Using storytelling in your marketing strategy is nothing new, but Facebook Canvas allows institutions to tell their story in the most creative way yet…

What is Facebook Canvas?

As the name suggests, the mobile-only ad format provides brands with a full-screen blank canvas on which they can use a combination of images, videos and call-to-action buttons to bring their story to life. Upon first inspection, a Canvas looks like an ordinary Facebook ad, that is until the user clicks on it. Then it opens up into a fully immersive and interactive experience, where the user can tilt, swipe and scroll through a creative, engaging narrative.

What’s so great about it?

Many brands have already had great success with Canvas; tech brand ASUS saw a 42% increase in clicks on their ad, and 70% of people who explored their Canvas clicked through to their website. Citroen reached 6.34 million people who spent 53 seconds engaging with their Canvas, and Carnival Cruise Line reached 7.7 million people, half of whom watched the entire ad.

But cars and cruise ships aside, Canvas can provide universities and colleges with an endless scope of opportunities too. The student journey is a complex and emotional decision making process – choosing where and what to study is a huge life-changing decision after all! Canvas ads allow you to engage with your prospects emotions by fully immersing them inside your institution, allowing them to experience a taste of what life could be like if they choose to study with you. This new ad format really gives institutions the opportunity to show off, and set themselves apart from their competitors with a memorable and innovative brand awareness and direct response strategy.

Here’s one we made earlier…

Here’s an example Canvas ad that we’ve put together for the fictitious ‘University of Fibchester’ for generating late applications. The ad promoting a competition to win tickets to nearby ‘Fibchester Festival’, in order to generate brand awareness and build a relationship with their prospects, whilst also showing off the fun elements of what their local area has to offer. The ad also includes the call to action ‘Enquire Now’, with the University’s top three USPs, encouraging students to click through to the University website.

How could you use Canvas?

Whilst a Canvas will position your institution as cutting edge in the here and now, your competitors will soon follow, so identify your USPs and position them in centre stage to stand out from the crowd.

  • If you have a stunning campus, show it off with tilt-to-pan images, that allow the student to experience a panoramic view by tilting their phone.
  • Great clubs and societies at your institution? Allow prospects to explore these by swiping through an image carousel.
  • Get prospects excited about your facilities or what the local area has to offer with video content. If you have superior science labs, for example, show your chemistry students work. Or, take prospects on a mini tour around your town’s hotspots.
  • Include call to action buttons to find out more, download a prospectus or enter a competition.

With the same targeting options as all Facebook ads, as long as you get your messaging right, Canvas ads can be used effectively throughout the student conversion funnel.

  • As an initial point of contact, Canvas ads are a sure way to make an impression on your prospective students. Build a custom audience, based on age, location or interests, to target your Canvas to.
  • Use Canvas in your conversion strategy, retargeting a carefully thought-out ad towards those who have applied to your institution, but not yet accepted a place.
  • Create a specific Canvas for Clearing, giving prospects who are looking to make a quick decision a whistle-stop tour of what you have to offer.

This unique opportunity to allow students to immerse themselves within your story presents us with some interesting and exciting ideas, but, your Canvas will only ever be as good as the story you’re telling, and the creative assets you’re using to tell it.

This is something we can help with – so get in touch if you’d like to chat about creating a Canvas together!

Article by


Rosie Crompton

Events and Marketing Executive