Your school has probably served ads on the major social media advertising platforms—Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn—for years. But when was the last time you stopped to consider the nuances of advertising on each individual platform?
Social media is constantly evolving, and what works today may no longer be relevant a year from now. Still, there are general higher education best practices for advertising on each of the core social media advertising platforms that every school should know about.
What Makes Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn Core Social Media Advertising Platforms?
Here’s why Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the unofficial “Big Three” social channels to reach prospects and attract more students:
Platform capabilities. Can you believe that only a few years ago, there was virtually no way for advertising campaigns to target specific demographic groups? Fast forward to today, when Facebook—arguably the most sophisticated of the Big Three—allows marketers to target people based on everything from likes and interests to friends and shopping habits. This granular targeting capability—which Instagram and LinkedIn have adopted—has opened higher education marketing companies to a whole new world of advertising possibilities.
Audience and reach. It’s important to advertise in spaces where your target audience already spends time. Facebook and Instagram each have substantial reach, though Facebook is the clear winner for targeting prospective students. The platform’s demographic includes younger audiences attending college as 18-year-old freshmen as well as older audiences of potential adult learners. LinkedIn is ideal for reaching professional audiences who may be interested in continuing education programs or new career trajectories.
Best Practices for Advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
Most schools advertise on all of the Big Three platforms as part of their digital marketing efforts. But it’s essential to consider the nuances and develop strategic creative (i.e., design and copy) tailored to each channel. Here’s the approach we take at MindMax:
When creating ads for Facebook, we begin the enrollment funnel with compelling, attention-grabbing content. Videos drive significantly more engagement on Facebook than static images, so we frequently incorporate animation and gifs into the designs.
We know that when prospective students are on Facebook, their mindset is relaxed and informal—and our copy reflects that. We balance an element of professionalism with simple language that won’t come across as intimidating.
Facebook Ad Story Example
Facebook Ad Example
Higher education marketing for Instagram requires a similar approach to the one used for Facebook. The big difference is how content is presented on each platform. Instagram is a visual platform, meaning design is more prominent. Crucially, Instagram ads feature images before copy, which is the opposite of Facebook’s presentation.
Prospective students may see the same information on Instagram as they would on Facebook, but in a different order. We account for this difference and update our copy for Instagram accordingly—being especially mindful of CTAs. Have you ever seen an Instagram ad that instructs you to “click the link below,” but the link is somewhere else? That’s the kind of confusing scenario we aim to avoid.
Finally, it’s important to note that Instagram stories have different formatting specifications than ads that show up in the feed. We adjust our images to ensure that they fill the entire ad space for optimal engagement.
Instagram Story Ad
LinkedIn is the unique platform of the Big Three because users are in a more professional mindset when they engage on this channel. We still try to avoid overly formal ad copy, but we will use slightly more sophisticated or professional language on LinkedIn for this reason.
From a formatting standpoint, LinkedIn ads are rectangular, whereas Facebook and Instagram ads are square. Take these specifications into account when creating images for this platform. Like Facebook, ads on LinkedIn display the copy above the design. There are also different options for CTAs on LinkedIn, so make sure your copy clearly states where and how prospective students can take the next action.
If you’re interested in building and executing strategic social media advertising campaigns for your institution’s enrollment funnel, MindMax is here to help.
Our holistic action plans provide everything from advertising creative to ad-spend recommendations to grow enrollment at the nation’s top colleges and universities. Contact us today to learn more.