One of the most commonly asked questions at Envisage International is why should we bother with Twitter and what will this give our organization. Behind Facebook, Twitter is the second most commonly used social media platform and it is on course in 2011 to reach over 200 million users (not all of these are active accounts so the numbers are a little misleading). The popularity of the site, however, has really taken off, and with the influx of celebrities “tweeting” it has helped to propel the platform to new levels.
The adoption in the international education arena has been relatively slow, we started our first account (@IntStudent) in January 2009, and back then there was only a handful of schools and educators that were using Twitter. I remember a list that was created showing the main International Educators on Twitter at that time, and there were less than 100 accounts. However, spring forward 2 years and we are starting to see more and more activity from the international education arena.
With all this new activity, and more people using the site, does it really justify your time and energy to work with the platform and use it? The very simple answer is YES, and here are some of our main reasons why you should be using Twitter:
- Free Promotion – with diminishing budgets, and the need to make your marketing money run even further, why would you turn up the chance to get free promotion for your organization/ school. A correctly managed twitter account will not only help you spread your message to both current and prospective students, but will also allow you to gain exposure online at no cost. Consider this also, Google and other search engines are slowly starting to implement relevant tweets into search engine results. You not only have free exposure on twitter, but as that initiative grows you will have even more google exposure.
- Monitor your brand – If you are not on Twitter, you cannot really effectively monitor what is being said about your school or organization. Is the feedback positive? Then let other people know and share that positive experience with your followers (this is great PR). Is the feedback negative? This will give you the opportunity to answer it and help a situation get out of control. Without a presence, you have no control over this.
- Customer Service – we want to make sure students have every way possible to contact you; social media, email, telephone, mail – there is no reason to limit yourself for channels to contact your team and get assistance and help. Twitter is a quick way for students to get questions and answer!
- Networking – As we mentioned earlier, our opinion is that adoption of Twitter in the international education arena has been relatively slow – but it is picking up! This coming NAFSA Conference in Vancouver it will be interesting to see how much it has grown over the last two years. Last year adoption had picked up drastically when compared to previous years, and we are hoping the #nafsa11 hashtag really picks up this year. Events like this, and just in general, really show some of the strengths of Twitter as you can meet people who you might never have run into before.
- Share Information – if you have a current customer base, or large group of students that you want to get information and news out to quickly you can use email, or maybe even update your website, but why not consider using Twitter to share news and information. Its a great way to get news out quickly – you can even embed a widget on your website that shows your twitter feed, so you can kill two birds with one stone!
To really get the most use out of Twitter, you need a correctly managed campaign – work out what you want to accomplish and how you will get there. We will be covering topics like this in future posts over the coming months and in the lead up to NAFSA we will be covering things like how you can get the most out of Twitter, tools to help you do that and much more!
Please also share any of your reasons why you use Twitter – I am sure we have not covered them all!