NEW WAYS TO ADVERTISE ON INSTAGRAM: Social media advertising isn’t going anywhere soon. In the past few months, Instagram has announced new ways businesses can advertise on the platform, including the ability to convert influencers’ posts into ads. The latest opportunity for advertising on the platform comes on its “Explore” tab. The Explore tab is an area within the app that allows users to search and explore new content that otherwise may not appear on their feed. Although this new advertising opportunity may come across to some as just another way to generate revenue for the platform, it could be lucrative for businesses looking to improve engagement and conversion opportunities. According to Instagram, around 50% of its 1 billion users visit the Explore tab every month where they search for new content, posts, people, and businesses. The role out of Explore tab advertisements will be slow until Instagram proves them to be cost-effective and strategically sound.
Why you should care: Although Facebook has more users and more businesses advertising on its platform, Instagram’s advertising business is growing faster than Facebook. Enrollment teams should consider using Instagram as an advertising channel because there’s no doubt that prospective students are active on the platform. In fact, 64% of all users are between the ages of 18-34 years old. What’s great about the Explore tab is that the feature allows users to search for content, people, and accounts, but also automatically generates content based on what the user has clicked, and engaged with, in the past. That means enrollment teams could run ads to prospective students who have engaged with their University’s Instagram account or even posts related to the topic of college or grad school — like a post on affording college, for example — on Instagram. Just remember that your ads should be educational, relevant, and never interruptive!
TO GET VIEWS, YOU NEED TO BREAK THE RULES OF CONVENTIONAL VIDEO: You don’t need a high-tech camera or famous actors to shoot the best video these days. In fact, some of the most engaging and highest viewed videos on the internet are recorded on a smartphone. It's not about the technology behind the content anymore; the future of video content (and content in general) is about passion. You need to show your audience that you’re highly passionate (and knowledgeable) about the topic at hand. According to Google, “When people are choosing what to watch, relating to their passions is 1.6x more important than whether content has high production quality.” Building video content around passions or even niches can help you gain authority in those spaces and share that authority with others who are also passionate about those same topics. Videos should tell viewers what they want to hear, not what you want them to hear. In other words, be educational and enthusiastic! Viewers will keep coming back to watch your videos if they feel as if they’ll learn something new, get a good laugh, or feel enlightened each time they engage with your videos.
Why you should care: Higher education institutions need to continue to leverage video content to stay relevant and fight for screen time in this age of short attention spans. Video content needs to be strategic and align to prospective students’ passions (not necessarily about fundraising or the addition of a new faculty member). Instead, focus on the niche passions of your prospective students which your academic programs meet or offer. This could be a short video series highlighting new discoveries in marine biology where education is the primary focus and learning about your school’s academic program in biology is secondary. It could even be a quick 2-3 minutes about the unique ski club your school offers by ranking the area’s best skiing. The key is to be educational. Keep students coming back because they know they’ll learn something new about their passion each time they watch your videos.
FACEBOOK REINSTATES REACH ESTIMATES: How great would it be if you could re-engage users on Facebook who came to your website last week? Or even advertise to your website’s blog subscribers on Facebook? With Facebook’s Custom Audiences, that ability exists. Reach Estimates is just a part of this tool. Reach Estimates allows advertisers to estimate the audience size for a Custom Audience campaign. For over a year, Reach Estimates was sidelined after researchers at Northeastern University discovered a security issue that could allow users to infer certain attributes about a Facebook user (like gender, nationality, etc). Now the feature has been reinstated with a couple of security updates (nothing that will impact users).
Why you should care: Facebook has flaws. We all know that. But it’s still one of the best tools (if not the best tool) for advertising because it's got the largest user base and best targeting capabilities. Without advertising your new program guide or boosting that latest social media posts on Facebook, however, only a small fraction of your posts will ever end up on your audience’s timelines. With Reach Estimates back, admissions teams can more easily build and estimate audience sizes for advertising on Facebook. This means that advertising dollars can be better allocated for ads depending on audience sizes of prospective students for any academic program. Welcome back, Reach Estimates!