TikTok offers an authentic glimpse into campus life, whether it's through videos capturing students in the class, a unique dance through a prominent building, or a challenge that gets the imagination going.
Inspired by students' efforts some institutions have already dived in and started launching content either using an official university account or through designated student ambassadors.
The posts often highlight the diversity of students, the campus, and how people are having fun.
We've trawled the platform and here are five examples of university-owned TikTok content that caught our eye that shows the potential of the platform to engage with students.
#1 - Making it rain glass at Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) posted an oddly satisfying clip of glass being melted at 2000 degrees from a workshop for high school art teachers, set to original music in the background. Viewers clearly enjoyed the randomized sculpture that looks a little bit like a spun sugar decoration and it had clocked up over 808k likes at the time of publishing this post.
#2 - The University of Limerick's Handclap Challenge
With a healthy 126k likes it appears that The University of Limerick has successfully latched onto the #handclapchallenge craze. The university filmed two students Dara and Grace carrying out a well-rehearsed hand clap routine, to provide some welcome attention for its graduation events and celebrations. It's had plenty of exposure and fits with the idea of celebrating achievement. Round of applause, please.
#3 - Moonwalking the school of theatre and dance at UF College of the Arts
A video of Chad and Emma moonwalking has picked up 168k likes on TikTok. The students were filmed gliding their way across the floor in a synchronized form at The University of Florida College of the Arts. The College has released dozens of videos on TikTok, the majority of which have over 10k likes. Many feature fun goings-on or dance routines around campus like these robot moves. Bravo.
#4 - Showcasing the Campus at Indiana University
Indiana University has created a short video covering 10 must-see places for its Bloomington campus. The clips cover a lot of ground and for a time-starved student, it's a great way to see the major components of this impressive campus.
#5 - UCLA promotes coronavirus advice in a fun format
Many institutions are using social media to share content relating to coronavirus guidance. Whilst it's a serious topic, credit goes to The University of California for getting important messages across in a lighthearted and fun way. Here is an example of handwashing delivered in a wonderful acapella.
TikTok content is thriving
TikTok has continued to experience tremendous growth during the coronavirus pandemic.
And as universities tackle the challenges of keeping their campus facilities safe whilst preserving and promoting positive university experiences, digital content on short-form platforms like TikTok is, to an extent, filling the void.
For many prospective students, for example, a campus tour is a right of passage. But with visit opportunities temporarily shelved or at least amended to adhere to social distancing measures, students are looking at other ways to get a genuine sense of what a campus feels like. TikTok has thousands of videos from institutions' campus locations, the majority of which have been created by students and are really entertaining.
As these five examples demonstrate, now is the time for universities to also get involved.
- TikTok is a great platform to present the university in a different, more personal way.
- When you do film content, use a vertical orientation and make sure that the music you use is relevant to the content and grabs the viewer's attention.
- The app is great for showing aspects of campus life, such as accommodation, events, teaching, sports, and much more, in fun and engaging ways.
- Since TikTok is relatively new in the higher education sector, you could dip a toe in the water by having designated student ambassadors creating content for the platform.
- Don't over-produce content. The majority of the content on TikTok is homemade and better for it. Save your high-quality production efforts for other platforms such as Instagram (unless you can subtly achieve a homemade style of video that has high production values).
- Don't just post the same content you have on your other social accounts. It has to be crafted for TikTok or it will be noticeable for the wrong reasons.
- One of the often underrated benefits of being on TikTok is the potential for social listening to find out more about the community that surrounds the institution and to understand what's trending and popular (or not so popular).
- Find some good dancers! Dance and music content is highly favorited on TikTok.
P.S. It seems to be the season for alternatives to be staking their claims for young video creators, and there are some interesting emerging platforms out there in the short form video vertical ready to take on the mighty TikTok.
If you're able to experiment in this exceptionally busy time, you might benefit from trying out Triller, a music industry video content app, or Clash Video, a new app that includes features to produce high-quality short videos. Or, of course, Instagram Reels which launches across more regions of the world this summer.