Here’s a shocker: teenagers are spending more time online than ever before. 

Their typical destination sites? Social media. 

The overall time teenagers spend on social media has increased since 2014-2015. In 2022, 97% of teenagers admit to using the internet daily, a five percent increase from eight years ago. 

While we’ve all been guilty of spending too much time online, 46% of teenagers in 2022 claim they use the internet almost constantly. This number sat at a mere 24% in the mid 2010s. 

The Pew Research Center has released its report on teen social media and technology uses for 2022. 

This nonpartisan fact tank is a leader in data collection through “public polling, demographic research, content analysis, and other data driven social science research.”

This data comes from 1,316 teens ages 13-17, with surveys conducted from April through May of 2022. The study classified younger teens as ages 13 and 14, while older teens were deemed those between the ages of 15-17. 

As higher ed marketers, we must always analyze and evaluate the trends of traditionally-aged prospective students. So how can you apply this information to your school’s digital presence? 

Let’s get into it. 

The Power of YouTube

The top dog of social media platforms for teens is YouTube, with 95% of teens saying they’ve used it.

Out of this group, boys are more likely than girls to be YouTube users by a five point margin. 

Furthermore, 75% of American teenagers say they visit the platform on a daily basis, with 20% using YouTube almost constantly. 

There is only a one point difference in YouTube usage between older teens and younger teens. 

So if you’re weighing your options on where to place digital ads, YouTube might be your best bet to reach your target audience. 

You can also take this information into consideration when building out your presence on YouTube. 

Many students want more authentic insights as to what it’s like at a particular school. Being a platform centered on user-generated content, you could use this to your benefit. 

Create videos featuring current students. Do a walkthrough of a typical dorm at your school. Give prospects the inside peek into your dining hall or athletic facilities. 

We have several client-partners that’ve hired in-house video teams dedicated to leadership and student videos coordinated with the collateral and electronic comm flow. 

Additionally, our clients have seen great success in incentivizing their own students to produce videos in a contest style.

Think “Rate my Crib” dorm videos or “Day in the Life” videos that are student-produced but land on a school’s channel. This can be the middle-ground of providing more authentic content while ensuring it’s as robust and positive as you’d hope. 

As more students look online to weigh their college choice, presenting them with authentic experiences and not overly-produced videos of your school could move a prospective student further down the funnel.

TikTok Takes Silver 

To no one’s surprise, TikTok is second-in-line in the social media hierarchy. 

67% of teens report having used TikTok, 58% say they use it daily, and 16% report using it almost constantly. 

As for demographics, teen girls are 13% more avid TikTok users than boys. 

Black and Hispanic teenagers tend to use TikTok more than White teens. 81% of Black teenagers report using TikTok, 71% of Hispanic teens report the same, while only 62% of White teens report using the platform. 

Compared to younger teenagers, older teens use TikTok at a 10% higher rate. 

For PWIs looking to diversify their campuses (a top priority for teens nowadays), having a strong TikTok presence could help spread awareness of your school. 

TikTok also proves to be a great platform for all female institutions looking to connect with and market themselves to potential enrollees. 

And turns out, it’s not that hard to go viral on TikTok. Utilizing trending sounds and hashtags in your video could mean the difference between 5 viewers and 5 million. 

While not every viewer may be of college-searching age, putting your school’s name out there might lead to future student inquiries further down the line. 

Instagram in Close Third 

Instagram eclipsed the 2014-2015 bronze medalist, its sister site Facebook, to take the number three spot in this report. 

62% of teens report having used Instagram, with 10% self-identified as almost constant users. 

Similar to TikTok, Instagram users are more likely to be girls, 69% to 55%. 

As well, Black and Hispanic teens tend to use Instagram more often than their White peers, 68 and 69% compared to 58% of White teens. 

There is a huge leap in numbers comparing Instagram usage per age group. While only 45% of younger teens report having used the platform, a whopping 73% of older teens are Instagram users. 

You can take a similar approach with Instagram that you do with TikTok. 

As Instagram rallies to compete with TikTok, video content (called “reels”) are more likely to be pushed by the site’s algorithm. 

But you can also flex your photography muscles using Instagram. It is an influencer-platform after all. 

Well-crafted photos of student life events or shots around campus (with lots of your school colors mixed in) will make your page aesthetically-pleasing.

Snapchat as Miss Congeniality

Snapchat barely lost to Instagram by 3 points, but has more consistent users than Instagram. Out of those with Snapchat accounts, 25% are constant users. Comparatively, only 16% of Instagram users report accessing the platform constantly. 

You can utilize Snapchat to showcase student life at your college or university. Marketing strategies like 24 hour “takeovers” by students can offer that genuine lens into your school that prospects want to see.  

However, be cognizant that Snapchat stories disappear within a day. Avoid losing vital content by saving your stories. This will give you a backlog of photo and video content to use later on!

Facebook Retires its Varsity Jacket 

A telling stat in this report is the decline of teen Facebook users. Only 32% report using it, and a mere 2% report using it constantly.  

What used to be the second most popular platform in 2014-2015 is now reminiscent of that one alumni who visits their highschool perhaps too much.

Teen Facebook usership has plummeted in the past eight years; and while Meta still has a stronghold on teens through Instagram, we say don’t waste a lot of time marketing your school on this platform. 

At best, Facebook page posts matriculate to 2% of their audience’s newsfeed without some kind of promotion or payment. 

Unless you’re looking to entice non-traditional students, your time and budget is best spent elsewhere. 

Takeaways and Scheduling a Social Media Check-up with The Parish Group 

Overall, video content seems to reign supreme. While YouTube and TikTok are solely video platforms, Instagram is gearing to catch up

Crafting the perfect video that is authentic, on-brand, and highlights the info you want to get across can be time-consuming. But as per these reports, the payoff will be well worth it. 

Ultimately a successful higher ed digital marketing strategy in 2022 must include a successful social media marketing strategy.

This will be different for each school, but it’s important to always monitor your engagement rates to learn the affinities of your desired audience. 

Social media gives institutions the unique ability to interact with potential students and even produce user-generated content from their students and alumni. 

An effective social media presence requires the occasional check-up to ensure the strategy is functioning at its highest potential. 

Our team of enrollment experts offer social media audits for schools à-la-carte, with best practice plans for your school moving forward. 

If your institution is new to the digital marketing and social media game or wanting to energize your strategy, reach out to us at or call our office at 828-505-3000.