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Social Media as a Strategy for International Student Recruitment

In March of 2014, NACAC hosted an Executive Virtual Forum (EVF) on Social Media as a Strategy for International Student Recruitment. With 70 percent of students using social media to find out about colleges and universities, according to the EducationUSA Global Social Media Survey, social media is a key element to an institution’s communication and marketing strategy. 

In the EVF (free archived recording available), Aaron Anderson, director of international recruitment at The University of British Columbia (Canada) and vice president for technology and communication for the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), presented 20 social media tips in 20 minutes. Here are highlights: 

1. Develop guidelines. Develop social media protocols for your admission department that are consistent with the university’s requirements. 

2. Get staffed. If you are serious about marketing and communications, consider hiring a dedicated staff member to be responsible for social media. 

3. Be mobile ready. A very strong investment is needed into your website’s mobile viewing experience. 

4. Use Facebook.
 For international social media, no other platform has the same global reach, except in China where Sina Weibo and WeChat are top social networks.   

5. Leverage alumni. Alumni are a credible local source of engagement. Invite them to contribute to all social media endeavors. 

6. Integrate #hashtags. Using hashtags on Twitter can help you organize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. 

7. Use pictures. As images transcend language barriers, using Instagram is an excellent way to share the campus experience. 

8. Attend virtual fairs. Use social media to drive traffic to your presence at virtual fairs. 

9. Monitor and adapt. As technology changes at such a rapid pace, have a plan in place to monitor developments and trends and to adjust your strategy.

10. Be professional. It is important to act professionally on any social media sites, but having fun is also essential. Develop a voice that represents the brand, but be social and approachable.

Additional Models From the Field

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Related Resources

Counselor Toolkit

A resource for counselors who advise international students attending US high schools as well as secondary schools which are considering enrolling such students

The State of College Admission Report

Examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education through survey data collected from colleges and universities across the country.

Trusted Sources

An overview of the many advisors who can help you through the college admission process