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22-year school comms professional
Former assistant professor
K-12 PR, marketing and branding agency owner
Crazy about design, efficiency and helping others
As a newer social media app dominates social media among Gen Z, the older generations of school marketers wonder whether they should follow the crowd of students.
Over the past five years since its inception, TikTok – the under-60-second video-sharing app – has come to claim a spot among the social media giants. Among quintessentials like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, TikTok is the youngest.
The app is also the most popular among those under 30: more than 62% of TikTok users are categorized in that range. As TikTok has steadily rested in the top ten most downloaded apps list for 2021, marketers’ heads turn.
Assessing TikTok for School Social Media Marketing
However, as a school administrator or educator, you may be unsure whether the platform is right for your social media plan. Though your target audience is definitely in line with TikTok’s demographic, you may feel that the app won’t make a difference in your enrollment numbers or engagement.
Or, perhaps you are worried about your brand image and current and potential family’s perception of your school. Just as you’d evaluate other marketing tactics, this is a valid concern. Yes, it is important to keep up with students and parents, however, it is also important to do so professionally. If not done right, social media posts and even just participation can easily send the wrong message.
Individual educators or teachers, in particular, have grown a community on TikTok called #TeachersOnTikTok. The light-hearted content from educators related to their job has become popular not only among the students and parents, but also among users outside of that particular school.
One of these educators, Claudine James or as she goes on TikTok “@iamthatenglishteacher,” is a middle school English teacher who started posting on TikTok to creatively engage her own students in learning. Quickly, her videos on TikTok about grammar and spelling, grew an audience of more than 2.1 million people from 82 different countries.
Though the influence of Claudine over her school’s branding was accidental, it certainly supports how teachers can be a powerful agent in school marketing.
However, Claudine’s story does not mean that TikTok is best for every educator or school. By reflecting on the following questions, you will be able to determine whether TikTok is right for you.
Are you present on other platforms?
The first thing to evaluate before making the move to TikTok is your school’s current social media content and it’s engagement. Does your school have an active, engaging and effective presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? If the answer is yes, then it would make sense to explore expanding your reach to TikTok. If not, then work on building these social accounts before creating a TikTok account – remember: to see engagement and metrics rise, you have to be consistent with posting and social media is not a set-it-and-forget-it tool.
Who is your target audience?
As with any marketing strategy, the demographic you are trying to reach must be identified before assessing how you will most effectively communicate to them. It does not make sense to waste time on content that will not be seen by your target audience.
Ask yourself who you are trying to engage, and specifically, how old are they? The majority of TikTok users belong to Generation Z (born in the 1990s-2010), so if you’re trying to reach that age group (young parents, older students or potential employees), it would make sense to create content that engages them specifically on TikTok.
Does it align with your school’s goal or purpose?
The next thing to consider is your school’s message and whether TikTok is the right channel to get that message across.
If your school is focused solely on using social media to communicate basic updates and news, then TikTok might not be the right fit. However, if your school is interested in generating more brand awareness or positive interactions with students and parents, TikTok would be a match.
The power of the under-60-second video
TikTok is known and liked among many for the nature of it’s content. Why? Users find the 60-second videos to show a more authentic, relatable and silly side of creators.
Communicating a fun and authentic brand image among students and parents is important. However, in recent years, a large portion of school communication and branding occurs online where it can be harder to humanize messaging and relations.
All school marketers have the mission to authenticate branding and communicating. Taking to TikTok to unleash this could be your new best strategy.
The School Comms Lab is all about incorporating your creative side to tell a genuine and compelling story. With that said, we fully support TikTok and its ability to do this IF you feel it aligns with your brand and the goals of your strategic communications plan.
Below find the link to a School Comms Lab social media calendar template to help create a plan for your posts.
Here are some of our favorite schools and educators on TikTok!
We love how Syracuse University embraces orange on their TikTok.
The School House TikTok brings together a community of educators and schools on TikTok.
This kindergarten teacher keeps it real on Tik Tok with relatable videos that will make students and teachers laugh out loud.
If your school is on TikTok, leave us your handle in the comments so we can check out your account!
Canva has free professionally designed TikTok templates that will stand out.
Film yourself, upload the footage to the template, or switch up your style using the free video, graphics and images.
Layer your video with a fantastic track or record your voiceover.
Once your video is in good shape, you can add things like text, animation stickers and more.
Download your video from Canva and upload it to TikTok.
Brand Journalist Gabby Esposito is a student at the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in journalism and philosophy. As a Brand Journalist with School Comms Lab and Holdsworth Communications, she works to tell the stories of brands and businesses, including schools.
Her articles are an organic form of PR, branding, and marketing. She is passionate about sharing the stories of others—big or small—and learning about lives and ideas that are different from her own. She has written for publications including Her Campus and UConn.
Gabby is from Connecticut and enjoys spending time with her family, dog, and two cats. Aside from writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching Tik Toks, and listening to podcasts.
At the School Comms Lab, we're dedicated to helping you communicate effectively, easily and creatively with your school's key audiences.
In a nutshell, we're here to help make your job a bit easier--and more fun.