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The Glacier TeamOct 7, 2022 11:00:00 AM10 min read

Using TikTok in Your Student Recruitment Strategy

As a higher education marketer, you know that advertising to potential students is a crucial part of your recruitment strategy. But with so many platforms and options available, how do you create an effective campaign that will reach your target audience? 

One platform that you may not have considered is TikTok. With its rapidly growing popularity, especially among Gen Zers, TikTok offers a unique opportunity to reach potential students where they are spending their time.

Here's everything you need to know about designing a student recruitment advertising campaign on TikTok. Or listen to our Signals Podcast episode on this topic!

Table Of Content 

Tips On Starting TikTok

Planning Content

Wrapping Up





Tips On Starting TikTok

Starting out on any new platform can be daunting, but there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success on TikTok. Here are some tips:

download tiktok

Tip 1: Just Download The App And Explore It!

Video content is at the heart of TikTok, so make sure your videos are high-quality and attention-grabbing. Keep in mind that TikTok users are used to seeing creative and original content, so don't be afraid to put your own twist on popular videos.

Tip 2: Look Under Popular Hashtags And Create Similar Videos

When creating a student recruitment advertising campaign on TikTok, it's important to look at what other high ed institutions are doing successfully on the platform. By looking at the videos that are performing well under popular hashtags, you can get some ideas for what type of content resonates with potential students.

You don't have to create identical videos, but borrowing successful elements from other videos can help you create content that is more likely to resonate with your target audience. Use their success as inspiration for your own student recruitment advertising campaign. Remember to be creative and make it your own.

You may want to consider some popular hashtags: #highereducation, #collegebound, #studyabroad, and #adayinmylife.

Tip 3: Aim To Grab Attention Within The First Few Seconds

When it comes to advertising on TikTok, it's important to capture attention within the first few seconds. Most users will decide whether or not to watch a video within the first few seconds, so your content must be attention-grabbing from the start.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your videos stand out:

  • Use creative and original content
  • Keep your videos short and to the point
  • Use popular hashtags to increase exposure

If you can grab attention quickly and keep viewers engaged throughout the entire video, you're more likely to convert them into potential students.

Tip 4: Make Sure Your Content Is Relatable

Relatability is key when it comes to TikTok advertising. Your content should be relatable and authentic to connect with viewers on a personal level. One way to make your content more relatable is to have current students create videos themselves about your school. This gives potential students a chance to see what life is like as a student at your institution, and it helps them to connect with your school on a personal level.

Some ideas for videos that current students can create include:

  • A day in the life of a student
  • A tour of the campus
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Studying for exams
  • Participating in extracurricular activities

Current students are a great resource for creating relatable and authentic content. Utilize their perspective to create videos that will resonate with potential students. Another way to make your content more relatable is to focus on content that are important to potential students. 

For example, if you're targeting students who are interested in studying abroad, you can create videos that highlight the opportunities available at your school. Or, if you're targeting students who are looking for a creative and innovative learning environment, you can focus on the unique aspects of your school.

Whatever type of content you create, make sure that it is interesting and engaging. Remember that TikTok users are used to seeing creative and original content, so don't be afraid to think outside the box.

Tip 5: Tell Them What They Want To Hear

It's important to keep in mind what potential students want to hear. You don't want to bombard them with information about your school but rather focus on themes that are important to them.

To figure out what potential students want to hear, you need to first understand the difference between "what's the story you want to tell" and "what they want to hear." "What's the story you want to tell" is your perspective of the university, while "what they want to hear" is what potential students are interested in. 

It's important to focus on the latter when creating content for your student recruitment advertising campaign. By understanding what potential students are interested in, you can create videos that resonate with them on a personal level. Mock Digital Ad

Some things that potential students may be interested in include:

  • The student life at your university
  • The educational opportunities available at your school
  • The campus environment
  • Scholarship opportunities

There are many different topics that you can focus on when creating content for your student recruitment advertising campaign. Just make sure that the content is interesting and engaging, and that you're focusing on what potential students want to hear.

Tip 6: Discover Your Niche and Stick To It!

Many universities make the same mistake when advertising on Tik Tok by trying to be everything to everyone. They create videos that are all over the place, and as a result, they don't connect with any particular audience. It's essential to find your niche and stick to it. By creating content specific to your university, you're more likely to create videos that are more relevant and interesting to potential students. One way to find your niche is to determine what differentiates your school from other universities. What are the unique aspects of your school that appeal to potential students? 

For example, if you're a university that specializes in science and technology, you can focus on creating content that highlights the opportunities available at your school. Or if you're a university with a strong arts program, you can focus on creating videos that highlight the creative environment at your school. 

Aim to produce content that is either entertaining, inspirational, or educational. Here are some examples: 

  • Entertaining: Entertaining videos are fun to watch and engage the viewers. These videos see the most success on TikTok and show up on the For You Page frequently. You can make your own videos more entertaining by adding engaging, commentary, using humour, or creating a story. Take Duolingo's account for example. They often post videos that are entertaining and always up-to-date with current trends. 

  • Inspirational: Inspirational videos are those that highlight the work you do at the school or the benefits of attending your university. These videos can be motivating for potential students and help them see the value of attending your school. Some ideas for inspirational videos include showcasing the research you do at the school, highlighting the sports programs, or featuring students who have found success after attending your university. 

  • Educational: Educational videos to each potential student about student life, campus perks, or program benefits. These videos can be helpful for students who are undecided about which school to attend. They can also be useful for students who are considering your university but want to learn more about what it has to offer. 

Tip 7: Locate Local TikTok Influencers on Your Campus

Finding local TikTok influencers can be a great way to foster consistent content for your student recruitment advertising campaign. By working with influencers who are already familiar with your campus, you can ensure that the content is relevant and interesting. 


To find local TikTok influencers, you can look up your university's hashtags on the app. Many students who are active on TikTok will use these hashtags to connect with other students. Once you've found a few potential influencers, check out their account to see how many followers they have and how often they post videos. If they have substantial followers and post regularly, they may be a good fit for your campaign.

Once you've found a few potential influencers, reach out to them and see if they're interested in creating content for your campaign. You can also hire them to train other students on how to use the app and create engaging content. 

If you're looking for a more consistent flow of content, it may be helpful to rotate between a few different influencers. This will help keep things fresh and avoid repetition.


Planning Content

Once you've familiarized yourself with the app and found some potential influencers, it's time to start planning your content. Keep the following in mind when planning your content: 

1. Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm

Before you start creating content, it's important to brainstorm a variety of ideas. This will help ensure that your content is diverse and interesting. To get started, consider the type of content you want to create. Are you looking to produce entertaining videos? Inspirational? Educational?

Inquire with student influencers to see what type of content they are able to create for potential students. Some might be better at educational content while others may prefer to capture entertaining videos. Be agile enough to follow the latest trends. For example, you can use trending songs, dances, or "skits" in your videos. 

2. Post Consistently

Consistency is key when it comes to social media. In order to gain and maintain a following, you need to be posting regularly. Aim to post at least once a day, if not more. This will help ensure that your account stays active and that potential students see your content. 

Split students into different teams so that you can have a fresh perspective every day. Experiment with each team’s videos to see what gets the most engagement since it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what will work.

3. Understand How Virality Worksviral

TikTok is all about going viral. In order to get your content seen by as many people as possible, you need to understand how virality works on the app. TikTok uses an algorithm to determine which videos are shown on users' "For You" page. This algorithm is based on a number of factors, including the number of views, likes, and comments a video receives. This means creating content that is entertaining, informative, or both. 

How virality works is that when you post a video, TikTok will show it to some of your followers. If they watch the whole video or interact with it in some way (by liking, commenting, or sharing), TikTok will then show it to more people who are interested in higher education-related content. This goes on and on until your video has been seen by millions of people. 

Even if you're a completely new account with no followers, you can still get your content seen by a large number of people if it's good enough. This is because TikTok wants to keep users engaged with the app for as long as possible. 

4. Why You Need to Start on TikTok NOW 

Remember when everyone was talking about Vine? And then when everyone moved to Snapchat? And now everyone's on Instagram and TikTok. The thing with social media is that it's constantly changing. Platforms come and go, but the one constant is that there's always a new platform to be discovered. 

TikTok is still a relatively new platform filed with mostly Gen Z users. So there are still plenty of opportunities to be successful and be ahead of the trend - especially in higher education institutions. 

Take these universities, for example: 

  • Louisiana State University (@LSU) has 550k followers 
  • UCLA Gymnastics Team (@uclagymnastics) has 512k followers 
  • Brigham Young University’s Cosmos the Cougar (@Cosmo_cougar) has 1.4 million followers 

These schools are having massive success on TikTok only due to one thing - their content. 

TikTok also differs from other platforms in that it's not "pay to play." You don't necessarily need a big budget to be successful. You can organically grow your following by posting creative and engaging content. You need to focus your marketing on a platform where your target market is spending their time. And right now, that platform is TikTok. 

As high school students most used daily app, you’re guaranteed to reach your target market if you start posting content now. Higher education is a competitive industry, so it's vital to get ahead of the trend and start posting on TikTok today. If you're going to invest in social media, invest in TikTok. It's the best platform to reach your target market and grow your brand. You can also start with a small budget by testing the waters with paid ads. TikTok offers a variety of ad types, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget. 


Wrapping Up

Designing a student recruitment advertising campaign on TikTok is a great way to reach your target market. While getting started may seem daunting, it's actually quite simple. All you need is creative and engaging content and use the tips in this article to get started. 

We have lots of experience helping our clients advertise on TikTok and have proved with great success that TikTok is worth spending your time and effort in. 


For more information on TikTok, check out the webinar we hosted on this topic. 

"TikTok Advertising and Higher Education" 

Find out how we can help you, with information from our one-pager. 

"TikTok One Pager: A Platform with Power" 


So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start advertising to Gen Z!

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