Exploring Threads by Meta in Higher Education Marketing

August 29, 2023
Exploring Threads by Meta in Higher Education Marketing

Threads is a social media platform launched by Meta on July 5, 2023. With 30M+ downloads on its first day of release and topping 100M within a week, it was poised to be the newest social media sensation to hit the market – all backed by a billionaire public smackdown. Threads was released as an alternative to Twitter (now X) following a rocky year under new ownership, so marketers had to take a hard look at what platforms to invest time and resources into – both for organic and paid endeavors.  

In the realm of higher education, the Threads app offers the potential to foster meaningful connections between students, faculty, and even alumni. Its focus on text and image-based snippets of content enables admissions teams to foster relationships on a platform for sharing academic achievements, updates about campus events, and opportunities for collaboration.  

If you're considering integrating the Threads app into your higher ed marketing approach, thoughtful planning and creative utilization for community building could yield promising results – if the app catches on with student audiences and improves its capabilities. Let’s start with the basics and then dig in. 


What is Threads – and Does it Matter for Higher Education? 

Threads is a standalone app created by Instagram under Meta, designed specifically for “sharing text updates and joining public conversations.” With Threads, users can easily post photos, videos, and messages with specific individuals or groups, making it potentially ideal for targeted marketing campaigns.

But there are drawbacks to the new social media app – right now, it does not deliver capabilities that many other social platforms do, such as hashtags, an edit button, simple account switching, post scheduling, or paid advertising. As with any work in progress, we have to keep an eye on it to determine if it’s worth the time investment. 

Instagram Threads and Social Media Marketing for Education 

Social media marketing has proven to be an effective way for higher education institutions to increase brand awareness, engage with prospective students, and showcase their unique offerings. Threads has the potential to enhance these marketing efforts by enabling more personalized and targeted communication with target audiences, but are your ideal prospective students using Threads? Since Gen Z is the current generation entering college, we will focus there. 

Will Gen Z take to Threads? 

  • Threads holds the record of reaching 1 million users faster than any other platform, taking just under an hour after launch. 
  • As of July 2023 stats, the highest number of Thread users are from Gen Z. 
  • Daily users average over 40M.  

It’s a new tool, so the stats change all the time, but the numbers look promising. 

According to Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Threads is designed to help users have focused conversations with their close friends and groups, resulting in a targeted approach, which typically contributes to higher conversion rates and engagement levels compared to more generic approaches. 

Do You Need to Start Your Threads Strategy? 

 If your admissions or communications department already engages with students on Instagram, it’s simple to open a Threads account since the data is already connected. Opening an account now allows you to do some trial and error on the platform while it’s still growing. 

 To make the most of Threads in higher education marketing, it’s important to follow best practices. Like all social platforms, create engaging and visually appealing content that resonates with your target audience, showcasing the unique aspects of your college or institution. If you’re already creating social content for other platforms, you can also post there to start observing engagement. 


Example Use Cases for Threads in Higher Education Marketing 

  • Use Threads to engage prospective students. Share exclusive content about campus life, help them connect with current students, and allow them to ask questions about the university. This personalized interaction creates a sense of exclusivity and builds a stronger connection with prospective students, ultimately increasing their likelihood of enrolling.  
  • Share behind-the-scenes content of campus events, such as a student-led theater production or a research conference. By providing exclusive access to these experiences, your university can generate excitement and FOMO (fear of missing out) among the target audience, encouraging them to engage with your institution and apply. 
  • Create a Thread specifically for students interested in a particular academic program. You can share success stories of current students in that program, highlight research opportunities, and provide updates about faculty achievements. This targeted approach helps prospective students feel seen and understood, increasing their likelihood of choosing your institution. 

In reality, Threads may not be the next best thing in social marketing, but there’s a low barrier of entry right now to start engaging without adding too much time and resources. But remember, it’s still a work in progress. 

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Best Practices for Threads in Higher Education 

Showcase Campus Life and Student Experiences
  • Threads can be used to provide an authentic glimpse into campus life by showcasing student experiences, events, and activities that make your university unique. By featuring student stories and testimonials, you can create a sense of community and belonging, attracting prospective students who resonate with shared experiences. 
Engage with Prospective Students to Reveal Unique Offerings 
  • Colleges and institutions can use Threads to engage with prospective students by answering their questions, addressing concerns, and providing personalized guidance throughout the admissions process. When paired with other focused channels like email automation, Threads can attract prospective students who are seeking specific offerings when you highlight your academic programs, facilities, and campus culture. 


Challenges and Limitations of Threads for Higher Education Marketing 

One potential challenge is the need for consistent and high-quality content creation, as Threads requires regular updates to maintain audience interest. Take it in stride along with other communication channels and see it as a supplemental source for students to interact with, while pointing them to campus resources and gathering their information through landing pages where you can enroll them in email automation to keep them up to date on the admissions process. 

Keep in mind, that colleges and institutions should be mindful of privacy concerns and ensure that the content shared through Threads adheres to the institution's policies and guidelines. It is important to strike a balance between engaging with the audience and respecting their privacy. 

In Conclusion

Threads is worth having to engage with your higher education audiences, but just like any social channel, don’t put all your resources in one bucket, and make sure you’re connecting it back to your most beneficial channels (like email) to gather prospective student info and keep them informed.  

In general, experts in higher education marketing recommend creating a content calendar and establishing a consistent posting schedule to maintain audience engagement and loyalty. 

The platform is still early in its evolution, and it lacks capabilities for full campaign launches, like management tools and paid advertising options. For now, it can be a helpful organic channel to engage with your prospective and current students, alumni, and partners where they may already be spending time. 


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Author Bio

Abigail is the Content Manager ("Content Queen"), which enables her to lead the copywriting team, craft compelling stories for clients across industries, and oversee contracts. Her professional background includes teaching and sales with 10+ years in research, copywriting, and editing. She has a knack for details and an in-depth knowledge of storytelling, content development, brand voice, and tone. She holds a BA in English from Campbell University and an MA in English from East Carolina University. As an adventurer, lifelong learner, and lover of cats & plants, she approaches every day with curiosity and gutsiness. Connect with her on LinkedIn!