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Using Social Media to Capitalize on Expanded Interest in Online Education

March 23, 2021

According to a 2019 estimate by market research store Research and Markets, the online education market will reach $350 billion (US) by 2025, due to the introduction of flexible learning technologies within corporate and education sectors around the world.

This is a tremendous projection—but it was made before a crippling pandemic forced an enhancement of distance learning capabilities across the globe. Over past year, colleges and universities have had to augment their offerings not as a supplemental option for an online community, but for their entire student body.

It’s been an arduous journey for many institutions, with various pros and cons still being navigated in their second year of execution. But going forward with recruitment of students for the Fall 2021 semester and beyond, locales that are now effectively utilizing these fast-tracked changes have been presented an opportunity to lure new swaths of students—ones no longer unfamiliar with the online education experience—into enhanced distance learning scenarios.

The Martin Group has worked with clients like Excelsior College and Western Governors University, higher education entities who’ve specialized in online class options for years. Theirs is a model that was established to appeal to those seeking affordable, flexible, and convenient degree paths to intermix with their work-life balance. But now, this market has expanded to both high school and college students who’ve excelled within this web-based model, as well as professionals who’ve, while working from home, found the capacity to pursue education opportunities or additional career training within their new hybrid office-home construct.

These individuals will be a more receptive audience for online education opportunities in the coming months and years. For those interested in how to reach them, social media is a sensible and effective place to start. Not only does the medium inhabit the same space these potential students reside, but its cost and hyper-focused capabilities make it a necessary component of any marketing plan.

Before you embark on such efforts, there are many things to consider, depending on your overall aims or specialized demographic of your desired audience. But when it comes to content, there are suggestions that can help frame your messaging to reach a wider audience for your enhanced distance learning operation.

Here are four to consider for your college or university. 

Tell your story—and why it matters

On-campus life has always been a quality that distinguished one higher education destination from another. So what happens when there is no physical campus to tout? This makes extolling the benefits of classes and a degree from your institution—whether because of class size, career-focused online courses, instructor accessibility, the chance to join an enduring tradition, or become part of a well-connected alumni network—more important than ever. Line up these advantages, and within the concise constraints of social media messaging, use them to set your degrees apart from both regional and national competition.   

Connect with testimonials

Testimonial advertising is ubiquitous within the education sector for a reason—it works. Potential students want to see themselves in those who’ve come before. They want to know their choices have been made by previous students, and that these decisions have paid big dividends. Testimonial-related posts from those who’ve thrived after completing their online degree program connect with those still reticent about pursuing this previously non-traditional form of education and help them feel more comfortable with what has, over the past year, become a much more normal means of education.    

Incorporate short-form video

Over the last three years, video content has become the new norm across social media—but the most effective video content is being delivered in shorter and shorter helpings. More than 50% of social media videos that are 90 seconds or less are watched to completion. This gives higher education entities an opportunity to create content that speaks directly to its possible students in a direct and concise manner; answer pointed questions about online ed in an engaging manner; and exude a personality that could be reflective of the classes, programs, or college/university as a whole.     

Push it all with paid

After determining all the elements to incorporate into your social media content, you still need people to see it. In the seemingly infinite galaxy of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the days of reaching a significant amount of your followers or potential followers via straight organic social media distribution are over. But by intermingling a determined boost budget with your organic (non-boosted) content—utilized to supercharge targeted messaging on a regularly scheduled basis—you can expand your scope to reach a much larger audience. Ideally, this reach will turn general awareness into conversions such as requests for more information or course sign-ups, and fill your now-robust online programs with an ever-growing group of eager students.   

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