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Best Practices for Using Paid Ads on Facebook and Instagram

6 min read

Keystone Education Group

Those working in higher education marketing will already know the value of using Facebook and Instagram campaigns or Meta ads. 

They are an excellent marketing tool to reach prospective students and as of April 2022, there were 481 million users aged between 18-24 across Facebook and Instagram - 22% of its audience. 
As experts in marketing analysis and Meta campaigns, we've come up with tips and best practices to help you achieve better results with your campaigns. 

1. Optimize your social media creatives 

The first thing your audience sees in a campaign is your photo or video. The effectiveness of your imagery determines whether the audience will pay attention to the ad.
Images and videos work best in square (1:1) dimension, as these fit for all placements and can take up a lot of 'real estate' on the screen. Horizontal assets also work for all placements and sometimes vertical assets also do. Sometimes we can optimise further than this.
Ideally, your video should be no longer than two minutes, with the first few seconds being eye-catching.
  • If you have amazing images and videos that cannot be supplied in other sizes, the 1:1 ratio can also be used in most placements as well.
Here are some examples of the assets on campaigns we have done:

Image Ad                  Carousel Ad                  Video Ad

  • Our delivery team, who have experience running hundreds of Campaigns, decide on a case-by-case basis if Retargeting Campaigns would be better run as separate ads/posts within the same Campaign or on a carousel, based largely on the assets provided. If you have a strong preference for one or the other, please let us know and we will see if we can accommodate this.


  • Branding is key. We highly recommend that all social media creatives include school names or logos. The title of the program or any other information you intend to leave an impression on the audience can also be included if space permits. We don’t recommend a lot of text.
  • Designing images or selecting photos with bright colors. As students scroll through social media, sharp color contrast or bright colors are more likely to catch their attention and result in higher engagement.
  • Avoiding generic or commercial content. Make content with a personal touch. Social media creatives should contain relevant, helpful content that will help students visualize the institution or program. Content such as campus views, classroom moments, and a fun student lifestyle are most engaging.
  • Include subtitles in videos. Students can still see your message when their devices are muted. 

 2. Concise and engaging ad text

  • Keep your message simple and concise. This will help students understand it more quickly. The ad text should not exceed 125 characters, or two or three sentences.
  • Avoid general text. It is important that the text is relevant to what the campaign is attempting to promote. Boost your ads' impact by emphasizing an eye-catching point in the text.   

3. Understand your target audience and geography

Audiences & Creatives

Do you have a program-focused or institution-focused campaign? That makes a difference in what types of creatives you should send. 

My campaign is about drawing interest to my institution:

  • We recommend sending a video and targeting it to the degree level(s) you’re promoting. Video campaigns offer you the opportunity to get the best reach and engagement that you’re seeking and highest ROI.

My campaign is about drawing interest to specific programs:

  • When promoting based on program, we recommend doing carousel ads with 1:1 ratio images for each program. For the best impact, make sure that the different programs you feature fall into the same or related categories. 

These ads offer tailored program options for students who are interested in studying in a specific discipline.

  • For example: Providing three program options for students interested in Engineering will target your campaign more efficiently than a campaign offering three program options for Design, Business, and Engineering.

If you don’t have a range of programs within a specific discipline to promote, we would still recommend you do a carousel to feature similar categories. For example:, Finance, Management, and Marketing, rather than Business, History, and Fashion.

Please note that while the vast majority of programs are fine to promote, Meta has restrictions on what can be promoted on its platform and, very occasionally, this can mean campaigns are rejected. If this happens, we will of course promote other content for you.

Targeting Geography 

  • Try to target countries within the same Tier. The Cost Per Conversion and Cost Per Clicks (CPC) vary greatly across countries. As a result of Meta's algorithm, the majority of the budget will be allocated to countries with cheaper CPCs in order to optimize the results. This, however, will result in an uneven distribution of the budget. There will be more leads or clicks coming from one or two specific target countries rather than across all geo-targeted countries. 

Especially if it's a traffic campaign, the landing page should ideally be designed so it is attractive to those who are new to your school; people who have likely just heard about your school. If you are aiming to capture leads, we would recommend removing link outs and a lead form that is prominent on the page, with not so many fields for people to fill in. For example, five to ten fields.

Branding is very important. We recommending your branding is very bold and incorporates school colors. A few examples of aspects of a landing page can work well (especially if they are not already included in the Retargeting campaign) are embedded YouTube videos and testimonials from students/graduates.



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