If you start a conversation about social media marketing for higher ed, one question is bound to come up sooner or later: Should we be on TikTok and Snapchat?
It’s a good question. TikTok’s meteoric rise grabbed headlines for months. In 2020, it became the second most popular app in the world by consumer spend. Snapchat has been around since 2011, but It has demonstrated surprising staying power.
To decide whether to divert some of your social media resources to Snapchat and TikTok, you should take three factors into account:
- Your audience
- Your resources
- Your goals
Before we look at how each of those might affect your TikTok-Snapchat strategy, we need to address the elephant in the room.
Aren’t TikTok and Snapchat just for kids?
With quick visuals, hashtag challenges, and funny filters, both TikTok and Snapchat might seem like apps that only young audiences would enjoy. If you believe that your post-traditional students aren’t on these platforms, you might be surprised.
Users on both of these apps do skew younger than those of the biggest social media players: Facebook and Instagram. But they may not be as young as you think. Only 25 percent of TikTok users are between 10 and 19 years old. That leaves three-quarters of users in the 20-years-old or older bracket. In fact, more than 20 percent of TikTok users are in their 40s.
The drop-off is much sharper for Snapchat users. There, 48% are under twenty-five and 30% are between 26 and 35. But neither app caters exclusively to tweens and teens.
Help your audience find you on TikTok and Snapchat
Whatever age demographic you’re targeting, the odds are good that at least some of your potential students are on one of these two apps. More importantly, some people are on only these two apps. Users who have never made a Facebook profile may be on TikTok. Someone who has never downloaded Instagram might use Snapchat every day. However, that doesn’t mean you should put all of your marketing eggs in the TikTok (or Snapchat) basket.
It’s important to understand that these apps work a little differently than profile-based apps like Facebook and LinkedIn. TikTok doesn’t rely heavily on profiles. Instead, users view a feed full of videos related to topics that interest them. On Snapchat, users only see what you post if they’re already following you.
So even if your potential students are on these platforms, they won’t just stumble across your profile. You need to create engaging content that captures their attention.
TikTok and Snapchat require more resources
On both platforms, content is video-based. It’s usually short, snappy, and authentic. Content doesn’t stick around long on these apps, so you’ll need to post frequently if you want to be seen. Even your advertising should probably be updated more often than on other apps.
The need to create more content means TikTok and Snapchat demand more resources than other social media platforms. It’s a good idea to have strategies for the more established platforms before adding something new.
Before you commit a huge portion of your ad budget to TikTok, consider running a three-month test. Cycle through a few different ads and see what kind of return you get.
You can also help spread the load by relying on influencers. TikTok has a well-developed influencer marketplace that allows you to connect directly with influencers on the app. Student ambassadors can also help you create authentic content at a scale that might be difficult for your own team to accomplish.
Create a strategy that fits your goals
Keep in mind that your organic content is most likely to reach existing students, especially on Snapchat. Content that helps strengthen relationships between students and the college or program can be a real winner. You might create short videos that:
- highlight programs
- share student success stories
- promote events
- explore the campus
- show the online experience
- feature student services
- introduce instructors or alumni
All of these videos help students feel more connected to the school and their program. Yet they can also help prospective students get a feel for your culture and community.
If your primary goal is to reach prospective students, you might want to focus more on paid ads. These can achieve a wider reach than organic posts while targeting specific users on the platform. Keep in mind that you’ll only have 60 seconds or less to make your point.
In addition to video ads, TikTok also offers branded stickers, filters, and effects. Creating such branded content encourages users to become micro-ambassadors by sharing your branded content in their own TikToks.
Test and see
While TikTok and Snapchat might not be the ideal platform for every college or university program, they are worth testing. Trying them out will prevent you from relying too heavily on any one platform. You might also discover new audiences along the way. If you have a clear goal, know your audience, and have the resources to create authentic content, TikTok and Snapchat might be right for you.
For help creating video content for TikTok and Snapchat, reach out to the social media experts at EducationDynamics. We can help you create content and a testing strategy to find your place on TikTok and Snapchat.