Thought Leadership

R/EnrollmentMarketing: How Higher Ed Can Leverage Reddit to Reach Niche Audiences

Strategies, Tips, and Success Stories


Have you heard? Reddit is hot right now! 

Folks flocked to Reddit during the lockdown, searching for community and the platform’s growth has continued since then. According to Marketing Brew, Reddit’s user traffic is up 37% from last year, they are rolling out new tools regularly, their IPO made headlines, and they were even listed as one of TIME’s 2024 most influential companies

But what does this mean for enrollment marketers? Reddit has generally been viewed as a bit more volatile and experimental than platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, so how does that work with more traditional institutions like higher education? Can an edgy, niche site like Reddit help drive prospective students to higher education?

I went to Town Hall’s Senior Media Planner, Kelcey Joyce, to discuss how Reddit can be leveraged for enrollment marketing. Kelcey has worked with Town Hall clients like Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, and the University of San Diego. She is a true media whiz and has helped so many clients leverage paid channels to support their enrollment goals. Check out our conversation below.

Let’s Dig In

Jordan Person: Why should higher education institutions consider including Reddit in their media plan?

Kelcey Joyce: Reddit can be an excellent choice for higher education institutions’ enrollment marketing teams and there are a few reasons why:

  • The user behavior is unique: People use Reddit to have detailed conversations on niche topics, ask questions, and find answers. This kind of user behavior is very different from people casually scrolling their Instagram feeds and looking at pictures of their friends. When your brand gets in front of a Reddit user actively looking for information on how to advance their education, they will respond differently than someone scrolling social media to pass the time.  
  • Many Reddit users can’t be found elsewhere: About 40% of Reddit audiences are de-duplicated from Meta audiences. That means that if your institution is only running ads on Meta, you are missing out on a significant group of people.  
  • Super granular contextual targeting: Because there are so many niche communities and conversations, it’s possible to get really specific with your targeting. For example, you can target people who are interested in career advancement who are discussing specific educational programs like nonprofit management. 
  • Wide-ranging ad formats: Reddit has a multitude of ad format options. From standard image/video like on other social media sites to super detailed “native” text ads that look just like user-generated Reddit posts. This provides lots of ways for your institution to join the conversation.   

Jordan Person: Some folks in the higher education space are concerned about advertising alongside inappropriate content on the platform. What are some considerations for enrollment marketers interested in using Reddit to ensure brand safety?

Kelcey Joyce: I have had an excellent experience with Reddit’s brand safety protocols. They have a newer program incorporating volunteer moderators into each community to ensure that subreddit topics are relevant and appropriate. Reddit also has a great review process. That being said, there are a few things that higher education institutions can do to ensure brand safety when advertising:

  • Check how your brand is being talked about organically. Make sure it is a conversation you want to be a part of. For example, if your institution has been experiencing negative press and Reddit users are discussing it on the platform, you may want to wait to launch a Reddit campaign.
  • Choose carefully between targeting by subreddit versus targeting by keyword. Sometimes targeting by keyword can bring you into subreddits you don’t want to be a part of. For example, if your graduate program trains students to work in law enforcement, you should be aware of how to avoid anti-law enforcement subreddits. 
  • Consider what the goal of the campaign is. We’ve seen great results in new audience prospecting, but it may not be well-suited for conversion-based campaigns. The technology may not be as sophisticated as other social platforms, so conversion optimization is harder to achieve. For example, we received only a handful of leads from a Reddit campaign that was optimized for conversions, however, our Cost Per Lead from a Meta retargeting campaign decreased significantly after Reddit had run for a month flight.

Jordan Person: Thank you, Kelcey! Do you have any specific client campaigns you want to shout out?

Kelcey Joyce:  Yes!  Our first campaign with Reddit was an experiment for a program that was having trouble generating leads, especially from its retargeting campaign. We tested out Reddit, which drove a ton of high-quality, low-cost new website visits. Within a few months, we were generating leads through the retargeting campaign super efficiently. That first campaign taught us so much about the platform that now we’ve expanded the initial campaign to other programs with the client. More info below!

Learn More About University of San Diego & Reddit

“Leveraging free-form ads on Reddit was a strategic win, allowing us to connect with niche communities in an authentic way and boost engagement for the University of San Diego’s online graduate degrees.” – Laura Montgomery, Media Director, Town Hall

Challenge: USD wanted to increase awareness, boost web traffic, and encourage inquiries for their degree programs in order to drive enrollment.

What We Did: Digital Media Buying & Planning


  • CPC was 65% under benchmark 
  • CTR was 378% over benchmark
  • The campaign went from 0 leads in 6 months to 22 in a single month 
  • CPL average $17 

Read More Here

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