Should My Campus Be on TikTok?

Every time a new social platform surfaces, we hear the question “should my campus be on this platform?” While TikTok has been around for a few years, it’s still incredibly popular with your prospective and admitted students. According to Statista, almost half of TikTok’s users are under age 29 and 25% of them are ages 10–19. 

So how do you know if it’s a platform your campus should be on? Let’s walk through questions you should consider before adding any new platform or account to your content strategy. And, if you get this question and have to explain your reasoning regularly, consider adding these questions and your answers directly to your content strategy so your reasoning is consistent and easily shareable.

What's Your Campus Goal?

In Episode 1 of Social Strategy Fundamentals, we detail the steps you should take to align your goals with campus priorities. Each goal should be SMART.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

If you have defined goals, ask: does TikTok fit into them? If you haven’t defined your goals yet, start there—it’s necessary before you even think of adding another platform to your strategy.

Does TikTok Support the Goals You've Defined?

Successful social media strategy is rooted in goals that reflect your campus’s values and priorities. Your goals shouldn’t be specific to social media; rather, they should support larger campus goals, such as to recruit XX% more students than last year or increase event attendance by YY%. If being on TikTok is a tactic that helps you achieve your goal, it’s worth continuing to explore as a platform, next taking a look at your target audiences. 

Is Your Audience on TikTok?

Your target audience is the group of people who must do, believe, or understand something in order for you to achieve your goals. Once you’ve defined your target audience (if you need help doing this, watch Episode 2 of our training series), you can determine if they’re on TikTok. Start with the current social media demographics and try to narrow it down to your specific audience if you can. Consider if there are segments of your audience on TikTok you’re not reaching with the other platforms you’re on.

Another way to find out if your audience is on TikTok is to try searching some keywords related to your campus or student life. Are your students sharing their experiences on TikTok? Are prospective students talking about your campus? Note that even if they are, that's still not reason enough alone to start an account—keep reading!

Do You Have the Resources to Support a New Platform?

Adding another platform to your regular social media work requires additional time and resources to create content, monitor responses, engage, strategize, and more. Especially for platforms centered around mediums that require more time to create and edit, like trendy videos. It’s important to consider if you and/or your team has the bandwidth to take on another platform. Think about what resources your team needs to be successful on the new platform. If it means you’re going to cut back in other areas, consider how that affects your overall strategy and ability to achieve your goals. 

Are You Prepared if a Crisis Breaks Out on the Platform?

If conversation or comments on the platform deteriorate, are you and your team prepared to manage and respond appropriately? Just as with overarching crisis communication, it’s helpful to proactively develop a plan for crisis response before it occurs. Before jumping on board a new platform, it’s important to consider your crisis response appropriately and determine if your team is prepared for every outcome. 

How Will You Measure Success on TikTok?

As with any social media platform you’re on, measurement should be based on social media metrics and not platform-specific metrics. You want to capture how your content is performing as well as your audience’s perception of your content to give you an accurate understanding of how your messaging is resonating across your social presence in support of your campus goals. 

So, Should You Start a TikTok?

As in so many cases, it depends. But the way to answer this question for your campus is to go back to your goals and develop your strategy from there. If your goals align with your audience, capabilities, and resources, then TikTok might be a good fit. If not, capture why it isn't so you can empower others to understand and support not putting critical resources where you won't get a significant return on the investment. 

And when the next platform pops up, you’ll have a framework ready to go to determine not "should we have an account," but rather "does starting an account support our goals?"

For more on social media strategy, download our book or register for our free training series.

Explore the Training Series