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Recruiting Intelligence

Navigating the TikTok Ad Platform: Part 2


Last week we helped dissect the TikTok ad platform. If you took anything away from that read, we bet you learned that:

  • Its popularity among Gen Z is undeniable (76% use it!).  
  • Branded and search-based advertising on TikTok is possible (hello Brand Takeover and Search Ads Toggle!).
  • Surprisingly, TikTok targeting leaves something to be desired. Proceed with a partner who knows how to make an impact.

But for all of that, we didn’t even touch on content creation. And with this platform, that’s the crux of it all. 

Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • AIRC Annual Conference – we’ll be offering our full day digital marketing workshop here in Phoenix, Dec 6-9, 2023 
  • ICEF North America Workshop in Miami, Dec 11-13, 2023 

Let us know if you’ll come share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 

Back to the matter of Tik Tok content. On the one hand, institutions have professional brands to uphold, yet the audience engaging on TikTok demands a more organic, playful view of said brand. It’s a marketing balancing act to say the least. And then there’s the matter of targeting capabilities, which on TikTok are more or less hamstrung. (Wait a minute – what?! If this surprises you, then you may be behind on your reading. Important to catch up with last week’s post. Here's the link again. We promise it will be worth 5 minutes of your time. TikTok may be famous for its algorithm, not so much for its audience segmentation.)

TikTok thrives on the art of brevity and entertainment. Your content must engage and convey your message within seconds, 9-15 is optimal. And to do that you must not only know what it is you want to say, you must know what it is your audience wants to receive. While that’s true of any marketing channel, it’s do or die here. Understanding the unique language and rhythm of this platform is paramount. More bluntly, if your ad isn’t a video that is short, sweet, and entertaining, don’t bother.

Today we offer pro tips for doing just that. Read on to learn how to make your content feel native to TikTok’s seemingly all-knowing algorithm so you can maximize the impact of your ad spend. This post is a short read, and one you won’t want to miss.

The Matter of Time-Consuming Content Creation

No matter the ad format, creating content for TikTok is, well, a commitment. Success demands staying current with top-of-feed trends and mastering the art of short-form videos. Unlike the 30- or 60-second posts found on other platforms, TikTok requires you to be concise and impactful. Sure, you can repurpose that one-minute YouTube video for use on TikTok, but it isn’t in your best interest. In fact, it’s not in your interest at all. This platform works best with 9-15 second videos.

Same goes for static ads. Avoid them at all costs. TikTok is fundamentally all about videos. Scratch that. TikTok is all about entertaining videos. According to the Digital 2023 July Global Snapshot Report by We Are Social and Meltwater, 79% of TikTok’s audience is looking for funny or entertaining content. So be charming!

Other key content notes straight from TikTok itself:

  • Entertaining TikTok ads are watched for 1.3x longer than ads that do not have entertainment value.
  • Ads created specifically for TikTok see 27% higher completion rate as compared to repurposed ads.
  • 15% of TikTok users will likely skip ads that don’t use sounds.
  • Ads that remix a trend have 14% longer watch time.
  • Lo-fi or otherwise unpolished ads see 33% stronger consideration (note: unpolished ads can take just as much time as the more polished variety).

Content’s bottom line: Create ads that feel native to TikTok’s algorithm. Keep them short, relevant to the current trends and topics, and really smart.

A great way to kickstart content ideation is by seeing what others are doing well and not so well. We suggest going into your TikTok for Business account, which again is free and can easily be set up by you or a trusted partner. On the homepage you should see “Inspiration” as a top-tier navigation. Click on that and you will find the Top Ads Dashboard where you can check out top-performing ads in any category, including edu.

Pro Tips for Promoting Your Institution on TikTok

There are a million ways to approach a TikTok campaign, but here are a few ideas to help spur an internal brainstorm. Your best brainstorming resource is all around you - buy a few pizzas and ask your students to join you in a room with a whiteboard for a fun hour. Prompt goofiness as you ask them to help you with content ideas. Let them go nuts and then grab the best, brand promoting stuff that isn’t over the top for your institution (and yes, they will go over the top, but let them!)

You are looking for the point where creative meets effective:

  • Showcase campus life. TikTok thrives on engaging visuals. Capture vibrant scenes from your campus – from dorms and libraries to events and traditions. Give prospects a sneak peek into your student’s daily life. Be funny, odd, alternative. Mainstream shots will be lost to a quick finger flick.
  • Share insights and information. Offer concise yet informative content about admission criteria, scholarships, and career avenues. Address frequently asked questions and guide students through the application process. Again, give viewers a real reason to view. Simply informative will not engage.
  • Engage with challenges. Embrace viral TikTok challenges and tweak them to resonate with your institution's spirit. This can spike your outreach and interactions.
  • Empower student voices. Host student account takeovers, allowing them to share genuine campus experiences. From daily routines to class interactions, this offers a raw, unfiltered view to prospects (a perfect recipe for authenticity).
  • Stay trend-savvy. Continuously monitor and adapt to the platform's ever-changing trends, ensuring your content remains relevant and refreshing.

One last word: Keep the audience you are serving front and center in all your ideation sessions. They want to be entertained. To do so effectively in the short time you have on this platform means sticking to one theme or topic per post. All of your team’s favorite recruitment tricks cannot fit into one post. Focus on tidbits of information. Drip it out. And make it fun!

Need more ideas? Check out our post from 2022 all about getting started with TikTok Marketing. Better yet, be in touch. We love this stuff.

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