‘Fun, Creative, and Simple’: How Clemson University Uses TikTok

A TikTok-length Q&A with a Clemson University social media strategist.

By: Olivia Osborne

TikTok, the short-form video sharing social media network has taken the world by storm over the past year. The platform enables users to share 15 second to one minute long videos in a vast variety of topics ranging from dance to cooking to higher education. 

The potential benefits of creating content on TikTok are clear: According to Statista, 25% of all users of TikTok are under the age of 19, making the platform an excellent way for schools to reach their core prospective audience of Gen Z prospective students. It’s also a great way to both leverage the content-creation abilities of digital native student ambassadors while showcasing the creativity and authentic perspectives of current students. Add in the next-to-none cost to create content, and you have a platform ripe for targeting by higher ed marketers.

One university that has found success on the app is Clemson University, which creates engaging content for potential students and has amassed a following of over 35,000 in just over a year since launching its account. We chatted with Daniel Shirley, a member of the social media team over at Clemson’s University Relations department, on his take on TikTok in higher ed marketing. 

Q: How can a university create TikToks that students will enjoy and engage with?

A: “This is a tough question for any platform, but especially for TikTok as the content varies and it’s difficult to foresee what will be successful. TikTok is a platform that is made for creativity, fun, and it is rather informal, so keeping the content light and fun is the best way to create content that students enjoy.”

Q: What type of content have you noticed resonated the most with students and potential students?

A: “We have had two vastly successful videos and a couple that were less successful. The type of content that resonates most with students and potential students are videos that are fun and creative, yet simple. One of the easiest videos I made was one about acceptance letters and it was extremely simple to put together. Another successful video informed viewers about the restaurants that Clemson offers on campus. Each of these were simple videos that subtly give information that the younger audiences care about.”

Q: How do you think that colleges and universities can utilize TikTok as a marketing tool?

A: “Creating simple videos that inform and other videos that stick with trends is the easiest way to use TikTok as a marketing tool. The algorithm TikTok uses is different but it means that any video that a university makes can go viral. We have gained over 13,000 followers since January with just a few popular videos. Any exposure is great on TikTok and the app really appeals to younger audiences, so seeing a university doing a trend or making a funny video will resonate with them.”

Q: For universities that are not currently using TikTok, why should they join the platform?

A: “In simplest terms, TikTok is fun. It is easy. It can gain universities so much exposure for just a little bit of effort.”


Check out Clemson’s TikTok account here: https://www.tiktok.com/@clemsonuniv

Olivia Osborne

Olivia Osborne

Olivia Osborne is a social media strategist and former editorial intern for Volt.

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1 year ago

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