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Social media continues to grow in importance as a communication tool. What creates a challenge, however, is that the number of options to get your message out continues to grow too.

For higher education advancement professionals tasked with reaching students, alumni and families, this leaves a question: Should you be posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more?

Luckily, a look at the data suggests that you don’t need to be everywhere, all the time. Depending on the audience you’re aiming to reach, you can target them on the social media channels they’re most likely to be active on.

With the help of data from SproutSocial, we look here at the best social networks to reach students, alumni and their parents for your digital advancement messaging.

Students & Recent Graduates

Typically, undergraduate students will be in their late-teens or early-twenties, while graduate students can be enrolled through their late-twenties and early-thirties. For the most part, you can expect to find this group in the age 18-29 demographic.

Like any age range, you can find this group primarily on Facebook, with 88% actively using the social network. The secondary channel is where you will see more variance. For this demographic, the go-to place is Instagram, where you can find 59%.

With Instragram’s focus on photos and graphics, you’ll need to have your camera handy. You can use Instagram to showcase student life and offer progress updates on projects and initiatives.


If most of your students will have graduated once they reach their thirties, we’ve grouped the ages of 30-49 in the “Alumni” category. Once again, you’re most likely to be find this group on Facebook. There, you’ll find 84% of those in this age-range, nearly as many as in the younger cohort.

After Facebook, however, this demographic is split. You can find roughly 30-35% of those 30-49 on several different social networks. But it’s LinkedIn that stands out as the best place to reach this specific group. While it has a 33% usage-rate in this audience, you’re likely to find exactly who you’re looking for there, as 50% of those on LinkedIn hold a higher education degree.

Now that you know LinkedIn is the best place to reach your alumni, it’s time to start stewarding them! Download our free LinkedIn Engagement Templates now:

Download Alumni Engagement Templates for LinkedIn


For those over 50, you will start to see social media using dropping, with another decline over the age of 65. Still, it’s not a surprise that the most common place to find those 50+ is in on Facebook. There, you can find 72% of those ages 50-64, and 62% of those above 65.

There is much less usage of secondary social networks in this demographic. But outside of Facebook, the most likely place to find the parents of your students is on Pinterest – with 28% of those 50-64 using the platform, and 16% of those 65+.

Much like Instagram, Pinterest in a photo-based social network. One thing to take note of: it’s used much more by women than men, which could influence some of your content and messaging choices.

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