Facebook Marketing Strategies for Higher Education

facebook marketing strategies

Social media has become increasingly important to marketing, branding, and lead generation. This is just as true In the higher education industry where your audience may be spread across multiple social media channels, from master’s and doctoral candidates on LinkedIn to bachelor’s degree hopefuls on Instagram.

Despite the current social media attention centered on TikTok (and Clubhouse, more recently), one cannot deny the massive presence of Facebook in nearly everyone’s lives. According to Statista, there are 2.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, and, as of January 2020, it was found that 98% of active users accessed their Facebook account from their mobile devices. (Keep this information handy!)   

Facebook Ads for Higher Education 

By now you know that it’s important to reach prospective students on social media, but each unique platform should be handled a little differently. This is where an expert can help you make the most of your social media strategies.   

Sextant has helped many higher-ed clients create Facebook ads for their university and target their prospective students and/or parents to generate interest and student leads. Like most social media platforms, Facebook offers an Ads Manager platform via which you can create ads, set targeting, and launch your campaigns to reach prospective students.  

Must-use Facebook Marketing Strategies 

Following are a few of the best Facebook marketing strategies for higher education that Sextant Marketing uses to drive results. 

Choose the right campaign objective. 

When starting a new Facebook campaign, be clear about your main objective. Do you want to increase awareness of your university? Is your aim to improve engagement with potential student leads? Or do you want to generate student leads via a lead generation form or a landing page?

Regardless of your goals, Facebook Ads Manager offers campaign objectives that will fit your strategy like Brand Awareness, Reach, Engagement, Video Views, Lead Generation, Conversions, etc. This objective might change depending on the stages of the student journey you are trying to target. Adjust your Facebook campaign strategy as needed.


Define and refine the target audience. 

Once you choose the campaign objective based on your business goals, you can then define your target by creating custom audiences and lookalike audiences and refining them based on detailed interest targeting.  

The Custom Audiences campaign objective allows advertisers to find existing audiences among people who are already on Facebook. The most frequently used custom audience sources are websites, customer lists, and engagement on Facebook pages. 


If you want to grow the target audience size, combine custom audiences with Lookalike Audiences. To further refine your audience, focus on location, age, gender, detailed targeting (demographics, interest, and behaviors), and languages. Utilize the exclusions feature to exclude certain users that you absolutely don’t want to target.  

We recommend starting broad with your target audience and going narrower as you optimize your campaign learnings.

The Apple ios14 update has impacted audience sizes and how Facebook reports on conversions, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your audience sizes and conversion volume.  

While Facebook’s targeting might not have the robust professional data that helps target your enrollment leads on LinkedIn very easily, it is still the primary social network for higher ed and something your college or university should not miss out on.  

Select the best ad format for you. 

There are multiple ad formats to choose from when launching a campaign on Facebook. You can select a single image, carousel, collection, or video ad. If you’re utilizing a video ad, don’t forget the close captioning. We all watch Facebook videos on our phones without sound sometimes, so close captioning will ensure the video is accessible and the message is effectively communicated.  

Remember to follow Facebook’s Ad guidelines for design specification and technical requirements across each platform and placement. 

Regardless of which ad format you choose for your campaign, it is important to use relevant call-to-action (CTA) buttons (learn more, apply now, etc.)


Look at your ad placements. 

Facebook offers multiple ad placements such as Facebook news feed, Facebook and Instagram stories, Instagram explore, Instant Articles, Marketplace, etc. Sextant recommends starting a campaign with automatic placements to maximize your budget and visibility. Reviewing your placement performance and manually selecting the placement that works best for your university based on that information will yield the best results.  




Don’t forget about pixels! 

Facebook pixel is a code that is implemented on the back end of your website that will help you track and collect data. Tracking becomes particularly important when you have invested your media dollars into a platform. The tracking data will tell you how the users you reach react to your ads and what kind of action they take when they click on your landing page or open a lead-gen form.  

Facebook pixels help you measure results, optimize campaigns, and retarget visitors.  Setting up the Facebook pixel will help you track the actions students are taking on your website after viewing your ad and help you optimize your campaigns effectively.  

Test your messaging and ad creative. 

Videos are popular and are great for engagement, but you can still get results from a single image ad or a carousel ad. The trick is to test your ad creative and messaging to discover what resonates with your audience. Once you determine your best creative and messaging, you can implement those across other campaigns. There are several ways to A/B test within Facebook Ads Manager depending on what variables (ad creative, audience, or placements) you are trying to test.  

Review Performance, optimize, and repeat! 

As with all digital advertising, Facebook advertising is not a one-time launch-and-done scenario. We recommended regularly reviewing performance, optimizing according to data, and refreshing ad creative and messaging. With each campaign, your university will not only have a chance to land in front of prospective students but also educate those students on why they should choose your university. It’s an important opportunity to learn more about your target audience and how they react to or resonate with your brand messaging.  

How can Sextant help you with Facebook ads for your higher-ed institution?  

Sextant marketing creates digital media strategies for higher ed across multiple platforms.

We get results.

While Facebook is the most used platform of all, others like LinkedIn offer advantages too like detailed targeting and high-quality leads that play an important role in delivering those results.  

Contact Sextant Marketing and learn how we use a personalized approach to create and implement effective Facebook marketing strategies for our clients and how Sextant can help you do the same.