For many years it’s been standard practice for students to request information, perhaps even a brochure, from prospective colleges and universities they want to attend. This request will then often spark the institution to follow up with the student to provide further information- it’s a common process that allows students to receive information to review and have the chance to ask remaining questions.
Although this routine is still commonplace for many, a recent EducationUSA Global Social Media Survey found that 70 percent of students are also now looking for college and university information from a place they’re already on: Social Media. If your international student office is trying to reach more students from around the world, here’s why you should be on social media too.
When you reach one, you reach many
Most of us are on social media personally and have seen exactly what I mean, maybe without even realizing it. I’ll use Facebook as an example: If your Facebook friend Bob Jones likes the page “International Student Offices Are Great,” more than likely you’re going to see that Bob has recently liked this page- especially if you have common interests with Bob on this topic or have a lot of interaction with him. Who and how many people will see that Bob liked this page will depend on the Facebook Algorithm gods, but our guess is that it will be more than those that he actually tells he liked the page.
Swoon them in 2 seconds
Which is about as long as an average attention span these days! Platforms that use photos, like Instagram, a platform whose 90% of users are under the age of 35 and 75% are outside the US, allow you to quickly get across the message that you’re trying to send to students. The best part? If you don’t have any text in your image, you don’t have a language barrier getting in the way!
Constant contact with potential students is possible
When you send a brochure after a student requests it then that’s often the main highlight of your interaction, unless you have a solid follow up plan in place that succeeds. However, when you connect with a potential student on social media you essentially have the opportunity to put the school in front of the student on a daily basis- without them getting annoyed. But keep in mind that simply having a social media presence is not enough, it needs to be maintained. Frequent (engaging) posts serve as a constant reminder to the student that your university is out there and doing really great things. Also, replying to questions gives students who might be on the fence about your school the information they need to make a final decision.
Lost mail is no longer another hurdle
When sending brochures to countries around the world it’s bound to happen- mail will get lost or it will show up months after the student has already made a decision on the school they’ll attend. Think sending an ebrochure is the solution? Even an ebrochure can get lost in the world of bounces and spam filters.
It’s a free marketing tool (with the exception of your time, of course)
Even if you find great pricing on marketing materials, sometimes it’s just not in the budget to create marketing materials specifically for international students. However, social media is free and you can target your message however you would like (with the institution’s stamp of approval). You can list details that only international students would care about, pictures from international student specific events, and provide a good place for international students to meet and mingle before they even arrive on campus.
What have been the successes or difficulties in your international student office having a social media presence?