When potential students start their college search, a university’s reputation, academics, affordability, and offered experience are at the forefront of considerations. Facebook Ad Campaigns and your online presence can play a large role in how your university is perceived by incoming students. 

In fact, a study conducted by the Expert Journal of Marketing found that digital marketing is one of the most powerful tools a university can use to promote programs and increase enrollment.

More specifically, a university can leverage Facebook Ads to promote its academics and harness Facebook’s marketing potential.

Step 1: Identify Facebook Ad Objectives and Buying Types

Your university likely already has its own Facebook page. If not, you’ll need to make one. To create your campaign, log into your brand account and navigate to Meta Ads Manager. 

To receive the best results from your campaign, you must first understand two key components of Facebook Ads:

  • Ad objective
  • Buying type

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Ad Objective

Before you can launch a campaign, you must first choose an ad objective. This objective correlates with your marketing and business goals. Facebook offers six primary options:

  • Awareness – This objective has the widest reach and helps businesses, especially new or renamed companies, increase brand recognition.
  • App promotion – This objective allows businesses to redirect users to their app, either to download it or take advantage of a new feature.
  • Engagement – This objective encourages potential customers to take a specific action, like reaching out to you on Facebook for more information.
  • Lead – This objective collects the contact information for potential leads so you can later reach out to them directly.
  • Sales – This objective promotes products and services and directs customers to purchase them.
  • Traffic – This objective funnels leads to another destination, such as your website or social media.

That said, the most relevant objectives for universities are Awareness, Engagement, Lead, and Traffic. 

Buying Type

After choosing the objective for your campaign, you can choose between two buying types:

  • Auction buying – These ads are available for all ad objectives, and you can place them on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Meta Audience Network. They offer greater customization and flexibility with the disadvantage of less reliable results.
  • Reach and frequency buying – These ads are available for three ad objectives: awareness, engagement, and traffic. You can buy and schedule these campaigns in advance and place them on both Facebook and Instagram.

That said, the buying type you choose will depend on your objective.

Step 2: Create Your Facebook Ad Campaign

Once you’ve selected your ad objective and buying type, you can move on to creating the ad itself. When you create your ad, you can choose from multiple formats, including:

  • Single image
  • Video
  • Carousel
  • Collection

Each of these options has its unique set of advantages to drive engagement and convert leads. For example, a survey found that viewers retain 95% of a video message, compared to just 10% when the message is text-only. And as a whole, Facebook Ads—no matter the format—can reach 2.11 billion people, do reach 63.7% of Americans over 13.

Once you’ve chosen the most effective format for your university’s goals and uploaded your media, you can publish your ad!

If that process seems complicated, you’re not alone. Even the best marketers struggle to keep up with the constant changes on platforms like Facebook. To make the most of your campaign, enlist a higher education marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads.

Step 3: Customize Your Facebook Ad Campaigns to Your University

Not ready to commit to external assistance? Facebook has a wealth of advice and best practices for education providers. That said, universities can use Facebook Ads for two primary objectives: increase brand awareness and enrollment.

Building Your Brand

As we already highlighted, Facebook Ads has a specific “awareness” objective that brands can use to build their reputation and reach potential new students. The “traffic” objective is also a popular option for education providers who want to redirect users to their websites.

When you’re creating content for your brand awareness campaigns, Facebook suggests utilizing video ads to engage more users and communicate your brand story in a more dynamic format.

Increasing Enrollment

Facebook Ads also offers multiple proven tools to help universities directly increase their enrollment. Consider these two case studies:

  • The National Holistic Institute – This institution more than doubled its enrollment through Facebook Ads while decreasing its lead cost through the campaign budget optimization feature.
  • The University of the People – This university created a video campaign with the CTA to message it through Facebook Messenger. Its results showed that 20% of the users who engaged with the ad later completed an application.

In a 2019 report, Facebook focused on how education providers could reduce friction in the enrollment process, and Facebook Messenger is a key marketing channel that the report identified. Specifically, before a student chooses the schools they want to apply to and submits their applications, universities can use Messenger to connect directly with them. 

In fact, according to Facebook, 70% of students would use Messenger to ask questions about a school’s application process. Additional research found that quick response times directly drove enrollments. Specifically, 61% of students chose the school that replied to them first. 

Consequently, Messenger provides an innovative new vehicle to nurture leads.

Semgeeks: A Higher Ed Marketing Agency for Your Next Campaign

Facebook Ads provides powerful tools to reach potential new customers across multiple channels from Messenger to Instagram. Yet, many universities encounter obstacles when trying to decide between the different ad objectives, buying types, and content formats.

When you’re not sure of your next steps, it’s time to call in the specialists. If you’re ready to grow your enrollment through Facebook Ads, Semgeeks is here for all of your higher education digital marketing needs. Your growth and goals are our priority. 


Meta Business Help Center. How to choose the right Meta Ads Manager objective. https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1438417719786914 

Meta Business Help Center.  Choose the right buying type for your brand campaign. https://www.facebook.com/business/help/654484604719506?id=842420845959022 

Meta Business Help Center. Create an Ad in Ads Manager. https://www.facebook.com/business/help/2829711350595695?id=649869995454285 

Meta. Build brand awareness online. https://www.facebook.com/business/goals/build-awareness# 

Meta. Education. https://www.facebook.com/business/industries/education 

Meta. Zero Friction Future. https://www.facebook.com/business/m/education-enrollment-journey# 

Expert Journal of Marketing. The Role of Digital Marketing in Public Higher Education Organizations in Attracting Younger Generations. https://marketing.expertjournals.com/23446773-904/ 

Insivia. 50 Must-Know Stats About Video Marketing 2016. https://www.insivia.com/50-must-know-stats-about-video-marketing-2016/ 

Hoot Suite. 39 Facebook Stats That Matter to Marketers in 2022. https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics/