Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies

Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies

With higher education enrollments projected to continue falling over the next few years, what have you been doing to stay ahead of the pack? Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Remarketing. Over the years I have helped quite a number of universities and academies navigate their way through the intricacies of the Digital Marketing world. I, therefore, fully understand the challenges that these institutions face. In this article, I will cover the following areas; 

  1. Is Facebook the right platform for marketing Universities and Academies?
  2. Options for Marketing Universities and Academies on Facebook.
  3. Best practices for Facebook Ads.
  4. Creating your first Facebook Ad.

The landscape has become ultra competitive

The entry of so many for-profit higher education institutions onto the arena has, simply put, spoiled people for choice. Public institutions in particular are having a hard time trying to stay competitive. They now need to be as creative as their more profit oriented counterparts. One of the options in this regard is the use of Facebook Ads marketing to reach out to their prospects.

Is Facebook the right platform for marketing Universities and Academies?

I often get asked whether or not Facebook Ads are the best tool for Universities and Academies looking to stay competitive in today's world. My answer is a massive yes!

No matter what your business is, chances are very high that you will be able to use Facebook to achieve growth. Facebook works for Universities and Academies for the following reasons;

Facebook is huge

Today, Facebook is used by over 2.7 billion people every month. That’s an astonishing figure. And the platform continues to grow, in spite of the perennial doomsday prophecies. 

Statistic: Number of monthly active Facebook users worldwide as of 4th quarter 2020 (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

You can check out the current Facebook stats in the graph above from Statista. But what does this all mean?

Well, it simply means Facebook hosts a vast pool in which every business can find potential customers. If you go through this site, you will notice that I have covered the subject quite extensively.

I have written an article on how to create Facebook Ads for Attorneys. I also have a post on Facebook Ads marketing for Kindle publishers

Every business that you can think of is doing Facebook Ads, including adult shops. Indeed, 96 percent of marketers believe in the power of Facebook marketing. 

Facebook remains popular

Yes, you heard that right! Many people have the mistaken belief that because Facebook has waned in popularity among young people, Universities and Academies will have a hard time finding their target audiences on the platform.

Truth is, the generation that you are targeting remains active on Facebook. It’s where they go to research universities and colleges. So, it’s where you need to be.

Facebook Ads are affordable

Are you aware that you can boost a Facebook post for as little as $1? That’s how affordable advertising on the world’s largest social networking platform is.

The worry for many higher education institutions is that they are not going to be able to afford to advertise on the platform. That fear is particularly inherent in public institutions, with their tighter budgets. 

However, all these fears are rather misplaced. As far as digital marketing is concerned, no platform can hope to beat Facebook in terms of affordability.

Facebook is a robust marketing platform

There is no end to the kind of things that you can do in terms of marketing on Facebook. As an example, Universities and Academies can use the platform to reach out to prospective students.

They can also use the platform to send out notices to current and former students. Thing is, Facebook marketing is highly versatile.

Marketing Options on Facebook for Universities and Academies

In this article, I focus on the creation of paid Facebook Ads for Universities and Academies. But really, that’s not the only option when it comes to marketing on the platform. 

Truth is, Facebook marketing can done free of charge, at least at the onset. The following are the free and paid options for promoting universities and academies on Facebook;

Facebook Pages

This is a free option for marketing universities and academies on Facebook. Every higher education institution that’s out there needs to have a Facebook Page. Check out my article on how to properly run a Facebook page.

That post was inspired by the realization that many people do a half-hearted job of maintaining their pages on Facebook. In reality, your Page on Facebook is representative of your brand. It’s you on the social networking platform.

So, you need to make sure that it is properly maintained. If you have a Facebook page that’s not up to standard, people will think that your institution is also not up to standard. Actually, you should have people dedicated to running your institution’s Facebook page. But what are the benefits of doing so?

  • Your Facebook page makes you discoverable to your prospects. People who are researching universities and academies will be able to find you using your page.
  • You can use your Facebook Page to reach out to current and former students.
  • The page can become sort of a notice board, where you put important notices and other messages for the benefit of your students and the public at large.
  • Facebook pages become important when setting up audiences for your Facebook Ads. You can target a custom audience that is composed of people who have liked your Facebook page. This gives you a higher chance of success because these people are already interested in you.

Boosted Facebook posts

This is the second option for marketing universities and academies on Facebook. Boosting a post is simple enough.

Once you have published a post on your website (and shared it to your Facebook Page) or directly on your Facebook Page, boosting it means the post will reach people beyond your circle of friends and followers.

Boosting posts can be useful for purposes of enrollment. It enables you to reach thousands of people within your target market. And it can be done real cheap. Check out my article on whether or not Facebook boosted posts work

Paid Facebook Ads

I am not really a fan of boosting Facebook posts. Yes, doing so can be useful, but I would rather create real Facebook ads. You have way more options when doing so.

That increases the chances that your ad will reach the people that you are targeting. Anyway, you will see how to create your first paid Facebook ad later in this post.

Paid ads are the third option for those looking to create Facebook Ads for Universities and Academies. They are what we focus on in the rest of this article.

Best Practices when Marketing Universities and Academies on Facebook

We are almost at the part where I show you how to create your first Facebook Ad for your higher education institution. But before we get there, you need to have a little more patience.

This section gives you some best practices for marketing your business on Facebook. You can skip it and make a plunge, but reading the tips that are provided here should help increase the chances that your Campaigns will succeed.

Install Facebook Pixel on your site for remarketing

This is the first thing that you need to do the moment you decide to start advertising your University or Academy on Facebook. As a higher education institution, you probably already have a website. 

How retargeting works

How retargeting works

And you probably have been doing a lot of work to get people to that website. Let’s assume that you are on a recruitment drive. You would probably already have created an enrollment page on which people have been landing from Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

But fact of the matter is that only a small percentage of these people will take the desired action after landing on your site. For eCommerce, the conversion rate stands at a dismal 2%.

That can be disheartening. It’s not easy to get people to your site in the first place. But what can you do to increase your enrollment figures. Well, remarketing or retargeting is the answer in this case.

Have you ever wondered why some ads seemingly follow you from one site to another as you browse across the internet? Well, that’s remarketing at play. It’s a way of tracking what people are doing on a website.

In this case, that will be on your university’s website. Let’s say you have tracked who is visiting your enrollment website. The next time these people visit Facebook, they are shown your ads encouraging them to enroll with your institution. Below is a summary of what we have just been saying. 

  • You install pixel on your site. Facebook retargeting happens through what is referred to as a Pixel. That’s tracking code for Facebook.
  • When somebody lands on your site and visits a page in which they are interested, that interest is noted.
  • The next time that they visit Facebook, they are shown your ads. These ads are related to their interest on your site.
  • This increases the chances of converting by as much as 400%.

Be clear who you are targeting

Most brands fail when it comes to marketing on Facebook simply because they are not really clear who they wish to target. I have already given you a tip on how you can target a pixel generated audience.

Doing so increases the chances that you will be able to convince people to enroll with your institution. That's because these people have already shown an interested in what you have to offer. 

Have clarity on your goals

You also need to have clarity on your goals when doing Facebook Ads marketing. What is it that you wish to achieve? Are you gunning for brand awareness? Do you wish to increase traffic to a landing page? Do you wish to have people get in touch with you? Being clear here will help simplify things when it comes time to start creating your ad.

Creating the First Facebook Ad for your University or Academy

Facebook Ads are created in Ads Manager. You need to have a Facebook Business Manager account to get started. It’s a simple enough matter to get one. In Ads Manager, the process of creating Facebook Ads for your university is roughly composed of 3 steps;

  • You need to Choose a Campaign Objective
  • From there, you can set up your Target Audience in the Ad Set
  • Finally, you can create your Facebook Ad

Choosing a Campaign Objective

This is where the preliminary work that we have been doing so far comes into fruition. Campaign Objectives for Facebook ads define the goals for each Campaign that you are running.

There are 11 Campaign Objectives when creating Facebook Ads for Universities and Academies. However, you can only choose one per Campaign. The following are the available Facebook Ads Campaign Objectives;

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

Which one should I choose when doing Facebook Ads marketing for Universities and Academies? 

Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies

There are no restrictions on the Campaign Objectives that you can choose when doing Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies. A number of the above Campaign Objectives will work in this case. You may have to do a bit of testing to find the best for your particular case. The following are possible Campaign Objectives in this instance;

  • Brand awareness: Useful if you wish to spread the word about your institution.
  • Traffic: Maybe you wish to drive people to a landing page. We will pick this particular Campaign Objective for our example. The assumption is that we wish to drive people to a landing page where they can enroll with our institution.
  • Messages: Perhaps you wish to encourage prospective students to immediately message you via Messenger or WhatsApp.
  • Reach: You wish to have your message reach the maximum possible number of people. This would be great for boosting brand awareness.

Setting up your Target Audience

You have various options when it comes to setting up your Target Audience. This is something that I have already talked about. Basically, there are 2 types of audiences when creating Facebook Ads; 

Custom Audiences

In the first place, you can target an audience that’s composed of people who have visited your website, as tracked by Pixel. Or you can target people who have liked your Facebook Page. These are all referred to as Custom Audience. 

Their advantage is that they are composed of people who are already interested in you as an institution. It’s easy, therefore, to convince them to take the desired course of action, such as enrolling at your University or Academy.

You can create a new Target Audience

It’s also possible for you to create an entirely new Target Audience when doing Facebook Ads Marketing for universities and academies.

Such an audience would be composed of people who have never heard of you before. Facebook provides you with a number of tools that are useful when creating a new Target Audience;

Choose a location for the delivery of your Facebook Ads

Choose a location for the delivery of your Facebook Ads

Where do you wish to have your Facebook Ads delivered? What’s your usual reach in terms of enrollment? Do you get students from across the State? Or do you get students from across the entire country.

Maybe you are looking to get international students. Whatever the case, you can use the Locations setting to define where you wish to have your ads delivered. For this example, we will have our ads delivered to people in California.


Age is another tool that you can use to define your Target Audience. How old are the people who you are targeting? For undergraduates, the usual ages would be between 18 and 22. 


This setting would be useful for gender specific products. For this example, we will be targeting both men and women, so we will leave it as it is.


You can also target people based on their languages. Perhaps you wish to have your ads delivered only to people who speak Spanish. This setting is not relevant in this particular instance.

Detailed Targeting
Use the Detailed Targeting section to refine your target audience

Use the Detailed Targeting section to refine your target audience

While the target audience that we have defined so far is great, it’s still rather broad. If we run with it, we are probably only going to have a limited amount of success. That is where the detailed targeting section comes into play.

It allows you to really zoom in on your audience. In this case, targeting is based on demographics, interests and behaviors. Remember that Facebook knows a lot about its users.

It knows who they are, what they like, where they live, where they work, who their friends are and so on. You can take advantage of this data to help narrow down on the people that you are targeting. For this example, we will be targeting people who have shown an interest in the following areas. 

  • Academic degree
  • College
  • College application
  • University and college admission
  • University of California, San Diego
Budget and Schedule
Set a budget for your Facebook Ads

Set a budget for your Facebook Ads

You will also find the Budget and Schedule section in the Ad Set. My advice to you is that you should always try to ensure that you retain control of your spending. Set start and end dates for your Campaigns. Or have an overall Campaign spending limit.

If you do not do that, you will find that Facebook will keep running your ads forever. And they will keep deducting money from your account. It pays to do things in phases. That way, you can access progress after a certain period of time.

Creating your Ad

The work that we have been doing so far will all be in the background. What our prospects will see is the ad itself. So, you need to make it good.

Undermining you is the fact that people, particularly young people, do not go to Facebook to buy stuff. They go there to chat with friends and to share the latest gossip and fake news.

With such important matters on their minds, you have a hard time convincing them to take a moment to consider your offer. But it can be done. So, how do you do it?

Make sure that your ad is to the point. And avoid having too much text in the ad. Facebook is now mostly about the visuals. Try to make your ad as appealing as is possible. 

Ad Formats

Facebook Ads can be in the form of a video, a carousel or a single image. Your choice here should be determined by the nature of your institution. And you need to do a lot of testing to find the right formula.

That’s the beauty of doing Facebook Ads. You can do lots of A/B testing till you have found the format that works for you.

If you choose to do a video ad, perhaps one showing your institution in all it’s glory, Facebook advises that you go no more than 15 seconds in your ad. Beyond that you will lose your audience. 

Primary Text

I usually advise people to make their primary text no more than 2 lines long. In fact, one line would be best. Again, you need to make the visuals do the talking. Have too much text would only serve to push people away. 

The landing page

Your landing page is not part of your ad, but it’s important nevertheless. Some people simply use their home pages as the landing pages for their ads.

That’s not the right approach. You need to have a landing page that’s dedicated to converting people from your Facebook Ads.

Otherwise, you will be wasting time and money. I have already noted that it's hard enough generating leads. You need to make sure that each of them counts by having a landing page that's designed to convert. 


That’s how to do Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies. As you can see, Facebook Ads Marketing is a vast subject. It cannot be exhausted in one sitting.

But if you follow the tips given here, you will join thousands of higher education institutions that are using Facebook marketing to remain competitive in today’s rather difficult environment.

If you wish to learn more about Facebook Ads marketing, I encourage you to enroll for my Facebook Ads Mini Course using the form below. Otherwise, have a good day!

1 thought on “Facebook Ads Marketing for Universities and Academies”

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