Higher Education Marketing Trends That Took 2016 by Storm

Higher education marketing trends in 2016


As 2016 comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on the most impactful higher education marketing trends of the year, so we’ve compiled a list of five higher education marketing trends worth remembering. Each of these enhanced the way we communicate with prospective students, current students, alumni and other niche audiences within our universities.


As technology continues to develop, adopting new marketing trends and tweaking strategy becomes imperative every year. By determining which marketing tactics were the most effective in 2016, you can further prepare yourself for success in 2017.


1. Integration of Video

Video marketing is not a new concept, however, this was a notable year for the tactic. Universities across the nation have become more creative with the video content they’re posting on their social networks. As a result, their audience will feel more personally connected to the institution.


Ideas for video content that universities can incorporate include:


  • Utilizing Facebook Live for on-campus events
  • Participating in pop culture trends, such as the Mannequin Challenge


Another easy idea for video marketing that will increase views and engagements is using apps such as Boomerang to make custom GIFs.

An example of this comes from Texas A&M University. Complimenting this video with a simple caption rewarded the university with more than 22,000 views:


A video posted by Texas A&M University (@tamu) on


2. Real-time Marketing

When it comes to higher education marketing, time is always of the essence, and taking full advantage of ongoing events and activities is a great way to utilize this time fully.

Ideas for real-time marketing for universities include:

  • Snapchatting a university event as it unfolds
  • Sharing a post to wish students good luck on finals


Another example comes from Kent State University. The following video was posted on their Instagram page one week before Giving Tuesday to promote the event to their students.


This university also uses the universal hashtag #GivingTuesday, as well as their own (#KSUGives) for a more personalized touch:


3. User-generated Content

Another great way for universities to engage with their students is by posting user-generated content on their social media channels.


This can be done in many ways, including:


  • Retweeting a student’s tweet that mentions your school
  • Screenshotting Snapchats that students send you and posting them in your Story


Additionally, an example of a university utilizing user-generated content from students comes by way of the University of Georgia, as seen below.


Finding posted content from students is a win-win situation for higher education marketers. Not only do you have additional content to choose from when drafting posts, but you also get to see what parts of your university students are sharing.



4. Expanded Partnerships

Establishing partnerships with brands relevant to your student body is nothing new. However, 2016 saw this being accomplished in even more creative ways.


No matter how big or small your school is, there are many options available for branding and partnerships, such as:


  • Working with Snapchat to create filters for your campus
  • Partnering with local shops to drive engagement to social media channels by sharing each other’s posts


Another creative way that universities can determine who they should partner with is by basing the decision on current events. The University of Washington, for example, made full use of a 2016 phenomenon for their branding.


By partnering with Pokémon Go and incorporating Pokémon into its campus the university was able to show that they’re aware of their students’ interests and willing to have fun:


What Are Your 2017 Higher Education Marketing Predictions?

Now that we’ve covered the top higher education marketing trends that took over 2016, what are your guesses for 2017?


Let us know! Contact us today, because we’d love to hear from you.