Instagram Advertising for Schools

Instagram Advertising for Schools

Instagram has a secret power that every school marketer needs to tap into: the ability to build community and connect people. In today’s article, we want to show you how to tap into Instagram’s goodness to strengthen your community and gain new enrolments as part of your overall school marketing strategy. We’ll discuss not only Instagram advertising for schools, but also how to manage your profile and plan your content.

Community building may sound soft and fluffy, but it is a powerhouse marketing tool that will increase almost all of your school’s success indicators. Strong communities have a joint vision and win together. They have low enrolment loss and increased revenue because they naturally attract families with their X factor. Students that are woven into the fabric of your school feel valued and flourish, building memories that make them lifelong fans that will return with their children one day. 

Community building is a long-term culture that needs to be built into your college. This is the main reason why we are so excited about using Instagram for schools as part of our client’s strategies, and why you should include it in your marketing arsenal. In today’s post, we will look at your entire Instagram strategy, from managing organic posting to engaging new families through advertising and strengthening connections with current families. Before we get started, let’s understand who we are talking to on Instagram and how the platform is different from social media marketing tools.


Understanding and Using the Platform

Instagram is a mobile-only, visual storytelling platform that is owned by Facebook. Instagram has over 1 billion active users who access the platform every month with over 60% logging in daily. Instagram users have become a lot more diverse in recent years and while they are known to be a younger audience, over 28% of users are now above the age of 35, which is why Instagram advertising for schools can be so effective. 

Even though Instagram advertising is done on the Facebook platform, it is worth thinking about your strategy and messaging that is specific for the platform, instead of using a cookie-cutter approach for your whole digital marketing strategy.

Instagram is a great platform to reach young families for audience building for Kindy and Primary School enrolments. It is a fantastic medium to use to market directly to teens, who play a huge role in the decision of which school they go to. Instagram is also a great platform to raise your school’s profile directly with potential students.

Your Instagram profile should provide parents and students with a natural behind-the-scenes look at your school. Think of unfiltered candid shots, real stories and unscripted content.

Before we get the fun creative staff, let’s make sure you know how to get started by looking at the technical setup of your account.


Creating your School Business Profile

An Instagram business profile has the additional benefit of being able to add school-specific information to your profile, such as your opening hours, address and phone number. It also has the added benefit of being able to view insights about your stories, posts and followers.

To get started, you will need to have a Facebook business account to set up an Instagram Business profile. Ensure you use your work email address that is linked to your school’s Facebook account to create the new account.

Once the new account is created, choose the option ‘switch to a professional account’ to turn it into a business profile.


Managing Posting

Thankfully, Instagram advertising for schools and post scheduling has become a lot easier because it is now possible to post and schedule content on your desktop using Creator Studio.

To use Creator Studio, your Instagram profile should be a business profile. Follow the prompts when selecting ‘add new Instagram account’ on the Instagram accounts tab on the sidebar.

Instagram posting is about a mix of pre-planned content and unplanned ‘capturing the moment’ content. Plan posts around your school calendar, holidays and special events, but always have Instagram in mind for the day-to-day life of your college too. These on-the-go posts are always higher in engagement. 

When starting out, try to post to your profile at least twice a week, testing out what works and trying new things. As you grow, you will want to grow your team with those who can be trusted to post content regularly. The best school Instagram accounts are those that have embraced open communication as a college-wide culture, rather than restricting content creation to only the marketing department. Due to the nature of our roles, it is impossible to always be at the right place at the right time to capture every moment, but through great leadership, we can train our whole staff to follow guidelines and post engaging content responsibly.

The Meaty Part: Instagram Advertising for Schools

Facebook acquired Instagram a few years ago and because of this, all Instagram advertising is done within Facebook Ads Manager.

The click-through rate on Instagram tends to be lower than that on Facebook and other platforms, which results in a higher cost per click. As a result, it is so important that you intentionally work around the visual aspect as the main focus of the ad. The image/video needs to give people a reason to click on your school’s ad.

When creating the ad, you will have the option to choose a button. I recommend that you always chose a button for your ad so that the button appears as a bar below the image. I also prefer to have a little text on the image (keep this to less than 20% of the image) to really drive home the main call to action for the ad.

Your visual space is so important. I like the use of short and sharp videos for your ads because they give you more capacity to get your message across without relying on your text.

Now that we have a basic framework for our ad formats, I would like to go into further detail about your ad formats.


Instagram advertising images should have either square orientation (1080 x 1080 pixels) or landscape orientation (1200 x 628 pixels). When creating your ad in the Facebook Ads Manager, you will have the option to edit your image for Instagram so you can crop your image within the platform.

Remember that organic posts have the additional option of a portrait image of 1080 x 1350 pixels.


Video consumption is soaring on all social media platforms, including Instagram. Your video must be a maximum of 120 seconds long. I would also ensure that you properly caption your video as many people have their settings on mute initially. Your video ratio should be 4:5 minimum and 6:9 maximum.

Don’t try to say everything you need to say to prospective parents, but rather think about short, sharp videos that will grab people’s attention so that they will click through for more. 


Your text length (caption) is limited to 2,200 characters.


Instagram stories are images or videos that disappear after 24 hours. It’s a great way to encourage parents to take action and drive engagement. Stories Ads also look great with a full-screen ad format that creates an immersive experience.



Hashtags help your content get discovered. To use them effectively, make a hashtags list by studying your competing schools and industry news and incorporate them whenever necessary. You don’t have to use 30 hashtags at once and keep it relevant to the post topic.

When using Instagram strategically to build community, create a school-specific hashtag that your community will learn to search for to find the latest photos and updates. Start by advertising your hashtag in school newsletters and releasing hot off-the-press content to this hashtag. Add a school-specific hashtag to encourage community contributions.


Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights help you to understand your business profile followers, including your reach, website clicks and engagements on specific posts. You can access Instagram Insights by clicking on the ‘Insights’ button at the top of your school’s Instagram profile.

You can also gain additional insights on how your Instagram advertising for schools is tracking by using the Facebook Ads reporting tool. Filter it by ‘Instagram Advertising’ to view click-through rates and conversion rates for specific ads.

This reporting can also be pulled into customised reporting dashboards using tools like Supermetrics.

I hope that this guide has been helpful to you. Over the next few days, take some time to stop doing things for the sake of doing them. Stop ticking the box for a second and get creative with your Instagram strategy. Science has proven that marketers who have more fun have more success, so have fun with your Instagram strategy.

Questions regarding this article? Please email me at mara@robertsdigital.com.au

School Testimonials To Build Social Proof

School Testimonials To Build Social Proof

In today’s article, I will be discussing social proof. When parents are on the fence about choosing your school for their child, school testimonials are one of the most impactful ways to give your school an edge over the competition and help ease the mind of parents making their decision.

Any ideas that I missed? What works well for your school? Remember to join the discussion in the  Marketing Mastery For Schools Facebook Group.

School Testimonials - How to Build Social Proof

by Mara Roberts


Show Transcript

Hi everyone. Today I’m going to be talking about social proof; what it is, why it’s important, how you can build proof, and how you can use it properly for your school.

Basically, the social proof that I’m talking about is testimonials from your parents, students, and alumni. Social proof is really important because it’s one of the main things that parents look at when looking for a school and they are always looking for a justification for their decision.

If they are deciding whether they should choose your school or not, part of their justification in the emotional buying decision that they make is well, is it a school that other people are going to? And are these families that I look up to and can relate to? If they can see themselves fitting into your community, that’s a big tick in the box for them.


How to Build Social Proof

How do you build a big repertoire of parent testimonials? Well, it takes a lot of intentional effort from the marketing team. So I schedule a little bit of time every month to focus specifically on building testimonials. It’s one of the biggest tools that you can have in your toolkit as a marketer.

Video Testimonials

One way you can do that is to build videos, a video library of parent testimonials. You can do simple testimonials with family in front of the camera, or you can do more documentary-style testimonial videos.

Google Maps and Facebook Testimonials

Another way is to build your testimonials on Google Maps or Facebook. Whenever a parent emails into the marketing department or the principal to give great feedback, say, “Thank you so much. Would you mind giving us a review on Facebook or Google Maps?” That will really help with your online profile as well.

Request Testimonials

You can also email specific families asking them if they would like to give a testimonial. You could actually periodically do this when someone joins your college. When they’re six months into their experience at the college, send them an email and ask them if they would like to give a testimonial as part of the induction process for new families.

Social Engagement

Another way to get social proof which is less obvious but really works is whenever you have a social media post that you are planning to use for advertising, boost that to your current families first so that current families comment on that post and say how lovely your school is, how much they’re enjoying the community, and then boost that post to other audiences that you are planning to advertise to. That really helps for things like open mornings and events or musicals where families are commenting and engaging with other, and then you boost it to a new audience.

Students and Alumni

Don’t forget to include your students. Student testimonials are also very important, especially for the middle and secondary years, where students are more involved in that decision-making process. And they’re kind of talking it through with their parents.

Have a Parents Presence

Another way to build social proof, when people actually come and check your college out is to have your parents visible at open events and talking about your college whenever you have prospective families at the college, to have your current parents and families there to talk about their experience at the college. It’s a great way just to give an authentic look into your college community.


How To Use Your Social Proof Effectively

So now that you’ve spent a lot of time actually building that social proof, how do you use it effectively so that it maximises your return? First of all, you need to give parents what they need so that they can go out and talk to the community about your college. So equip parents with good news stories, articles and bragging materials so that they can go and talk about your college to others. You know, mums love to talk. So it will happen if you provide them with the right information at the right time.

Emails and Websites

You can also use these testimonials in follow-up emails to your enrolment inquiries. It can be a video, or even just a little testimonial quote at the bottom of an email with information about your college, that really helps people to put the parent perspective on top of their mind.

Testimonials in Advertising

If you are doing Facebook ads for your school or any social media advertising for your school, you may want to consider a layered approach, when you know that it’s going to take parents a certain amount of time to enrol in your school and that they’re going to want to know about certain aspects of your college.

One of those is testimonials from other parents. So layer your advertising to your audience and include testimonials, whether it be a video testimonial or text testimonials in your advertising. You can also include testimonials in your open event ads and things like that.


Your website is another place where you can use your testimonials. Have scrolling testimonials in the footer of your website. You can have testimonials that are specific to the content that parents are reading about so if they are on the primary school page, have primary school parents talking specifically about the primary school programme. Giving their testimonial about the primary school programme or the head of school.

When you use testimonials, it’s worthwhile to include a photo of the family or the person that’s giving the testimonial, this makes it feel more authentic, and people can put a face to the testimonials.

Another place that you can use your testimonials is as extra content on things like your brochures, your advertisements, and your prospectus. It’s very important to have information about your different offerings and programmes and then to back it up with your testimonials.

I hope that you found this useful and that you spend some monthly time building your testimonials, not only building a database of testimonials but also using it effectively in your marketing. If you want to join the discussion, you can do so in the Marketing Mastery for Schools Facebook group. If you are not already we’d love to have you in the group, I’m sure there will be a little bit of discussion in the group about this topic this week.  

Facebook Page Benchmarks

Facebook Page Benchmarks

In today’s article, I will be answering a question from our Facebook group. The question was from Sarah Winston, she asked, how do we know if our Facebook page is actually performing well and how do we benchmark against other schools? Listen to the podcast or read the transcript for my practical tips.

Any ideas that I missed? What works well for your school? Remember to join the discussion in the  Marketing Mastery For Schools Facebook Group.

Show Transcript

 Today I’m going to be talking about how you can measure the success of your school’s Facebook page. I’m answering a question from Sarah Winston in the Marketing Mastery for Schools Facebook Group and she asked, “How do we know if our Facebook page is actually performing well and how do we benchmark against other schools?” I’m going to go through a few principles for you and I want this to be a practical podcast so feel free to open your Facebook page in another tab and go through it as you read through.


Looking at the home page of your Facebook page the first thing that you want to look at is the reviews. If you have your reviews showing on your Facebook page make sure that this isn’t just an abandoned area that you’re not really nurturing, make sure that you have good reviews up there. If you don’t, get people to start reviewing your college. Whenever you get a great review in or a happy parent emailing you, tell them, “Great, thank you so much. Do you want to post that as a review on our Facebook page as well?.” I’ve noticed that a lot of schools don’t even look at this area and they have bad reviews lingering there that they’re not aware of.


The next thing to look at is your response rates. The response rate shows how quick you are to respond when people message your page. If you have the ‘send message’ option available on your page and they message you and you don’t actually reply to them, then it shows on your Facebook page that you are very unresponsive and that’s not a good look for your school.

This is a very hard thing to do but try to have your team reply within an hour of someone’s message (early morning hours excluded of course). Another option is to have an automatic reply after people message you on Facebook. This is a message that gets sent automatically to them and says something like, “Thank you so much for your message. We’ll endeavour to answer you within one working day or within an hour and we’ll get to you shortly.” That just sets their expectations of what to expect when they have messaged you.

Quality over Quantity

So when you’re looking at your actual page a lot of schools try to focus on the number of likes they have and, yes it’s great if you have a few thousand likes on your Facebook page. But, that’s not necessarily all good news for a school. The thing that’s really important for a school is the quality of the audience. The reason for this is that when you post to your Facebook page organically Facebook actually decides based on users’ previous actions who they think will be interested in what you just posted.

If you have an audience that really is a bit far removed from your school and they’re not really interested in your school they’re generally not going to be engaged at all. If you have two or three thousand people on your page and more than half of those are disengaged and not really interested in your brand then you’re really going to be fighting for attention in a newsfeed with this large, disengaged audience. The chance of you reaching that niche audience that’s really interested in what you have to say is a lot lower.

Building a More Engaged Audience

Instead of focusing on the number of likes that you have, focus on the quality of the audience that you have. What I recommend first of all is that you get your current parents to join your Facebook page. When people enrol in your college I always recommend that the marketing department send out a welcome to the college, “this is your expectations for communications and weekly newsletters and things like that, and be sure to like our Facebook page.” Make it really easy for your current parents to like your Facebook page.

A similar thing can be done with enrollment inquiries so get everyone that’s inquiring at your college to like your Facebook page and try to build a local audience. I don’t really recommend doing Facebook ads for likes specifically; I just don’t find it effective. I think focusing on quality and organically building those likes is the way to go.

Insights – Pages to Watch

In terms of Sarah’s questions regarding benchmarking, what you can do is go to the insights tab for your page in business manager. You’ll notice there on the overview page, if you scroll down to the bottom there’s a section called pages to watch. You can actually choose up to five other organisations that you want to watch. You obviously want to add yourself to the list and then it actually compares how you are going in terms of your page likes, your post engagements, posts from last week, posts from this week, and the engagement that you got.

That gives you a benchmark and it’s best to look at this once a week just to know week by week how you’re going in terms of your engagement. Not every page is worth watching. Make sure that you choose the schools that are doing really innovative things in terms of their social media and you’re not just choosing a school necessarily that’s directly in your geographic area or your direct competitor. Rather, benchmark against a school that’s doing innovative things in social media.

Insights – Reach

The next thing that you want to get an idea about is, based on how many likes you have for your page how much reach are you getting for each of your posts? On the home page of the insights tab you will see a list of your recent posts and you can see all your posts if you want to. Then, you can see how much reach you got. That reach is paid versus organic but it will distinguish between the two so you want to look at the organic reach.

If you know that you have, say, 1,500 followers on your Facebook page but then you start to see the history of your posts and that you’re only reaching 40 or 50 people then you know that you have a problem and you need to change the content. You need to either add more photos and videos and engaging content or you need to change the topics that you are posting about. You can go through that list and see which posts are doing the best and that will give you ideas for future content to post.

Insights – Page Views

The next interesting insight to look at is ‘page views’, which gives you an idea of how visible your page is on Facebook. The page views tab tells you how many people are actually looking at your Facebook page and not just seeing you in the newsfeed. And you can actually see how they found your page so whether they searched for you on Facebook or Google.

If you know that you’re getting 20 or 30 people visiting your page every day, it gives you an indication of how visible your page is in search results and how many people are actually searching for your school specifically on Facebook and visiting your page. The most important thing to look at that I mentioned before, is engagement and the quality of your audience. To measure how engaged people are, there used to be on Facebook pages a little phrase, people talking about this, and they would tell you the number of people talking about your page. That would be the number of people that are engaging with your posts.

That’s no longer visible on the home page but you can still see it. When you’re in the insights tab on the left-hand side you’ll see people and you’ll be able to see all the demographics of people and the age groups of how engaged they are.

Insights – People Engaged

When you look at the ‘people engaged’ tab you can actually see the data of people that are engaging with your page and they also give you statistics based on audience gender and age group. You can see which age group specifically is talking about your page the most and that is the most important group to focus on.

So that wraps up my audit on your Facebook page. I encourage you to go through, do a quick audit of your page and write down a few points of what you think you can improve in the next few weeks and work through it slowly. Good luck.

Your Social Media Plan

Your Social Media Plan



Your plan for the year

How can you plan your social media for the whole year ahead?

As a marketer, you have these sort of peak seasons and off-peak seasons, and you have to keep your momentum going through both seasons for your promotions. I’m going to be specifically at Facebook advertising, even though you can apply these principles to any other social media platforms, as well.

Community management

There are two aspects of Facebook advertising typically. There’s one side, which is our page and community management, where we are updating parents with photos of our students. We’re giving out all the good news of what’s happening in the college. But then we have the other side. And that’s our Facebook ads.

We can tie those two together and leverage our efforts for better results.  Looking at the community management side, we often have to wear two hats for school marketers: we have to cater to our parents and prospects.

I find that often many schools have that internal news. They update their Facebook page with photos of their students at sporting activities, concerts, and individual students’ images, and they have lots of parents interactions. Still, they haven’t reached an external audience that has never heard of the college before. 

I want to encourage school marketers to focus on reaching those unreached audiences with engaging content on their Facebook pages. Such as:

  •  Engaging video
  •  Blog post, where people have to click through to your website
  •  Engaging posts,  just ask people to like and comment, and you get lots of engagement on your Facebook post.
  • Create a download as a resource for people to use.  

The goal here is to reach new people with this content. 

Custom audiences

You may need to boost this content to audiences you’re trying to reach so it can be part of your weekly growing strategy. The reason why we do that is that we can use something called custom audiences. On Facebook, you can create a custom audience for each of those activities. So for when someone views a video, you can target people who view that video, target people who visit your website, target Facebook page engagements.

During these off-peak seasons, your goal is to build audiences and put all these people into a bucket, so when it comes the time to promote your open morning, you have an audience that’s already warmed up and interested in your college.

The decision to choose which school to go to is a long term decision. It can take parents anywhere from a month to a few years. That’s why you need to warm up your audience during that decision making phase. 

Custom conversions

Once you have that community management plan going, you need to look specifically at your advertising. A few principles will help you achieve overall with your ads:

1. Create custom conversions.

I visit school websites quite often. And the first thing I see is that they don’t have a Facebook pixel on their site. So Facebook cannot track how many people they’re sending to the website, and it’s not giving Facebook any data back. Create custom conversion for the actions you want people to take, so if you create an ad for people to register for an open morning, you need to have that as a custom conversion. You need to track those conversions so Facebook can see how people are performing on your website and how the ads are doing. 

2. Optimise AdWords for conversions.

That’s a setting that you can choose on the ad when you’re setting up your campaign. That means Facebook knows how to tweak its algorithm to get more people who are happy to take the actions you want them to take. It will increase the quality of your audience. 

3. Facebook.

Facebook within the ad set, when you have everything set up, and you’ve had your ad running for a day, and you’ve gotten a few impressions, go back into the ad set. Facebook will have a graph that shows you how your ads should be performing according to the budget that you’ve set. Facebook marketing requires that you go in and check your campaigns. Look at all the click-throughs and click-through rates, impressions, and conversions metrics and try to do that daily.

Now you have your community management plan and your plan for your open mornings or those peak seasons.

Questions regarding this article? Please email me at mara@robertsdigital.com.au
How to promote your school on social media

How to promote your school on social media

Success with social media advertising can be explained in four key steps. In this article, we summarise the framework to work through before you launch your next campaign.  


Plan your peak and off-peak promotions

The first thing to start with is to take out your calendar and highlight key promotional dates. These dates are when you will be promoting certain events or running key campaigns, such as open events, peak enrolment seasons and scholarship campaigns. You will want each event/promotion to have a six-week promotional time block.

Now that you have your larger promotions highlighted, it’s time to look at what your off-peak promotions will be. These will be audience-building and awareness, and promotional items such as videos, new content and opt-ins.

Getting clear on your calendar about your peak and off-peak promotions will help you always have a strategy for your promotions and will build audiences during off-peak seasons so that they are ready to take action for your next major promotion.


Build your audience

The way to build your audience is to post content where people can engage with you. It can be video content on your school website that visitors can view. If your website has a blog, you can create great value articles that people can click through and engage with. You can also have content on your Facebook or Instagram page, where they like or comment on your content.

Remember that during quiet times, it is good to have a regular support email list.

You build audiences by creating something called a ‘custom audience’ on Facebook, where you can retarget people who have visited your website, subscribed to your email list, or engaged with your page. During those off-season times in between promotional times, your focus is getting as many people in your target market to have a touchpoint with your brand. During promotional times, you’re going to retarget that audience, which will significantly decrease your cost per acquisition or your cost per action.


Structure your advertising

How do you structure your advertising to get opt-ins? I structure the account based on industry standards, and the industry standard has three layers for your promotion. The top layer is called the ‘top of the funnel’, and that is going out to ‘cold audiences’ who don’t know anything about you, haven’t heard about you, or haven’t engaged with you before. You get to select these audiences by targeting people based on their interests and likes or geographic area. When you’re targeting this top of funnel audience, which is supposed to be cold, be sure to exclude any of your current customers or current people who have opted into your email list. You’ll find that this is the area where it’s most expensive to get an opt-in, but it’s a cold audience and you are reaching them for the first time. Make sure that you have something like a video that people can watch. I recommend a 32nd to a-minute video with engaging content that people can click through to your website.

Once you’ve done the top of funnel targeting, you’ve got those ads running and they’re working for you, you can then build on the next layer or your ‘middle of funnel’. It will make your ads cost-effective and will bring the cost of the whole campaign down. Your middle of funnel ads go to people who are lukewarm; by lukewarm, I mean that they saw your previous top of funnel ad. For example, if you had a campaign that was a video with the chance for people to opt-in, you would do it in the middle of the funnel to target people who watched 75% of that video but didn’t opt-in because they’re interested in what you have to say.

What you want to do next is target the ‘bottom of the funnel’ or the warmest audience. The bottom of the funnel ad targets people on your email list. These people have actually opted into your email list or opted in to say that they are interested, but they haven’t made a purchase. This audience will be the smallest in size, but it’s the most targeted. You can reach them in a cost-effective way and get low-cost opt-ins from people engaged with your audience or brand. At the bottom of the funnel, you can also target people who have visited the website but haven’t opted through or opted in, purchased your product, or registered for your event.


Use the Pixel

Ensure that you have a low cost per acquisition in your social media campaign. If you haven’t set up conversion pixel, that is the key pin to your whole strategy. When advertising something like an open morning, have a conversion pixel where you track every registration for that open morning.



Questions regarding this article? Please email me at mara@robertsdigital.com.au

Social Media – Marketing Your Business

Social Media – Marketing Your Business

Social media is a great tool for you to get new business, but don’t forget, it’s a social platform, not a sales platform. Your content needs to be fun, and social while meeting your business goals.

The options are endless for business when it comes to social media, and the main platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can even create pages, profiles and ads on each of these platforms that will help you get new business.

How Do You Get Started?

The best way to get started is to create a schedule to regularly contact your audience. I always recommend updating your page or your profiles at least once a day. Your posts should be fun and social. Don’t forget you’re on a social platform.

People will tune out if you’re only talking about your business. Your content should be customer-focused and not business-focused. People are there to be entertained or informed. Keep the ideas rolling with fun posts. The next step is to use mixed media with texts, photos and videos. That way, you will keep things interesting.

Try starting with Facebook. Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms and is also one of the easiest to master. Start with creating an innovative page, one full of photos, ideas and great content, and then set up campaign objectives if you’re going to go into advertising.

You need to measure everything and the best thing about Facebook is that you can split test your campaigns. You will start to build up your knowledge of what works and doesn’t work. Test everything. That’s the key to success on Facebook.

Action Steps To Get Started

Number one, get social. The time is now, there have never been more opportunities to get started with social media platforms. If you need good tips and advice, I have a members’ area that will help you set up Facebook ads in a step-by-step video tutorial. You can also contact me if you need any help with your social media strategy or management.