The growth of Facebook as an advertising platform is well documented and the success of its share price (following that awkward IPO) is a clear indicator that they’re doing something right with their commercial services. As a digital only advertising agency and Facebook Business Partner (the first outside the US), we know better than most how to extract the full functionality from social media advertising on Facebook.

Why do we use Facebook for further education advertising?

One of the key features of Facebook is the level of custom targeting we can create, which helps us to reduce wastage and focus budgets on those students most likely to convert. There’s also the overwhelming factor of usage amongst the student market, with over 1.5 million 14-16 year olds, 3 million 17-19 year olds and 24 million potential adult learners using Facebook.


Identifying a target audience is one of the first steps of any digital campaign and Facebook’s got the potential to reach even the most niche of audiences. We’ve already touched on reaching adult learners but what about targeting parents?

There’s a wealth of other options relevant to the education sector. Location for instance is crucial for recruiting local students whilst education stage can be used to identify HE at FE candidates. Interest targeting also comes in handy when promoting apprenticeships and vocational qualifications. Or if you’re feeling punchy, target competitor institutions through ‘Likes’. Other targeting options available on Facebook include:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Job
  • Life events
  • Likes – brand connections, book/music/sport/film interests, etc
  • Apps
  • Groups
  • Mobile device use
  • Purchase behaviour
  • Travel


The next step in our social media strategy is the content, what are you going to say to this audience? Will you split the copy for different age groups in your target audience? Do you want engagement, likes, enquiries or open day registrations?

Having answers to these questions helps lock down your messaging and ensure you focus on a clear and measurable outcome. This can be done in a number of ways; questions like this one from University Campus Barnsley are a great example of how to start a conversation on Facebook.

There are also variations depending on the type of content being promoted. Facebook offers multiple ad formats and consideration should be taken for each with bold call to actions balanced with images and lighter text where needed.

E.g. For an open day it’s crucial to get the date in the title – sounds simple but is so often missed.

Find out how we did this for a West Midlands college recently

Shareable content

We’ve already mentioned the huge numbers of students available for you to target on Facebook and one of the quickest ways to maximise this reach is to create shareable content. Every marketing team dreams of content that goes viral but a more consistent and reliable approach is to give students a reason to share your content.

Lambeth College have recently had success with this through a competition post that reached over 58,000 relevant 14-16 year olds and generated over 800 responses from one post.


You can find out more about how we tackle digital and social media marketing for Further Education here.

Article by


Charlie Penrose

Creative Director