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Looking for a way to stand out among the sea of colleges and universities competing for the attention of potential students?
Paid social media marketing is one of the most effective tactics you can use for your higher education institute.
Most higher education marketing plans under-utilize paid social media in favor of more traditional advertising tactics. While these channels can be effective, there is a major opportunity cost in omitting social media channels where potential students are most engaged.
Social media is a must-have tactic to reach student audiences and revitalize education brands’ market positioning. In this article, you’ll learn Coegi’s key best practices to optimize social media marketing for higher education so you can drive results – from awareness to enrollment.
Higher education audience targeting strategies can feel fairly prescriptive. Colleges and universities want to reach and engage with prospective students, whether undergraduates, masters, or professional students. This might seem pretty straightforward; however, reaching undergraduate students in a data-driven way is becoming increasingly challenging due privacy laws restricting advertising to minors.
But, not all hope is lost. The data clearly shows that young adults are highly active on social media. So, while perhaps less frequently targetable by demographics, higher education brands can and should use social platforms to reach these individuals from a contextual standpoint in a compliant and authentic way.
While paid social media is an excellent tool for reaching young students, focusing solely on students can limit your education campaign’s full potential. Nearly everyone is on social media – not just teens and young adults. Incorporating parents into your audience mix can vastly increase higher education campaign reach and efficacy, whether they are looking into colleges and universities for themselves or on behalf of their children.
Social media encapsulates a wide demographic range, though the preferred social channel may vary. For example, Facebook and Instagram remain very popular with older generations. Consider leaning into these channels to capture more of your parent and professional student audience.
On the other hand, Snapchat and TikTok have higher usage among younger audiences. By creating a cohesive strategy across multiple social media platforms, you can ensure you’re reaching every potential decision-maker in the school selection process.
Leaning into social media opens the door for innovation within higher education marketing. Young audiences are on the forefront of changes to the social media landscape. This gives higher education advertisers the unique opportunity to test out new tactics and be early movers in the space. Your brand can increase credibility and favorability amongst your key audiences by creating social moments that surprise and engage these individuals.
This also applies to the types of creative you use. Students want to see something engaging and on-trend. TikTok, in particular, is a space to experiment with creative short-form video formats and explore innovative ways to drive leads. Check out these universities who are using TikTok to engage with students: 5 Universities and Colleges Winning on TikTok
Education brands face a unique challenge with social media marketing because their most critical action, submitted applications, is often not directly measurable. Obstacles, including third-party website domains and pixel data limitations, can complicate attribution. However, there are a number of high-intent actions users can take on your website that are worth measuring in paid social media campaigns.
First, determine which lower-funnel actions are most important and measurable. Two such examples are clicks to start the application process or clicks to sign up for a campus tour. After determining these KPIs, optimize your social media campaigns for them.
From there, establish a conversion rate between “clicks to apply” and completed applications, for instance. By taking this analysis a step further, education brands can work to create a more complete picture of social media campaign attribution.
Social media marketing for higher education brands offers fresh and engaging opportunities to reach the full spectrum of your target audiences. Think outside the box and explore how your institution can creatively show up on social platforms to drive high-intent actions, while also building greater brand awareness.
To see some of these strategies in action, view our case study on Using TikTok to Reach College Students.
If you’re looking for a higher education marketing agency partner, contact Coegi today to learn more.