Content is king, so they say. But why? Content drives viewership on television, it is what sells (or used to sell) newspapers, it’s why Weather.com is the number one weather site on the internet. What do they all have in common? Good, compelling and relevant content. So how does online content relate to international education and specifically to your school and how will it help students find you? The simple answer is that online content, good quality and relevant content that is, can play a key role in how students find your school when they are searching online.
Students are growing up with mobile internet access, Facebook, and Twitter. They are constantly online and using the internet to help research and make educated decisions about where they are going to study. So where are they looking?
1. Your Website: They are looking at your college or university website. That is great. You want them to look at your site. The problem your schools website is filled with mission statements, admission information, research material, messages from presidents, and a place for Alumni to donate money, and lots and lots of other information that is overwhelming to an international student. It is also most likely hard to navigate and find the information they are looking for. School websites are developed to serve a large audience from the prospective student, to a student that is currently enrolled to alumni all on one site. Furthermore, unless the student is specifically looking for your school, chances are you will not show up in the search results when a student is looking for your school or a program you offer.
2. Social Media: Most colleges have now bought into and are using Facebook, Twitter and even diving into the Google+ world. Social media is an excellent tool to be able to get your message out, engage students and reach them where they are spending lots of time. You must engage them with good, compelling, and relevant content if you want them to “like” your pages or continue to engage the page. You are limited to those that do “like” you and not the gazillions that are using Facebook.
3. Third Party or Independent Websites: What is an independent website? These are online marketing companies that specialize in reaching students online. They enlist good search engine optimization practices to ensure that when students are searching, their site will be found. One of the most common practices they use to get people to their sites is generating good, compelling and relevant content.
So how can you reach international students online and how does content play a key in how students find your school? Let’s start with your website. Make sure that when they do find your school’s website it is easy to navigate to the things that would interest them, the prospective student. Things like what it is like on your campus, what it is like to study in your city, programs offered, what is the cost, what are other student saying about their experience at your school and more.
With independent websites, like ours, InternationalStudent.com, we write content about a variety of subjects all about what it is like to study outside of your home country. We write about what it’s like to study in Michigan or Texas. We write about what it is like to study film, aviation, business, computer science, and what kind of internship you can get while in the US and what kind of job you can get when you get out of school and head home. What to expect during the Visa process and what to do at tax time. We are in the business of producing and distributing good quality and relevant content – specifically target to the needs of international students. We not only put this information on our website, but also distribute it via our social media channels.
So how does this benefit a school? If an independent website writes and article about your school, or blogs about a program you offer, or post a campus video you just produced on their Facebook page, you have just significantly expanded your reach beyond your own website. Now when a student searches for that program, your website will not come up, but the blog about that program will, tying it back to your school. Your program, your video, your school can now be found when students are searching for you and all because of good, quality and relevant content, distributed across the web, the blogosphere and through social media channels.
Do you have a content marketing strategy? If so, please share it with us.