June 12, 2019

Common Questions [and Answers] about Digital & Social Media Advertising in Higher Education

Insider, marketing, advertising, social media, strategy, programmatic advertising

Dan   by Dan O'Neil

- 4 min read -

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Common Questions [and Answers] about Digital & Social Media Advertising in Higher Education

Our clients come from various types of higher education institutions: universities, community colleges, and technical schools. There is no doubt that the people we offer our services to have unique needs and pain points specific to them. Often times though, we hear similar questions come up with many clients. Read on to see if you are wondering the same things. We’ve provided our answers to these questions as well.

Q: We have an internal team that runs our social media accounts-- why do we need paid ads?

A: Paid ads serve a different purpose than organic posts. 

This question involves the two main components of an ideal social media strategy:

  1. Organic social
  2. Paid social

A simple way to separate the two is to consider organic social as your main online community management tool, and paid social as the way to spread your most important messages to audience’s that aren’t currently within your social community.

Take for example your College or University Facebook page. What types of information is your team posting? Upcoming events, student success stories, institutional research results, degree/program interesting facts, and important social issues tend to be very common in higher education networks.  Now consider your following. Typically, the highest percentage of your followers will be current and/or alumni students. Organic ads won’t really help with reaching a new audience, but your internal team has probably received enough comments, likes and shares from your current and alumni students to determine which posts are performing the strongest.

At this point, you should be utilizing paid social advertising to highlight what is performing well within your organic community, and redistributing that information to prospective students who fit within your target demographics. Paid Social is much more effective in educating, targeting and tracking the activity of prospective students versus Organic Social’s strength in communicating with existing students.    

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Q: How do I get more followers on my social media accounts?

A: Create engaging content, and prioritize quality over quantity.

Content posts about an upcoming event are effective in relaying a message to your existing audience, but aren’t likely to get you a high engagement rate (likes, comments, shares etc.) unless they have some visually appealing aspects. Facebook, for example, has a plethora of under-utilized content types that you can share on your College and University pages: High Quality Video’s, Visual Storytelling with Photos, Live Video, and GIF animations. You can also look into videos that have been posted by your current students to see if there’s a shared post opportunity.

Producing content just for the sake of doing so isn’t often going to cut it, these are Gen Z’s and Millennial’s after all, so you should look at posts that can grasp their short attention spans ;) . The fastest way to increase your followers is by increasing your engagement rate, because that’s how your posts can appear on individual’s social pages who are outside of your current audience.

Blog_Connor Blakley_Quote2 (3)-1Q: Should we be using Facebook for paid social ads?

A: The short answer is, yes. 

You may have read recently that Gen Z’s are steadily moving away from Facebook, instead preferring the “cooler” platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Although this trend is alarming, Facebook is still a couple of years away from being a poor advertising option for Post-Secondary institutions. There are three reasons Facebook still has some bang for your buck:

1. Low Cost per Click

Facebook’s CPC was 60% less than Instagram’s CPC in 2018. For Education it was also the fourth lowest CPC out of 18 industries, losing out to only Retail, Apparel & Travel

2. Educational Nature of Platform

Although Facebook is being used less than some other social platforms, the individuals who use it tend to spend more time reading the various content threads on their feeds.

3. Millennial Presence is Still Strong

Gen Z’s may be losing interest, but Millennial’s are still using the platform in regularity (despite what they might say). Community College’s and other institutions that typically target the Return or Mature student market will still see value in this demographic for a relatively low cost.

If this trend continues, Facebook won’t be an access point of the future for prospective students. That said, for College and University advertiser’s, now is the perfect time to start to ramping up your high quality video content. t Rso you can reach Gen Z’s of the future on the platforms they will be using.

Have questions that you’d like to see here? Leave a note in our comment section below.

P.S. Follow us on LinkedIn for tips, tricks, and industry updates.

We collected insights from 1,700 high school students on their media preferences for higher ed advertising. Access Report.

Tagged: Insider, marketing, advertising, social media, strategy, programmatic advertising