Social Media

Promoting Your School: Traditional Advertising vs Paid Social Media Advertising

It's time to update your school's admissions advertising and take advantage of more targeted, cost-effective methods.

When it comes to advertising your school to prospective pupils and their families, are you still using outdated methods?

Traditionally, schools have placed advertisements in local newspapers or on local radio shows. But times have changed, and there are now different, more effective options available, such as paid social media advertisements.

We’ve compiled some statistics on the value of these three forms of advertising, and explain why we think that you should seriously consider paid social media ads to fill empty places at your school.

To give the figures some context, we’ll first explain some marketing terms you’ll need to become familiar with.

What is ‘Reach’?

Newspapers and radio shows sell their advertising slots on the promise of an extensive ‘reach’ — the total number of people who will be exposed to your advertisement.

This is approximated through the size of their audience. For a popular local radio station or newspaper, this raw figure is often very high. However, it is almost meaningless if you don’t know how many interested people you are reaching.

What is ‘Targeting’?

The main difference between paid social media ads and traditional advertising is the ability to target a specific audience.

While the options vary depending on which channel you use, paid social media advertising can be targeted at a particular demographic using precise categories and information, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Proximity to a geographic location.
  • Hobbies and interests.
  • Family, e.g. parents, number of children.

As your advertisement will only be relevant to parents with children of school age in your school’s catchment area, targeting is extremely useful for honing in on your audience.

The Numbers

Following work we carried out with schools in Swindon, we compared the self-reported reach for: the main local newspaper, the Swindon Advertiser; popular local radio station, Heart Wiltshire Radio; and a paid Facebook advertising campaign.


Total Reach

Area Covered

Target Age Group Reach (Age 34-54)



Swindon & Surrounding Area










As you can see, the Facebook ads reach a far larger audience even before any targeting is introduced. With the addition of targeting, the Facebook advertisement still achieves a higher reach across the county than the total reach of the local radio and newspaper adverts.

For an admissions campaign carried out with The Ridgeway School, a secondary school in the Swindon suburbs, we used the following parameters to effectively target the right Facebook users within a smaller geographic area:

  • Located within 15km of the school site.
  • Aged between 30 and 50.
  • Matching any of the following interests: Primary education, secondary education, secondary school or primary school, parents: parents with primary school-age children (6-8 years), parents with teenagers (aged 13-17), or parents with pre-teens (aged 9-12).

With a budget of just £100, the campaign resulted in a total of 17,240 Facebook users viewing the adverts. This translated into 105 users visiting the school’s admissions page and 6 users clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ button on the school website. With every new pupil equating to thousands of pounds in government, even if just one of those 6 users joined The Ridgeway, it would represent a huge return on investment for the school.

As these numbers demonstrate, by using paid social media advertising, your school can target a very precise demographic and still reach a lot of people. What’s more, they’re the right people; an audience that is far more likely to result in increased admissions to your school.

If you then consider that paid newspaper or radio adverts cost considerably more than £100, and reach an audience filled with people who can't have an impact on your admissions, the evidence suggests social media ads are a more cost-effective and lucrative option for your school.

Advertise Better with Eduprise

While they can be very effective, setting up paid social media advertisements takes expertise. At Eduprise, we have years of experience that enable us to build targeted paid social media campaigns that make the most out of your advertising budget. If you’re interested, get in touch today.

Published by
Adam Barker-Wyatt

Producing content and communications on behalf of schools and multi-academy trusts.

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