What I’ve Learned About TikTok for Campus Rec


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Ah, TikTok. While it’s Vine recreated to some, its new to others. All in all, this platform is taking Gen Z by storm and as we continue to shelter in place under quarantine orders — dare I say it? — Millennials have joined the fun. As with other new social media platforms, we are seeing more and more companies jump on this lip-syncing boat and push the creative game. If you’re considering TikTok for your rec center, here are my tips and tricks for getting started:

Be Consistent

When we first started the TikTok game, someone phrased it to me like this: It’s like the lottery — it only takes one lucky ticket to win. In this case, it only takes one video to go viral for your TikTok to blow up. So, to better your chances, it’s best to post consistently and once a day if you can manage it. Right now, we are posting five days a week, and while we have yet to go viral, we are definitely seeing a consistent number of likes and growing followers.

Hop on Trends

Not sure what to post about? The discover page is full of trending topics and a great place to start. Recreate a trending topic and make it applicable to you. Sometimes the topic is a specific popular song, while other times it’s a hashtag and you’ll definitely be surprised how many fitness challenges are trending. Tap into your staff of experts and video them completing the challenge, or even create a new challenge. The more you explore the app — which you can do without creating an account if you just want to check it out — the more you will realize how easy it is to create and share videos.

Put a Student in Charge

No better way to stay on top of the trends than to put a trend setter — a.k.a. Gen Z student — in charge of the platform. Set your student up with the rec center account, lay down the guidelines and expectations, and let them push their creative limits. This ensures your account is not only trendy, but also more importantly relatable to your audience. I set up a review process with my student to have final word over appropriateness of songs, videos, etc. and this has been a great way for her to have full creative control while I can keep tabs without micromanaging the content she puts together. But you should join the fun, too. I often explore the discover page and offer up suggestions for content we can create or how we can put our own twist on a trending topic.

Turn on Pro

TikTok offers a Pro option — which is totally free — and provides analytics for your account. We have yet to truly analyze our data as we’ve only had the account for a few weeks, but it will come in handy when we report on our growth, and analyze what worked and what didn’t.

Let’s face it: most of us won’t go viral. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to try. TikTok’s short video setup, minimal caption and strong emphasis on sound makes it a really fun platform to work with. The editing process is also very straightforward, making it easy to jump into even for those who don’t normally edit video content. Once a video is posted, it is also easy to share it to your other social platforms to gain exposure to your audience or save the video and share it in other ways. While campuses continue to find ways to thrive in uncertain times, there are little things we can do as marketers to stay relevant and connect to our students.

Ashley Demshki
Ashley Demshki serves as the outreach coordinator at the University of California, Riverside Recreation Department. Ashley received her B.A. in public relations and advertising from Chapman University in Orange, California. She began her career in the fashion industry, working on editorial and ecommerce shoots. Moving to focus on public relations, Ashley worked with numerous nonprofit and government agencies to help empower community organizations and the members they serve. She is passionate about student development and how recreation contributes to academic, physical and social success.

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