The Study UK campaign, delivered by the British Council in partnership with the UK government’s GREAT Britain campaign, aims to promote the UK as a first-class study destination for prospective international students. Throughout their digital and social presence, there are three main themes: the academic excellence, the benefit of a UK education to the student’s employability, and the rich student experience in the UK.
Our ongoing work with Study UK aims to reach and resonate with a global prospective student audience in a way that both elevates the brand proposition, and presents the UK as a top destination for higher education and unique student life. We identified the need to approach our audience on digital and social platforms native to them, and engage credibly and authentically via aspirational content, practical information and real student stories.
Bespoke Research Findings
We first conducted bespoke audience research to identify the best way to approach the objective, including audience analytics profiles and tailored surveys. Some of the highlights from the results were:
- Over 55% of those surveyed use TikTok daily.
- Across all three countries we surveyed (USA, France, Germany), funny/humorous content ranked as the number one choice for content to engage with.
- Tips and hacks, followed by interesting facts, food, drink, and travel, were the main themes of content that those surveyed were likely to engage with on social media.
- First-hand commentary from students about their experience, tips for studying, and information about the destination were voted the most exciting topics across all countries regarding education/studying abroad.
- Considering these findings, we launched a Study UK TikTok account to reach and engage Gen-Z worldwide, promoting the UK as the best place to study. We aimed to achieve this by creating engaging content that aligns with the native look and feel of TikTok, which would generate organic interactions with the content and amplify the positive sentiment surrounding the brand.
- To address the point concerning peer-to-peer advice and social media word-of-mouth specifically, as a secondary objective, we aimed to build a community of students who loved their experience studying in the UK and want to share their stories through our new TikTok channel.
Based on the research findings and our experience working with the client, we developed a strategic framework combining the brand aims with audience goals, platform capabilities, best practices, and continuous learnings and recommendations.
From this, our content approach was solidified: Showcase why the UK is the perfect choice for any international student through short-form, joyful and inspiring video content on TikTok.
The three key brand messages became our three content pillars, with each providing various themes and content possibilities:
From our research, we understood that our success hinged on ensuring we were as relatable, insightful and authentic as possible. To achieve this, we incorporated student voices and real-life stories in our content approach, creating a platform where international and UK students could share content they felt was necessary.
Our approach was two-fold:
- Reach out to UK universities and collaborate with student ambassadors, societies and faculty members willing to share student and cultural stories and tips on our channel.
- Identify TikTok content creators with a strong voice within their native country and/or UK student communities and work with them on a long-term partnership basis to boost our reach and engagement within key demographics.
Our approach to working with influencers followed the below structure. The approach to working with influencers followed the best practices developed and implemented agency-wide.
- Search, Identify, Shortlist: We did extensive desk research by utilising TikTok’s Creator Marketplace and our network of content creators to research, identify and provide a selection of diverse, creative, and engaging influencers suited to the brand and messaging. We then went through a background research process to ensure our shortlisted creators are aligned with the brand values across their social and digital presence before putting our suggestions forward to Study UK.
- Pre-brief and Collaboration Process: Based on our insights, we developed pre-briefs with the content creators, taking into consideration the key objectives – playing to the strengths, communities and authentic stories of the content creators.
- Content Feedback Loop: To ensure we created authentic, relatable, and engaging content true to the campaign’s themes, we offered feedback and guidance to the content creators during the production stage. We encouraged them to come to us with ideas about what was essential to talk about, which helped them take ownership of the narrative they wanted to drive for their content.
- Creative Sign-off: Where required, we sense and fact-checked the final content to ensure it felt native in look and feel and had engagement value. This included incorporating the agreed hashtags, copy, and other relevant elements in the posts.
Results as of December 2022
We aimed for 10-30K followers for the first month (March 2022) based on generic metrics provided by TikTok. In the first two weeks after launch, we surpassed our follower goal two-fold, with just over 60K followers and an average engagement rate of 8.4%. Our initial launch video reached 962K users, receiving over 1M video views.
We have also built solid foundations for an ever-growing community of creators. To date, we are working with 21 university ambassadors and content creators and are in conversation with another eight students for future content and campaign planning. Some of the videos we have created with ambassadors have achieved over 2M views. This indicates that we are on the right track with our student-led narrative and is a testament to our content being helpful, informative, and inspiring.