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Facebook Ads for higher education

If you’re responsible for marketing to increase your college or university’s student enrollment rates, then you know how challenging it can get.

As more educational outlets saturate the higher ed market, many educational institutions face stiff competition in terms of marketing.

To stay atop competing colleges and universities, are directing their marketing efforts on online marketing for higher education and student-centric messaging.

Educational institutions are putting their top dollar into marketing. As per a market study, higher ed institutes spend around 18% of their revenue on marketing. Considering that the higher ed market worth is around 13.7 Billion, 18% of revenue invested in marketing is a lot.

With that being said, not every educational institution has an extravagant marketing budget.

This is where Facebook advertising comes in. It is an inexpensive advertising medium that guarantees a high return on investment (ROI). If you want to enroll more students and expand your reach to prospective students, follow our easy guide on using Facebook ads for higher education.

Let’s get started…

How can Think Orion help you with Facebook Ads for your Higher-Ed Institution?

Even though the benefits of Facebook advertising are clear, driving sales from a Facebook marketing campaign is not easy. In fact, more than 40% of Facebook Marketers struggle with creating successful marketing campaigns that drive results. Creating your first Facebook ad can be easy, however, extremely difficult to make it successful.

This is where Facebook advertising agencies like Orion can help you. Think Orion knows the art and science of Facebook advertising dating back to the days before social media even became a marketing channel.

With experienced Facebook advertisers, we can help higher education businesses use Facebook college ads to grow their student intake. Orion manages over $10,000,000 in Facebook ad spend. We help our clients from the higher education industry to develop advanced marketing campaigns to grow their business.

Advanced Facebook advertising tactics that we use include retargeting, A/B split testing, lookalike audiences, and even conversion optimization. We help our clients develop effective ads and optimize them for optimal results. 

We test different ads that our experts create to see which one performs the best. And for performance measurement, we use conversion pixels to track the exact number of leads that our clients receive in any given period of time. These are just some of the strategies we implement for our clients to run profitable ads campaigns on Facebook.

How to Use Facebook to Attract High School Students?

Before you even think about creating your Facebook Ads campaign, you need to first clearly define your target audience. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself dealing with way too many targeting parameters. 

In order to use Facebook Ads to attract high school students, you must have detailed information about your target customers. You must have detailed information related to their demographics, geographics, education, interests, browsing, and usage behavior. Knowing this will allow you to use Facebook’s audience parameters to the fullest.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let's see how you can use Facebook advertising to attract students to your high school.

#1. Attract the right audience through interest-based targeting

Facebook has a ton of information about its users. We won’t be exaggerating if we say that Facebook knows you better than your friends. It knows about your education, your hobbies, your interests, where you live and so on and so forth. 

Facebook can use this data to show your ads to the most relevant students for your school. Using interest-based targeting, you can target only those audiences who are interested in the courses your school offers.

If you wish to use interest-based targeting, your marketing team at your school can run a campaign that targets students interested in other established high schools to find potential leads of their own.

Sounds interesting right?

Targeting students based on interests will help you find pre-qualify leads. Targeting students interested in an already established school means that potential prospects will also be interested in looking into alternatives. 

Interest-based targeting is also cheaper compared to other forms of targeted Facebook Ads. Based on statistics, where targeted Facebook ads cost around $0.15 per click, interest-based targeted ads cost just $0.03 per click.

#2. Offer enticing resources to prospecting students via Facebook ads

Whenever students look up schools to enroll in, they want to make sure the place is credible. After all, their future depends on it.

How can a school make itself appear credible in front of potential students - make its first impression?

Well, the best way is to offer learning resources for free (lead magnets). Something that highlights your school’s expertise. By exploring the learning material you offer in your ads, prospecting students can get an idea of the caliber of your institute.

But why bother with incorporating lead magnets in your Facebook education ads?

Well, to tell you the truth, 96% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit.

This is why you’ll need a lead magnet to entice potential students to register in your high school.

Offering discounts also works as a great lead magnet. For new students, you can offer limited-time discounts to get them to enroll in your school. Not only will you be creating urgency, but you’ll also be offering a great benefit for students looking to save on tuition fees.

#3. Find new students with Lookalike Audiences

Facebook Lookalike Audiences is great for finding new students based on the data you have about your current audience. By using the activity patterns, interests, and demographics of your existing customers, Facebook can run ads to find new students who may have the same interests.

One thing to keep in mind is that Lookalike Audiences is made up of those people who have never interacted with your brand. Getting a completely new audience to convert may seem difficult, but there are ways through which you can slowly move a lead forward through your funnel. 

For instance, your first Facebook ad should introduce potential students to your school.

Once a Lookalike Audience has engaged with your Facebook ad, you can move them forward to the retargeting phase of your funnel. This is where you introduce lead magnets like free course materials to build a relationship with your potential students. 

Using Lookalike Audiences in your Facebook ad strategy is not only cost-effective but also helps you find qualified leads.

How to Create a Facebook Campaign That Targets College Students?

Now for the part you've been waiting for.

Let’s check out how we can create a Facebook campaign through which we can target college students. 

Here’s what you’ll need to do to create a converting Facebook ad campaign:

  • Set Your College’s Facebook Advertising Objectives
  • Define Your College’s Target Audience
  • Set Your College’s Facebook Ads Budget
  • Create Converting Ad Content for Your College
  • Monitoring and Tweak Your Facebook Ads

Let’s get started…

Set Your College’s Facebook Advertising Objectives

Before you expect your ads to start filling up your student enrollment pool, you need to set campaign goals. To set advertising objectives for your ad campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your college promoting?
  • Who is your college targeting?
  • What concerns do your potential students have?
  • What stage of the admissions process are your potential students at?
  • What is your campaign goal?


Asking these important questions will help you target the right students for your college, bid on the right keywords, and create the most appealing content to attract potential students.


It is also super important to choose a marketing objective when creating your Facebook Ads campaign. Creating an objective - what you want to achieve will help you decide the format of your ads, their prices, and other metrics.


Facebook lets you choose a campaign objective from the following list:


  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Video views
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalog Sales
  • Store Visits
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App installs



By choosing the perfect marketing objective, you’ll be able to strengthen the chances of you achieving your college’s recruitment goals.

Define Your College’s Target Audience

To define your target audience, you can use Facebook’s targeting options. Fiding the right combination of targeting parameters will help you reach your ideal student audience.


Here are all the different categories of audience parameters you can find in Facebook Ads:

  • Demographic Targeting
  • Location Targeting
  • Connection Targeting
  • Custom Audiences
  • Lookalike Audiences
  • Interest/Behavior Targeting


All of the audience parameters mentioned above serve a different purpose. For example, if you want new students to learn about your college, you will want to use interest-based or demographic targeting. In case you wish to convert leads who have already interacted with your school, you will want to use custom audiences or connection targeting to get your leads to interact further.


When defining your prospective student audience, make sure that you don’t go too narrow or too broad. You must find a sweet spot. Facebook can help you find just the right balance through its barometer targeting.  When you play around with the targeting options, the barometer feature will let you know whether your audience is too narrow, too broad, or perfect. It will also let you know the approximate reach of your ads.



To create the most effective Facebook Ads for education, you need to pinpoint your target audience accurately. This way, Facebook will only show your ads to the right people and skip irrelevant people.

Set Your College’s Facebook Ads Budget

Once you’ve come up with your Facebook ads strategy, you’ll need to now put in the money to display your ads to the right people. Facebook allows you to choose between various bidding options. For example, Facebook can charge you for every 1000 impressions that your ads get. Similarly, Facebook can charge you for a set number of clicks and so on and so forth.

If you talk about how much Facebook Ads will cost you, well, it all depends on the relevance of your ads. If your ad has a good Relevance Score, your CPC will be low and you can expect to get good click-through rates (CTR).

Once your ads are created, your budget is all set, and you’ve figured out your target audience, you can sit back and monitor your ads campaign’s performance through the Facebook Ads Manager.

Optimizing Facebook Ad bids

When running your ads, you’d want to make sure that you don’t overspend your marketing budget. If you don’t monitor your Facebook Ad bids, you can end up paying way too much for your ads. Also, if you bid too low, your ads won’t get any visibility. Either way, you’ll end up wasting your ad spend. 

Optimizing ad bids involves setting your ad budget. You can choose either to bid a certain amount per day or set up a lifetime budget which will be the total amount that you want to spend on your ad.

Also, you wouldn’t want to run your ads all the time. You can set up an end date for your campaign which will stop displaying your ads at the predetermined end date. For colleges and schools, Facebook offers an option called ‘dayparting,’ which allows marketers to set particular times and days when they want their ad to run.

After running a few ads, you’ll know which days and times your ads generate the most traffic. Based on that, you can allocate your ad spend to that time frame. 

To set up the ideal bid, colleges can choose automatic bidding, where Facebook sets a bid on your behalf automatically.  If you have experience with Facebook ads, you adjust manual bidding to take full control over your ad spend.

Create Converting Ad Content for Your College

After you’re done setting up your ad budget and optimizing your Ad bids, you can start creating ads directed towards college students. This is where you let your creativity shine. But before you create your ads, decide on an ad type - the format and placement of your Facebook Ads.

So, let's first talk about Facebook Ad types.

Facebook Ads are essentially composed of body text, photos, videos, links, CTAs, and headings.

You can use any ad type you see fit for your college or school. If you want students to apply for registrations, you can use an ad format with the “Register Now” text with an appropriate CTA. In case you want prospecting students to get in touch for inquiries, contact us CTA will do just fine. 

Many advertisers stick to standard Facebook ad formats. They’ll usually run ads with an image or video. With that being said, you can always be a bit creative and create carousel ads that display multiple images in a single ad. You can also experiment with Facebook Stories Ads which have become popular these days.

Monitoring and Tweak Your Facebook Ads

Even if you’ve created the perfect ad and optimized them just right, your ads may not perform as expected. This is why close monitoring is crucial to running successful ad campaigns. You’ll need to do necessary tweaking to get more and more students to enroll in your college through your Facebook Ads. 

The way you monitor the performance of your Facebook Ads is through the Facebook Ads Manager.

While the Facebook Ads manager contains complex data that can get overwhelming to understand, there are some basic metrics that should help you track the weekly performance of your ads campaign. Here are some basic metrics that you should monitor

  • Impressions
  • CPC
  • CTR
  • Leads
  • Link Clicks


The CPC and CTR of your ads will determine how much you’ll be paying and how frequently you’ll be paying to run your ads. These metrics will help you decide whether you should keep an ad active, or change the amount of ad spend you have allocated to it.

When monitoring and optimizing your ads, make sure to note what’s working and what’s not so you can improve your Facebook Ads overtime accordingly.


Digital marketing is not easy. It takes a lot of experimentation and careful monitoring to be able to drive successful results from a Facebook advertising campaign. But if executed properly, your university Facebook Ad campaign will help you reach thousands of prospecting students for your educational institute.

We hope you found this Facebook ads for higher education guide useful. If you don't have the resources or expertise to use Facebook for schools marketing, you can always reach out to us. Let Orion create and optimize ads targeting college students.