Higher Education Marketing

Memorial University Leverages Foreign Social Networks

Date posted: September 14, 2011

We recently discussed how and why your school should be maintaining a presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but what about foreign social networks? Memorial University‘s School of Graduate Studies (SGS) has taken a new approach in their graduate student recruitment strategy, using social media websites based in South Korea, Japan, and China. Memorial University (MUN) is focusing on the following Asian social networks:

  • Mixi -a popular social media network in Japan
  • Naver - a popular search portal and blog based in South Korea
  • RenRen – a Chinese social network that looks suspiciously like Facebook

These nations represent the top three source countries for international students in Canada, so it makes sense that MUN is focusing their online recruitment strategies there. The use of social media to connect with Asian students is also logical, since Internet use is very high in South Korea and Japan, and it continues to grow in China.

The SGS actually received $20,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in 2010 for this project, and it has hired a grad student from each of the three nations to build a presence on the aforementioned social networks.

Andrew Kim, manager of enrollment and strategic initiatives at the SGS, says the use of foreign social media sites is already working. “We are now into the second phase of this project and the results are pretty good now,” he told MUN News. “We have generated hundreds of new leads, and applications from the three source countries we targeted are up 38 per cent over last year.”

Brock University last year started a similar initiative, but MUN is the first Canadian school to try the social media approach in South Korea. Mr. Kim says the project is expected to conclude in December, but the SGS is hopeful it can extend it into 2012.

Does this mean your school should do the same? Not necessarily (at least for now). You should absolutely make sure you’ve established (and are maintaining) a positive and engaging presence on Facebook and Twitter. With increased competition for prospective students, however, foreign social networks may also be an increasingly common recruitment option in the near future.