TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to create, share, and discover short-form videos. It has over 1 billion monthly active users.
TikTok's short videos typically range from 15 seconds to one minute in length. Users can shoot, edit, and enhance their videos with a wide range of creative tools and effects, including filters, stickers, music, and special effects. The app's user-friendly interface has contributed to its popularity among a diverse audience, particularly young users.
TikTok offers an incredible opportunity to engage with our prospective and current student audience in an authentic manner. Here, a less polished approach tends to resonate more effectively. Embracing trending music, topics, and styles has proven to be the key to successful performance on this platform.
Need to knows
Trends and Challenges
TikTok is driven by trends and challenges. Participating in or creating content around popular challenges can boost visibility and engagement around a brand. Leveraging trending music and sounds enhances the appeal of your videos and can help them go viral.
TikTok's "For You" page shows content based on the user's interests and past interactions, driven by a powerful algorithm.
Features like "Duet" and "Stitch" enable collaboration with other creators. Users can ‘respond’ to videos with a follow-up video, fostering engagement. You can also interact with your followers through comments and likes to encourage a sense of community.
TikTok is designed for vertical video, so shoot your videos in portrait mode for the best user experience. It’s always best to be genuine and authentic to reach your audiences.
Think about accessibility
As with all our content across social, it’s important to think about how you can make this accessible. TikTok offers numerous features, including auto captions that transcribe a video’s spoken audio into text. This feature helps viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy content without missing context.
Experiment with Video Editing
TikTok offers a variety of editing tools and effects. Get creative and experiment with them to make your videos stand out. Apps like Capcut are increasing in popularity offering easy-to-use video editing functions, free in-app fonts and effects.
Dos and don'ts
|✅ You should always||⛔️ You should never|
|Be authentic||Post offensive or inappropriate content|
|Use trending sounds and challenges||Overuse filters or effects|
|Consider your audience: who are you targeting?||Post poor quality videos|
|Keep videos short and snappy||Add excessive watermarking|
|Post content in portrait||Avoid sharing sensitive information|
|Add captions||Forget to check you are on the correct account if you work between business and personal profiles|
|Engage with your audience|
|Use hashtags wisely|
|Always get permission before sharing work|
|Check spelling and grammar|
|If in doubt, consult a second opinion|
|Ideal character count||No longer than 100 characters|
|Profile image||200 (w) x 200 (h) px|
|All posts||1080 (w) x 1920 (h) px|
When to post
|High||Five times a day|
|Recommended||One to four times a day|
|When||Thursday at 7pm|
|Notes||It's OK to share posts multiple times a day on this platform due to the algorithm.|
Undergraduates will heavily rely on social media for information and updates, both serious in times of crisis (such as a cyber-attack) and for more casual information (such as about events or societies).
You can also expect undergraduates to speak candidly about the University on Twitter and Facebook. Do not be afraid to engage with them and the community on there.
What are their preferred social media platforms?
Instagram and TikTok will be their most popular choices. They will expect content to feel authentic, so it is important that it features and/or is created by students.
Undergraduates use Instagram as a way to keep up to date with the latest things happening at the University (i.e. upcoming events, festivals or workshops), or to simply engage with content they enjoy. We are seeing increased engagement in things like Instagram Live Q&As so there is a shift towards engaging with the platform for information, but which is more tailored to their specific needs and questions. With the creation of Threads, linked to Instagram, we have seen some of our Undergraduate audience also join us on this new platform.
Undergraduates are not on LinkedIn too often, but when they are there, they are looking at internship and work experience opportunities and to increase their connections.
What about prospective students?
There is also some overlap between undergraduates and prospective students. Prospective students will be largely interested in seeing on social media how the student life and experience are represented.
However, there are distinct times of year when prospective students will be engaging with the University in greater numbers. Be sure you are not neglecting this audience for topics such general research, open days, prospectus/course information and clearing – in line with the campaigns around recruitment that will be running.
Prospective students will rely on a university’s social channels to help them gather a sense of the brand, which will in turn help them make decisions around applications. Research shows that social media is the first place they will look (before the website) for information and to start forming an opinion of the University. They will also use Instagram as a way to virtually see the campus, the students, lessons, facilities and the surrounding area, to give them a sense of what it will actually be like to study there.
Postgraduates will have pride in their university. Connecting with them through social media allows them to personally interact with the brand. This could be through engaging with content but could also be by sharing their own content which relates to the University, e.g. photos of themselves on campus or with friends.
What are their preferred social media platforms?
Just like undergraduates, postgraduates would be relying on University Twitter accounts for up to date information, and would engage with Facebook in a similar way.
Postgraduates are likely to be somewhat more active on LinkedIn than undergraduates, investigating work opportunities and building their profile. Utilising LinkedIn to highlight professional opportunities for postgraduates can therefore be very effective, and any help you can provide to help them grow their network and visibility will be appreciated by them.
Similar to undergraduates, Instagram should be used to showcase any new events and offerings around the University, but again, postgraduates will also engage with content they simply enjoy (e.g. beautiful campus photography, campaign content around Black History Month).
For postgraduate students who are already familiar with the University, there could be an opportunity to engage them with new courses or offerings, so consideration should be given to how to share this information most impactfully across the relevant channels that doesn’t come across as overtly sales led.
Corporate and enterprise audiences
Our corporate audience encompasses anyone who engages with our social channels who isn’t a student or prospective student. This could include parents, local government stakeholders, research partners, funders, ex staff, alumni and local residents.
Our enterprise audience is part of our corporate audience, but it is more specifically commercial partners, businesses who have a relationship with the University (e.g. incubator businesses, those who employ one of our apprentices, those who have received coaching support.
The awareness and engagement with the University brand will vary as this collective audience is diverse in its relationship with us. It is therefore important that information is being disseminated clearly and accurately.
What are their preferred social media platforms?
Because the corporate and enterprise audience is so diverse, there is engagement with all of our social media platforms in different ways.
For example, we currently use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to talk primarily to students, but that doesn’t mean that a local government stakeholder or alum isn’t interested in how we do that and the information we share.
LinkedIn is a key channel for our enterprise and alumni audience to engage with us. The University currently uses it to engage directly with businesses, for example to promote our volunteer business support scheme. It is also a key channel for alumni to build their professional network and profile. Similar to postgraduates – any support we can provide to connect alumni to opportunities via LinkedIn will be appreciated by them.
What about tone of voice?
Although the core University social media channels are primarily targeted to students currently, there are opportunities to engage directly with corporate and enterprise audiences, and where that is the case we recommend the tone should be professional, but also honest and informative so that there’s an alignment with the student focused tone of voice (if your social media accounts are also talking to both audiences).
Use of emojis or colloquial language isn’t recommended, or too many exclamation marks! Aim for ‘professional and positive’.
Staff and academic audiences
Staff and academics will have an overview of all social channels but will be heavily reliant on Twitter to receive up to date information, not just about the University but about issues affecting the sector (Twitter is widely regarded as the best source of breaking news).
However, staff and academics should never use social media to break news or news that has not been confirmed by the university (PR are the first contact for this). We would encourage news being shared via internal channels first (e.g. HertsHub, UHQ emails) and that social media is a way to amplify that and ensure that it reaches more of our audience, where appropriate.
Staff and academics also use Twitter to promote research and other interests. This can be a rich area for retweeting on behalf of the University, showcasing some of the work of the staff and academics. LinkedIn is used currently but not as consistently or actively by our staff and academic community.
How do I engage my fellow staff and academics in using social media?
This group will have a presence on LinkedIn, for more professional and career specific interests, but as a key business engagement platform, staff advocacy on this channel can be a remarkably powerful tool. However, not everyone will know where to start.
To encourage more engagement with LinkedIn from your fellow staff and academics, ensure you:
- Leave prompts for their input.
- Ensure you’re not sharing offensive content
- Lead by example, with more senior members.
- Ask or motivate their involvement (motivations include elevating their own personal brands by association, driving more and faster revenue generation and more connections).
- Educate them to empower them. There are misconceptions that LinkedIn is just somewhere you go when you’re looking for a job, and those that have been at the University for a number of years probably already have a rich internal network of contacts and don’t see the value. Highlight the benefits of being present on LinkedIn, beyond job hunting, e.g.
- Keeping an eye on competitor institutions
- Keeping abreast of key research sector or industry news and opinions
- Accessing training and development opportunities
- Building a captive audience for sharing of research etc
- Leave them with confidence their input is valued and teach them the basics of posting in association with the university, such as:
- Tag the university
- Ensure you have permissions
Similarly, Twitter can be an excellent platform for sharing research and keeping abreast of industry or research sector news. At present there is good engagement with Twitter amongst the academic community, but this could be amplified by regularly tagging the University in posts, linking to relevant areas of the website and encouraging sharing of colleagues content amongst teams or departments (via personal Twitter profiles or professional), to increase breadth of reach.
What about tone of voice?
Our communication style internally is honest, informative and clear. This is particularly true in the UHQ emails, and for content created for staff on HertsHub. These principles should apply to engage with staff and academics on social media too. Even when the subject matter or content relates to complex research, a clear tone of voice and message works best to ensure it resonates with a broad staff/academic base and is relatable for all.
There is a temptation to want to convey the complex in a complex way, but this is not recommended for any of our audiences. Social media is a place for snapshots of digestible information which can prompt audiences to delve deeper, but they should still get a clear sense of the theme/story from the content of your post, regardless of platform.