When higher education marketers and admission teams think of social media, most associate it with their organic institutional pages where prospects, students, and alumni can all connect. And while organic social media is a great way to engage these audiences, paid social media should not be overlooked when it comes to lead generation.
Social media platforms offer higher education marketers turnkey, hyper-focused targeting opportunities to get in front of the right prospects to not only build their brands but also generate leads.
Take a minute and think about all the demographic information we put into our social media profiles: our age, our gender, where we live, where we went to school, our jobs, our interests etc. And over time these platforms continue to collect information on us based on our likes, shares, posts, articles read, people or places we follow, etc. When you combine all of these data points, it paints a comprehensive picture of a person—which is perfect for marketers doing laser-focused advertising.
Over the last year, social media advertising has made several advancements with formats, one of the most notable being the introduction of lead generation cards. Facebook rolled out “context cards” in late 2015, and it’s been evolving ever since. When someone clicks on your Facebook lead ad, a form opens with the person’s contact information automatically populated, based on the information they’ve shared with Facebook, like their name and e-mail address. The fields being pre-filled with the user’s information makes for easy submission without the user ever having to leave the Facebook environment. What’s better still is Facebook also allows you to add custom fields to your lead generation form, making it easy for you to collect additional data from your prospect (like interested field of study, for example).
And the cherry on top, since Facebook owns Instagram: You guessed it! Lead generation ads are available on Instagram as well. It is important to note, however, that there are a few differences in functionality and appearance of lead generation ads on Facebook versus Instagram that should be considered before launching your campaign on these distinct platforms.
Late to the game, but after much anticipation, LinkedIn announced their Lead Gen Forms in April. Similar in concept to Facebook, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are also auto-populated with information from the user’s LinkedIn profile. Once a user submits the form, you’ll get a comprehensive lead that includes that person’s name and contact info, company name, seniority, job title, location, and more. After form submission, the user receives an in-app “thank you” page that immediately connects them to your content, or you can send them to your site to learn more. Currently Lead Gen Forms are available only for Sponsored Update ads on LinkedIn for mobile, but it sounds like it will be extended to Sponsored InMail campaigns on mobile and desktop later this year.
As for other social media platforms, rumor has it that Snapchat is testing out similar lead generation ads, so you may be able to snap your way to leads in the near future as well—stay tuned!
As you are considering your overarching social media plan, be sure to consider paid advertising opportunities, including lead generation. It has proven itself to be a cost-effective means to drive quality leads! If you need help getting a social media lead generation campaign up and running for your institution, contact us!
You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin.