Breaking the Mould: How Can Universities Be ‘Trendy’ on TikTok?

Breaking the Mould: How Can Universities Be ‘Trendy’ on TikTok?

Website_Blog-Tik Tok Trends 2024

TikTok is no longer just known for its viral dance crazes, it has evolved into a dynamic space for storytelling, community engagement and, most importantly, brand building. With 3.7 million users in the UK, and with 30% being aged 16-24[1], it is no surprise that universities are using TikTok to leverage the platform’s user-generated ‘trends’ for brand relevance and engagement.

With 34 million posts a day[2], it’s hard to stand out on TikTok, which begs the question – how can universities break through the noise? Enter Education Cubed, a proud TikTok partner, offering insights from TikTok’s latest ‘What’s Next 2024 – Trend Report’[3]. With the theme of ‘Creative Bravery’ this blog post will dissect three trends from the report and give some great examples that university marketing teams can take inspiration from.

  1. Curiosity Peaked

Users come to TikTok looking for far more than entertainment. They use it to discover activities, or stay updated on the latest news, diverging from traditional discovery methods on Google. TikTok is now a space where curiosity unlocks new perspectives and users discover niche avenues they had never noticed before. Universities should stand ready to guide, inform and inspire, ensuring their presence is not just noticed, but actively sought out.

How universities do it:

  • Behind the scenes ‘Have you ever wondered about..’ videos – e.g. featuring an Open Day agenda in detail
  • Encouraging current students to share their experiences and their favourite spots, traditions and activities
  • Interview-style videos featuring faculties, staff, and students to pinpoint advice they would give to new students
  1. Storytelling Unhinged

‘Unfiltered’ story trends are growing hugely in popularity on the platform. They are an invitation to break free from the linear beginning, middle, and end storyline and instead create narratives that are fuelled by the community, with recurring themes of humour, nostalgia, or relatability.

The University of Kent embraced the power of educational comedy in their ad by using Norma, the talking robot. By infusing humour into their subject content, they not only stopped people scrolling past but also effectively communicated their message. The ad generated a 27% higher average watch time compared to montage-style videos.

How universities do it:

  • Play into subject nuances and key themes and approach with educational comedy.
  • Highlight achievements and milestones i.e. Student speeches in graduations and staff reaction to university awards. This not only engages the audience but also strengthens the sense of belonging among students and alumni.

Tip: Heavily edited videos can be off-putting as it’s not native to the platform.

3. Bridging the Trust Gap

Trust is crucial in any marketing strategy, and it becomes even more significant in the context of TikTok, where authenticity and relatability are highly valued by users. While hopping on the bandwagon of the latest trends is a good idea, its effectiveness lies in its relevance and ability to interact with students on a personal level. To achieve this, universities need to navigate the intricacies of student lingo, and engage in meaningful conversations that resonate with their values.

How universities do it:

  • Do a student takeover video
  • Create videos as a response to comments from a previous video to address student concerns

Tip: Stay updated on the latest trends and expressions within the student community to ensure your messaging remains relevant. Post topics that matter to students, showcasing the university’s commitment to understanding and responding to their needs.

Here at Cubed, we offer a tailored approach whether you need ideas, creation, and/or ad execution. Contact us today for expert advice on making your university stand out on TikTok.




Kyle - Education Cubed



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