Lewisham Southwark College are no strangers to embracing digital innovation. Last year, they ran the UK education sector’s first ever Instagram campaign, and now they’re the first educational institution in the world to create a Facebook Canvas.

Big brands including Citroen, Burberry and Coca-Cola have seen increased engagement and click through rates with Canvas; the new, mobile-only full-screen takeover, that provides brands with a blank canvas on which they can bring their story to life through a combination of video, interactive images and call-to-action buttons. And now, Lewisham Southwark College are pioneering the use of Facebook’s experiential ad format in the education sector.

Their Canvas, made by our talented team of Creative Natives, allows prospective students to explore the college’s brand new Waterloo Campus through interactive tilt-to-pan images and engaging video content. An image carousel also promoted the dance and drama courses available at Lewisham Southwark College.

We caught up with Lewisham Southwark College’s Head of Marketing, Sonia Furley, to find out a bit more about why they’re embracing innovation…

NN: Hi Sonia, congratulations on being the first college to run a Canvas campaign! Why do you think it’s so important to use the latest digital marketing techniques?

SF: I believe you have to jump on these things as soon as they come to market – so the novelty of a new ‘thing’ gives higher engagement levels and hopefully attracts new audiences. With Instagram (where we were the first College to use the advertising platform) we received great awareness because it was new and stood out on people’s timelines. Especially for a teenage market, we have to be on-the-ball with digital trends and developments.

NN: Why did you choose Canvas in particular?

SF: I was made aware that they were coming out for advertising by my Account Manager, Tom, and followed up with some research online before agreeing it seemed a great way to push out our brand with lots of rich content. I’m a big advocate for quality content over quantity – and Canvas offers an interesting way to display a range of content which will engage prospects in multiple mediums.

NN: What are your main objectives behind running this Canvas campaign? What results do you hope to see?

SF: As this is the first time anyone has ever used Canvas in the education sector – we’re experimenting and don’t have big expectations on what it will deliver. But ultimately we hope to see engagement and clicks to the relevant site pages. From that we can see what type of content people are engaging with and tailor other ads and comms around the results.

NN: How does this fit into your overall digital marketing strategy?

SF: The Marketing Strategy is supporting the College Business Plan to look at new and innovative ways of teaching courses and engaging students in their studies to make them work and university ready with the relevant skills. The Marketing Strategy is structured to allow for innovative developments, proactive ideas and seizing opportunities alongside the annual requirements of recruitment and business engagement.

Our aim isn’t to compete with colleges, but compete with the whole education industry. Colleges are often seen as a few years behind universities, who are a few years behind commercial businesses. Our team takes this on as a challenge to beat!

NN: What’s next? Which digital innovation will Lewisham Southwark College be pioneering next?

SF: You tell me…what’s coming next that we can jump on?! Well…we want to advertise on Snapchat with the 15 second video option that will be available hopefully soon, and we already have content ready for that. Then I’m sure that Google will release something new soon…the dream has got to be some form of VR advertising in the future as there’s so many cool possibilities there.  

Do you want to stand apart from your competitors with a cutting-edge Canvas and give your prospective students a memorable touch-point with your brand? Then get in touch ; we’d love to discuss what your Canvas could look like…

Article by


Rosie Crompton

Events and Marketing Executive