New TikTok Features You Need to Know for Higher Ed Advertising

Joy Cheramie Jun 09, 2023 Joy Cheramie Senior Social Media Specialist Persona The Adventurous and Entertaining Innovator

Spending time on our phones can be a fun distraction from daily life. But, focusing on our screens too much can result in missing out on real-world experiences. To counter negative associations with social media use, TikTok is implementing new features for teens and families to help manage their time on the app.

However, on the heels of this constructive change comes the possibility of a TikTok ban in the USfor security reasons. Come with us as we explore how TikTok’s newest features and the potential ban could impact your advertising strategy.


Time-Mindful Features

According to an article from TikTok, in the coming weeks, TikTok will offer three new features for Family Pairing:

  • Custom screen time limits: every account belonging to a user under 18 will automatically be set to a 60-minute daily screen time limit. Once users reach that time limit, they will be prompted to enter a passcode to extend the session duration. For users under 13 years old, the passcode needs to be entered by a parent or guardian. 
  • Screen time dashboard: provides a detailed breakdown of the time spent on the app.
  • Mute notifications: sometimes hearing that little ‘ding!’ can be distracting, this feature allows parents to disable these notifications during specific time frames. 

With these new features, TikTok hopes to encourage a healthier, more active lifestyle that keeps teens and young people from using their phones constantly. If you’re worried about how this will affect your advertising efforts: don’t be. The app is still one of the biggest apps in the world with over three billion downloads worldwide. Plus, TikTok is rolling out new features that will make reaching your target audience even easier. 


What Else Is New?

There are various ways your marketing team can successfully utilize TikTok’s advertising features to help your institution’s ads reach teen audiences. As a TikTok Advertising Gold Status Member, Carnegie has access to Beta features before they’re released publicly. 

Audience Targeting Capabilities

Campaign location targeting by zip code is a new feature that TikTok recently introduced as a Beta offering. This would allow advertisers to run ads in refined geo-locations. This is ideal for schools with regional campuses so they can target students in their region. Other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, recently made privacy updates that restrict teen audience targeting. 

Advertisers also still have the option to opt into various “Interests” and “Behavior” targeting categories on TikTok. You can target individual hashtags—such as #collegeadmissions, #collegeprep, and #collegerecruitment—in addition to targeting household income. 

New Ad Formats

TikTok also announced new and noteworthy ad formats in Beta that will support advertisers’ goals of maintaining ad engagement among undergraduate audiences. 

While User Generated Content-style videos will always be best practice on TikTok, Carousel Ads provide an ideal alternative if your marketing team has less bandwidth or just wants to try something new. This new format, which features 2 to 35 image cards for users to swipe through, also brings the convenience of re-using images from other platforms that utilize Carousel Ads, such as Facebook. 

TikTok’s Search Ads format will also help maintain prospective student engagement by reaching audiences actively exploring relevant terms related to your institution. Carnegie can help you extend prospective audience reach to TikTok search traffic using your existing in-feed video campaign settings and creative assets. 

In addition, Spark Ads is a native ad format that leverages organic TikTok posts and their features in your undergraduate advertising. This unique format lets you publish ads ​using your institution’s TikTok account posts.


A Possible US TikTok Ban

While TikTok is rolling out its newest policies and advertising features, another factor is looming. The US is considering a ban on TikTok within the country as there is a renewed focus on cybersecurity concerns associated with the platform. Montana recently passed a law making it illegal to use the platform in their state and the federal government could ban the app throughout the country if TikTok is not bought by a US-based company. 

For a bit of background, TikTok, like most social media platforms, stores user data. This data is stored in data centers in the U.S. but backup data is stored in Singapore. While U.S. data centers have robust security measures, there are fewer guarantees regarding those overseas. 

Carnegie’s TikTok representative had some words to share that might calm some fears regarding the security situation:

“What we’ve built with Project Texas is a system that prevents inappropriate access to [user] data, including no approval mechanism by which US data would be shared with the Chinese government.

We’ve been working with Oracle to implement Project Texas, which is focused on five pillars:

  • Independent Governance through organizational design to insulate decision-making from outside influence
  • Data and Access Control, which will protect U.S. user data flows and limit access to data 
  • Software Assurance, which is all about protecting TikTok from unauthorized access 
  • Content Assurance, which focuses on our trust and safety programs and enforcement 
  • Third-Party Oversight, which is all about holding ourselves accountable”

What’s Next for Your Social Media Advertising Strategy?

TikTok is contesting Montana’s new law, a good indicator of the difficulty states will face if they try to ban the platform. Based on this information, Carnegie and our TikTok representatives are confident that it is still a viable platform for advertising success based on its unique audience targeting features, teen targeting options, and new ad formats that surpass the capabilities of alternate social media platforms. You could also take this as an opportunity to diversify your marketing strategy to ensure all your eggs aren’t in one basket.

Keep your higher ed institution up to date on the latest news and trends in social media. Carnegie has the expertise to help make your campaigns as successful as possible. Follow our resources page for all our latest insights. 

If you want a partner to take your social media marketing to the next level, reach out and start a conversation.

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