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TikTok Ads: How Schools Are Attracting Prospective Students

by Colling Media - May 15, 2024

How Schools Are Attracting Prospective Students with TikTok Ads

TikTok has become a popular social media channel for schools to market programs and attract new students. With its short-form videos, catchy music, and engaging content, it’s quickly become a go-to platform for Gen Z and Millennials. In this article, we will explore how schools are using TikTok ads to recruit students and what benefits it offers. 

How Schools Are Using TikTok Ads to Target Prospective Students

In addition to creating organic content, many schools are turning to TikTok to reach target audiences. TikTok’s powerful advertising platform allows schools to create highly targeted campaigns that reach specific demographics, such as high school students interested in STEM programs or those in a geographic location.

TikTok ads come in various formats, including in-feed ads, brand takeovers, and sponsored hashtag challenges. In-feed ads appear in users’ feeds like organic content, while brand takeovers display as a user opens the app. Sponsored hashtag challenges encourage users to create content using a specific hashtag, providing schools with user-generated content to showcase on channels.

Why TikTok Ads Are Effective for Schools

TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes content that engages users, making it an ideal platform for schools to showcase their unique programs and attract prospective students. Unlike traditional advertising, TikTok advertisements don’t feel like ads – they blend in with the organic content on users’ feeds, making them more likely to engage with the content.

In addition to their ability to blend in with organic content, TikTok ad content also have a high engagement rate. The platform’s short-form video format encourages users to watch content all the way through, increasing the chances of users seeing the entire ad.

Successful School TikTok Ad Campaigns

Musicians Institute 

Midwest Technical Institute

American Institute of Dental Assisting

Why TikTok Ads Can be Effective for Schools

It’s easy to see why TikTok can be effective for schools looking to attract and recruit prospective students. TikTok’s user base is mostly Gen Z and millennials in the same age range as many prospective college students.

With over 1 billion active users worldwide, TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. Schools can reach a large audience of prospective students through targeted TikTok ads.

Additionally, the TikTok algorithm allows highly targeted ads based on user interests and behaviors. Schools can take advantage by targeting users interested in fields related to the programs offered. For example, a school with a strong engineering program can target users who have shown an interest in STEM topics.

TikTok also offers creativity that can be difficult to achieve with traditional advertising methods. Schools can use the platform’s unique features, such as sound and filters, to create engaging and memorable ads that stand out.

Finally, TikTok’s ad platform is still relatively new, which means there is less competition for ad space compared to more established platforms like Facebook and Instagram resulting in lower costs per click and higher ROI for schools investing in TikTok.

TikTok and School Enrollment Success

TikTok allows schools to connect directly with coveted Gen-Zers. The platform helps showcase programs and on-campus life through less produced and on-trend videos that feel less like an advertisement and more like a backstage pass.

Over the last 18 months, Colling Media EDU clients have experienced dramatic results. In one case, TikTok delivered a 29% decrease in cost per enrollment compared to one school’s overall social media campaigns. The young, engaged audience has responded well to on-trend, low-production value ads, delivering a cost per lead that is below other social media platforms while maintaining a healthy inquiry-to-enroll rate.

Additionally, schools have seen a lower cost per thousand (CPM) compared to more established social media platforms, likely due to fewer advertisers competing for ad inventory. This trend positions TikTok advertisers to take advantage of the massive branding and demand generation potential of the platform. The ability to reach more potential students with effective frequency at a lower cost than other lead-generation social media platforms will be absolutely essential as younger audiences continue to consume media via other channels than previous generations.

How Schools Can Get Started with TikTok Ads

If you’re a school looking to get started with TikTok ad campaigns, here are a few steps to help you get started:

Set up a TikTok Ad account

Create a TikTok Ads account by visiting the TikTok Ads website and following the instructions to set up an account.

Define target audience

Before creating ads, schools should define the target audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors to ensure that ads are targeted to the right users and are more likely to result in conversions.

Choose your ad format

TikTok offers several ad formats, including in-feed ads, brand takeovers, and sponsored hashtag challenges. Schools should choose the ad format that best suits goals and budgets.

Create your ad

Use TikTok creation tools to create engaging ads that resonate with the target audience. Ads can include images, videos, and sound to capture the user’s attention.

Launch and monitor campaign

Once ads launch, schools can monitor performance metrics such as click-through rates, engagement rates, and conversions. The information can help optimize ads and improve campaign performance over time.


TikTok offers a unique opportunity for schools to reach and engage with prospective students by taking advantage of the platform’s highly targeted ads and creative features. While TikTok offering ads are relatively new, early adopters have seen promising ad performance, and ROI. 

TikTok ads for schools are new, but the potential benefits are clear. As the platform continues to grow and evolve, more schools will experiment with TikTok ads and find innovative ways to use the platform to their advantage.

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