How social media can enhance international student recruitment
Date posted: March 6, 2013
Social media is a great tool for student marketing. It is also a great money-saving tool for international recruitment. If used effectively, it can complement (not replace) international fairs and conferences. Social media can be an essential tool that can help link prospective international students or partners with the appropriate representative at your college or university. However, like any investment of money or time, it can turn into a waste of resources if not implemented properly.
Here are a few things to consider before launching social media efforts for international recruitment.
1. Do some homework before creating International Students-dedicated social media pages or feeds:
Facebook is still the most popular platform for the 16-24 year old demographic, and its market share has been rising in some emerging countries, surpassing local social media platforms.According to WES RAS, students do use Facebook to gain a perspective on a college they consider attending. They will visit your college’s Facebook page but may feel that liking your page is too much of a commitment to your college. What we can conclude from this data is that an International Student Page on FB may be useful for students already on campus, or to showcase activities that are happening, but it may not attract international prospects.
- Start by monitoring social networks in the countries or regions you would like to recruit to see what the most popular platforms are: what forums have they used? What platforms did they find useful to get answers to their questions?
- Include international students in your Student Ambassadors Team: Your college will need to enroll some international students in their social media efforts targeting international students. They will provide your school with invaluable insight about social media use, etiquette and expectations in their country. Ask your current international students about their precise needs when they were looking for a school and how they thought social media could help them answer those questions.
Example: Take a look at how Brock University’s social media efforts helped them recruit 16 international students in just eight months.
2. Focus on helping your prospects
Social media is great to give immediate help and get into direct contact with the Admission team. As you devise your social media international campaigns, be sure to consider ways to use social media to make it easy for students to contact you:
- Use chat services to make direct contact with prospective students: some colleges use Skype or Google+ hang outs to interview prospects. Make sure a current international student and alumni attend the session to answer all questions.
- Use Google Analytics to know what the best keywords to be found are. Use those keywords t optimize your profiles (for example, YouTube account) and blog to make it easy for students to find information and contact people.
- Enable international students to share what they are doing or have been doing through a blog or community message board.
Example: Read how Tilburg University’s Talk of Tomorrow campaign brings international students together through social media.
Make it easy for them to connect with your community:
With your current students: Discipline by discipline and market by market, make sure prospective international students can connect with your current students and your alumni for one-on-one discussions.
With other international students:
– Use a private Facebook group to enable all your incoming international students to connect and share info about the city, locations, housing, all available.
– Organize a mentorship program that will allow newly admitted international students to meet with international alumni
3. Get your international alumni involved
As mentioned above, your college or university’s international student alumni can become a major asset in your overall international-targeted efforts. Aside from the international student mentorship program, there are many other ways to involve international alumni include:
- Creation of testimonials for international students sections
- Featuring their profiles in the International section or the general blog of your college
- Establish international networks through a LinkedIn group for current and former students to join.
- Ensure that an international alumnus attends on-campus info sessions or online student question sessions.
4. Measure, measure, measure
Keep track of your successes on all platforms: new blog followers, international newsletters sign ups, interactions on the various platforms. In December 2012, International Education Advantage, LLC presented a very comprehensive take on how to plan and track your international social media activity.