In a world full of uncertainties, we have come to believe in the consistency of one thing – the internet!
Recruitment seasons could be fraught with travel uncertainties. There could be regions that one may not even be able to reach simply because of political turmoil or because of an outbreak – case in point the nCoV 2019 outbreak in China.
The outbreak in the Hubei province in China has cast a massive shadow over the international education sector. With over 73 thousand infected and over 1800 deaths already recorded, international education has been widely affected. The most affected by this are the students, aspiring to study abroad but left with only questions because of factors completely out of their control.
With the internet, however, there are chances of blunting the impact that universities or colleges might feel. The sheer scope and targeting efficiency provided by the internet is unparalleled. While this has been explored by higher education in the past, suffice it to say we have only scratched the surface.
In this series we will be talking about how the tried and tested digital marketing, promotion and lead generation can be creatively employed for vastly better results.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
Social media platforms, in recent years, have seen a great deal of changes. It is these changes that have made marketing higher education institutions even easier and more targeted. Instead of the direct sledgehammer approach of indiscriminate promotion, social media platforms now afford a highly specific and targeted approach. It is this that has made higher education marketing easier and more ROI oriented than ever.
15-24 year olds make up of the world today. India, however, has over of its population under the age of 25. Nearly of Vietnam’s population is under 25. The same holds true for a number of other Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
The common digital denominator between this huge youth population spread across the continent?
of Indian students use the internet every day.
use their phones to access internet.
of Facebook’s India user base is under the age of 24.
Nearly of Facebook’s Vietnam user base is under the age of 24.
With this in mind, it is understandable that social media becomes a de facto primary source of promotion and marketing for universities around the world. Here, once again, the biggest focus for education institutions would be to get international leads. The process of leveraging social for lead generation however needs to go through brand awareness, if quality leads are desired.
Importance of Regional Social Media Brand Awareness for Education Institutions:
With increased access to internet, students have become even more careful about choosing a college or university. This makes it important to for higher education institutions to penetrate deeper into their targeted recruitment markets.
Increased brand awareness ensures that more and more of your target audience have your university or college top of mind. So, when the time to apply for international education comes around, they already have your brand as a front-runner on their list.
Lead generation is directly proportional to the brand thus creating a static awareness about your university would generate more leads. There are some very basic things that you can do to ensure that your brand awareness campaigns are working for you.
Here are some of the points to keep in mind while regulating brand-awareness campaigns:
Live up to the motto:
A university where its motto is diligently exercised within its students is appreciated by all. Giving prospective students an emotion rather than an option will significantly affect their final choice.
“Alverno College, a women’s college, created their display ad to beautifully highlight their philosophy through a combination of words and images.”
“The more you see it, the more you believe it.” While this may sound a tad pushy at first sight, isn’t that the cornerstone of marketing and promotion? You need to be everywhere, and that’s about it. Be it in the form of organically viral campaigns, or just targeted promotional activities.
Never forget that social media is all pay-to-play. In fact, organic reach of content on Facebook has been decreasing over the years, and has now reached its nadir. This makes it crucial to invest in brand awareness. Not for no reason are universities consistently increasing their social media marketing budgets year on year.
Facebook Page Organic Reach (Source: Neil Patel Blog)
Separate Alumni Pages:
Highlighting the excellence delivered by an institution is what can build the most credibility around an education institution. The impression one carries from seeing a successful alumni is that joining the institution could ensure their success as well. In this, it does not necessarily have to be a stuffy page just focusing on growth. Engage with your alumni using information that gives them value. In fact, leveraging alumni support is one of the best ways to raise funds for new projects at the universities.
Promote Scholarships and Financial Aid:
Consider this, going for higher education is as big an investment for a student as buying a house. This makes scholarships and financial aid one of the biggest factors to consider for a student looking to study abroad. This is especially true for student markets like India and Vietnam. It is important that your social media brand awareness campaigns incorporate this effectively for best reach.
Amplifying your Social Media
To have a solid social media approach, it is important to have a strong understanding of which platforms are popular in the target markets:
China | India | Vietnam | Bangladesh | Nepal | Indonesia | South Korea
Each of the above mentioned countries have their own most popular social media platforms. While the most common continue to remain Facebook and Instagram. Increasing the return on your investment in social media has now boiled down to how well you understand the particular student demographic that would want to study at your higher education institution. Here are some ways that you can amplify your social media marketing results:
Leverage Chinese Social Platforms:
Recruitment in China is a tricky process as the most popular social media platforms are blocked by the government. In their absence there are Chinese-grown social media platforms that are wildly popular in the country. WeChat has taken a strong hold in the Chinese market thus demanding the presence of higher education marketers.
(From left to right) L: University of Surrey was one of the first universities to have a WeChat account | M: Use of WeChat in China | R: RMIT University, Melbourne sends automatic greetings on WeChat to their recent followers
Identify Social Platforms According to Countries:
Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms in Vietnam, India and a large part of Southeast Asia. Moreover, there are a number of other social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, are just some of the others that are wildly popular among students around the world. Not surprisingly, this is something that has already begun to be leveraged by universities around the world. Here are a couple of examples.
– Western University: westernu (Snapchat)
– Arizona State University School of Art: asusoa (Tumblr)
Create Region-Centric Content:
The statistics below clearly suggest the fact that visual and aesthetic aid when adopted correctly in education marketing strategies would have a much greater impact.
Students spend a whopping 8-hours per day across different media!
(Source: GlobalWebIndex Q2 2018)
The big catch here is that the content popularity varies with region. This is what makes it important to have social media handles relevant to your target markets. If not region-centric social media handles, than the ads being run on social should in the very least be highly region-specific.
Something like showing images of students of the same nationality as the country in which the ad is being promoted becomes very important in such scenarios. Translations of the content into the primary language of the country in which the ad is being promoted too can be very important.
Country Specific Handles:
Having separate accounts dedicated to countries sending most students abroad to study a strategy that can immediately grab attention. It ensures that the messages are not getting confused and allows for a better opportunity to increase the brand awareness in these countries.
Content shared on these handles should be focusing on ensuring that it gives value to the students of that country. Be it providing them scholarship details, admission procedure or even hot courses, it is packaging them in a visual and textual language that is most relevant to that country that would make sure it gets the deepest penetration.
Creating content in this format can give students a sense of belonging and assurance as to the fact that the university understands their needs.
– The University of New South Wales | : India focused Facebook page
– Columbia University | : Chinese students club on Facebook
– The University of Alabama | @univofalabamaindia: India focused Facebook page
Students deeply care about being informed about the latest news of their university, around of them depend on social media for this. AI generated mails are often missed as they directly go to spam, this is where the importance of being active and responsive on social media handles comes in handy.
Automated social messenger responses are a great way to ensure that you are always engaging students reaching out to you. Having a versatile social media calendar can ensure that you are not missing out the big days on campus while still ensuring that your focus continues to stay on recruitment and brand awareness.
“We live in a digital ecosystem, and it is vital that educational institutions adapt” – Carla Dawson (Digital Marketing Professor at the Catholic University of Cordoba)
Use of Images and Videos:
Visuals are the key to attract prospective students. Images and videos are some of the most trending content types on social media. Take this statistic for reference:
Which format do you leverage more in your Facebook Ads?
It can always be a good idea to source images from students. User generated content is a great way for a college or a university can ensure greater reach and engagement on social media. Moreover, videos can give a chance for students to visit the university without having to leave home.
– Sydney University (@sydney_uni): Focuses on posting pictures that highlight their rich campus using panoramic shots, aerial photography and diversity in action clicks.
– University of Alberta, Canada (@ualbertastudents): Focuses on student profiles posting portraits of their students and their achievements.
Use of Hashtags:
Hashtags when introduced in 2007 by Twitter, and immediately gained popularity on rest of the social media platforms as well, especially Instagram. The fact that they create a community of their own is what makes this very special. It can help engage students interested in the college, or a particular aspect of it, and ensures qualification at the first step. Use of unique and memorable hashtags is the key to a successful campaign, be it upcoming events, convocation or informal meets.
Hashtags are a great way to initiate conversations and identify the preferences of your target audience. They help weave a culture where personal opinions coincide, paving a path for the recruiters to understand the psyche of prospective students- their expectations and ideologies regarding the university environment.
Hashtags can be categorized in a way similar to a pyramid –
- Industry hashtag: #student
- Course-specific hashtag: #psychologystudent
- Brand hashtag: #princetonpsychology
- Community hashtag: #clinicalpsychology
- Location hashtag: #newyorkpsychologist
- Event hashtag: #PsychDayUN2019
Social media is all about engaging your target audience and then getting them familiarized with what your brand offers. For universities, colleges and other education institutions this process becomes even simpler considering they are offering what most of the youth require.
Social media offers a number of ways to identify prospective leads and to increase your brand awareness in target markets. This, however, requires strategic paid promotion.
At Hue, we have identified multi-channel means of ensuring the optimal ROI on your social media marketing and lead generation efforts. Right from designing highly engaging campaigns to churning out smart creatives, to crafting on-point description, to segmenting leads, Hue can ensure your social media marketing and brand awareness gets the push it requires.
In the next article we will explore how webinars, when done right, can be a great means of generating brand awareness and leads.
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