business environment, which points to the need for Gen Z staff supporting content development or partnering with existing TikTok influencers to create content.

Most marketers we have spoken to have TikTok on their radar but are yet to dip their toes in the TikTok pond. While TikTok is a powerful storytelling tool, it takes some ‘out of the box’ creative thinking to figure out how to include in your ed marketing strategies.

If you are looking for inspiration and universities to benchmark yourself against, be sure to check out:

And…, if you’re into podcasts we recommend listening to TikTok Strategy at Indiana University Bloomington.

In this episode from the Enrollment Growth University podcast hear from Morgan Campbell, Social Media Specialist at Indiana University Bloomington, talk TikTok and why colleges and universities should consider launching a social presence there.

  • How can universities get started on TikTok
  • What makes a winning TikTok strategy
  • What brand benefits does being on TikTok actually bring to a higher education institution

But how can we deliver the right content that will connect to the Apps young user base?

TikTok is a unique platform, so using content from Facebook and Instagram will stick out like a sore thumb. Education providers such as UNSW are currently smashing their content game, with some killer user-generated content (UGC) that is relatable, fun and fits the platform demand.

@unswsydneyOnline lectures are straight up danger 😴 #fyp #imanexpert #university #funny♬ No Pressure – dirtcups

So… why can’t you too? Creating the right videos seems complex and scary; especially when coupled with a demand for high-level involvement editing, including lip-syncing, special effects and animation.

So here are 5 simple steps so you can launch your brand into the TikTok spotlight:

  • Pick a sound. The ‘Pick a sound’ button lets you select the music you want to use to dub your video- select the starting point from the list of songs and sound effects.
  • Shoot your video. Use the filming button or select a video from your library.
  • Edit your videos.  (this may make or break your potential success- so take your time to do this properly)
    With the easy to use In-App tools one can; cut or crop videos and snippets, add effects, colours and filters or change the audio and volume. Make sure to utilise the special effects and stickers options too 😉
  • Caption your videos. Make sure to use relevant hashtags (#fyp #university #funny #chooseone) to increase your reach.
  • Post them in a relevant timeline or create your own channel to post them into. To publish/post to the public press the “Upload” button. Otherwise, you can post a private video for your followers to view.

Brands can now also pay to advertise on TikTok and although it is still early days, there is serious potential for future growth. So if your brand can establish a foothold in the market now, by creating quality creative content that is relatable to the user base—one can only imagine the potential for the future… the sky is truly the only limit!

If you would like to hear more about TikTok or any other tactics regarding engaging with prospective and current students makes sure you get in touch with our team. We’d love to hear from you!


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