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02-18-2021 · Digital Marketing,

Harness the Power of Creativity in Social Media Advertising

Your school has the potential to better engage prospective students on social media. All it takes is the courage to be more creative. 

Young people are some of the savviest consumers on the internet. They follow bold social media accounts like Wendy’s and Slim Jim that aren’t afraid to push boundaries to grab people’s attention. They use social media primarily for entertainment. They can detect an ad immediately.

Colleges that understand this audience’s online behaviors are better positioned to act accordingly and build meaningful relationships. And there’s no need to step as far outside the box as consumer brands. Schools can build highly creative social media advertising campaigns while maintaining a professional brand presence. Striking the right balance starts with asking the right questions: 

  • Who are you? Brand messaging should always be consistent. It’s natural for colleges to focus on conveying who they are, but the other questions are just as important.
  • Who is your audience? College marketing teams should put themselves into the mindset of prospective students on social media. Consider who they are and what they want to see.
  • What platform are you on? Expectations vary from one platform to the next. Potential students will expect a different experience on Instagram or Twitter than they would on a school’s website.

Colleges have an advantage over many brands on social media: a solid product offering (i.e. incredible programs and opportunities) to back up any advertising. The tricky part is conveying the value of an institution in a way that genuinely engages prospective students. 

The Challenge: Gaining Attention and Approval on Social Media 

Fighting for Attention

A decade ago, social media was so novel that the bar was low for brands advertising on these platforms. Virtually anything could work in a digital space with minimal market competition and a few well-placed ads. People were less aware that they were being advertised to, so brand interactions appeared inherently authentic. 

Now that social media advertising is ubiquitous, brands face new challenges for getting noticed:

  • More competition 
  • Higher ad volume
  • Shorter attention spans
  • Savvier audiences

People have seen behind the curtain now. They’re bombarded with ads all day long, and they know when they’re seeing one. The window for grabbing prospective students’ attention is so small that schools have about half a second (the time it takes to scroll past your post) to make an impact. 

Fighting for Approval

Gaining attention is great, but gaining approval is even better. When a potential student comes across one of your ads, will they like what they see? 

Savvy young people will judge an ad they don’t like—and the results can be disastrous. Remember when Pepsi was forced to pull its controversial Kendall Jenner ad following public outrage? 

Colleges should strive to establish credibility and earn trust in their social media advertising initiatives. Every single ad is a reflection of your institution. When in doubt, rely on the quality of your offering and communicate it authentically. 

The Solution: Getting Creative and Personal with Social Media Advertising

Schools that embrace creativity in social media can gain the attention and approval of potential students. The more you engage leads at the top of the funnel, the better you can nurture them through the decision-making process. 

Implement these strategies to improve creativity in your college’s social media advertising: 

  • Improve the visual appeal. The best social media advertising is creative and eye-catching. Simply portraying your institution isn’t enough. Find captivating ways to show prospective students what you have to offer. Appealing content triggers curiosity and moves leads deeper into the consideration process.
  • Personalize the messaging. University messaging should be simple and accessible for all potential students. Avoid high-level jargon that may push them away. The goal is always to make people feel seen, heard, and understood.
  • Conduct more testing. Your school has the opportunity to turn good social media performance into great social media performance. But you won’t know what performs best until it’s out there. Prepare to be surprised by what you find. We often are. 

MindMax has seen first-hand the power of creativity in social media advertising. Contact us to learn about the strategic digital advertising campaigns we can provide for your institution.

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