Tag Archives: internaitonal student recruiting

Is your International Student Marketing Remarkable?

I have been on a bit of a TED talk kick lately and came across one presentation with the marketing guru Seth Godin that I thought could be applied to the international student recruiting community.  Seth brings up a couple points that might spawn innovating thinking within your international student admissions office.

One major theme of his talk is to ask yourself, is your marketing remarkable?  Remarkable doesn’t mean what you are saying or doing is ‘cool’, remarkable means your audience is inspired to ‘remark’ about your marketing efforts to others.

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This is the essence of social media.  We have many tools where for free we can distribute material to our audience and where our audience can easily share or remark about it to others.  But the material must be remarkable!

Take the example highlighted in the Old College Try: Marketing Higher Ed blog by D.W. sharing a concept made very popular by the Obama Campaign and now being employed by Gonzaga.  In her blog D.W. shares how Gonzaga has created their own version of the Obama campaign’s ‘Obama would have won only if “insert person’s name here” had voted‘ video.

Now I have no interest necessarily in Gonzaga but they have done enough to compel me to share their video with others.  For me it was remarkable.  And now that you are checking it out, you too might feel compelled to share it with someone.  Gonzaga has developed an initiative that may start a large conversation being heard by an audience that is interested in what they are saying.  You can’t buy that kind of undivided attention with mass media!

The other theme that I really liked in the presentation was the explanation of the term Otaku.  Otaku describes the obsession one has with a particular product or service and their uncanny desire to do something as the result of that product or service.  The example Seth uses is how people in Japan who are obsessed with Ramen Noodles.  These people will drive half way across Tokyo just to try a new restaurant serving Ramen Noodle and because of thier obession with Ramen Noodles will remark about their experience to others.

This whole idea of Otaku made me think, who is the market truly obsessed with having an international education?

Is it the student who is obsessed and will talk about a great university that offers a lot of merit aid for foreign students to his friends?  Is it the mother and father who will talk to other parents about the amount of money they can save by having their child go to a particular college in the US?  Is it the alumnus who is really proud of something going on at their school that will tell others to check out a video, podcast or blog on their alma mader’s website?

I would love to hear how other school’s are engaging the different international education community members to attract international students.

Do you have campaigns geared specifically toward prospective international students’ parents as well as the prospective international students?

Who are the gatekeepers that you try to influence, the one’s who have the ability to open the floodgates for your school to get prospective international student inquiries? Agents? Web Services? Tour Companies? EducationUSA offices? Someone that I am failing to mention here?

But ultimately we must ask ourselves…

Do I believe that my school is effectively marketing to the prospective international student market’s Otaku?

Photo by takomabilbelot


Participation Is the Best Publicity for you College or University

Many schools possess the idea that if they have a mere presence on a social network like Facebook or an account on Twitter it means that they are truly employing the power of social media to help them recruit students.  Unfortunately it isn’t that easy.

I always talk about this idea of the internet being a giant conversation.  People are adding to the conversation in many ways whether it’s updating a Facebook status, commenting on a photo or blog, uploading a video to YouTube and so on.  The trick to being successful in this medium is to listen to those whom you find informative and interesting while attracting your target audience to want to listen to you!

Let me provide an example of how participating in the conversation on the web can help you be heard by your target audience!

On goSwoop we provide colleges and universities as well as students profiles.  These profiles however act very similarly to the typical College Board profile for schools or the common college application for students.  So having a dynamic profile isn’t enough to reap the rewards from goSwoop.  The answer is all of the other tools for conversation that colleges and universities can utilize to be heard by prospective international students.

Let’s look at this from the college and university standpoint.  A school can update their profile on goSwoop to present all the information prospective international students need to know in order to get into their college, but how effective is that?  A student has to sift through all the noise on goSwoop to find that information on the school’s profile and then take the time to read and review all the information provided by the school.

So the question is… What should schools be doing to break through the noise and be heard by all these prospective students starving for information on studying in the US?  Voice your opinion in the conversation!

We have a section on goSwoop called the Q&A.  Students can pose questions that anyone in the goSwoop community can answer.  Schools have told me why would they bother answering questions on goSwoop’s Q&A when we are already answering students’ questions via e-mail?

The simple answer to this question is that the traditional ways in which schools are answering questions is in a one on one conversation and not in the more effective one to many conversation they could be having.  By answering students in an environment such as goSwoop’s Q&A, it allows more students to listen to what the school is saying.  Think of it this way…

When you are presenting a seminar to a group of 100 students and one student stands up to ask a question, yes, you are specifically answering that student’s question but everyone else in the room is also listening and learning the information you are providing.  Now imagine you were one on one with that same student in your office and the student asks you the same question.  By not being in that seminar answering the students question you miss out on having the other 99 students hearing the information you are providing.

Think of forums like goSwoop as seminars.  Not only are many students listening to all of the answers you are providing when you participate in these ‘small’ conversations but you are cutting through all the noise and making it easier for students to find you.  For example, take a look at what it looks like when a school answers a question on goSwoop.

Every time a school answers a question on goSwoop, no matter how long or short the answer, students first see that (in this case) Roger Williams University and Saint Mary’s College of California are potential schools to study at in the US but they can click on the school’s name to be linked back to the school’s profile where they can learn more about the school.

By participating in the conversation, colleges and universities are creating more exposure for themselves and also generating more opportunities to drive student traffic to the pages that can ultimately create the most value for the school (your website).

So ask yourself… How well is my school being heard by prospective international students?  Am I an active voice in the conversations of prospective international students?

If your not, don’t be shy, jump in, we would love to hear from you!

Photo By: Mikael Altemark

Technology and International Student Recruiting



Last night was the first ‘Technology and International Student Recruiting‘ Meet-up here in Boston and it was a fantastic conversation.  Many thanks to George and the rest of the folks from Suffolk University who hosted the event!

There were people from all different aspects of tech and higher education who added a lot to the overall conversation and dynamic of the group.

We discussed a lot of points that were interesting last night and though I would share and extend the conversation if anyone else is interested in participating…


We hit the topic of next year’s school budgets and how that would affect travel for international student recruiting.  I wondered if schools were going to be shifting more resources away from travel to utilization of new social media initiatives.  From some people it sounds like schools have no intention to give up travel but are still pouring energy and resources into new media as the millennial target market demands it.

One person commented that physical interaction can’t be beat especially when marketing to international students.  Travel will remain a mainstay of recruiting but schools are becoming even more focused on targeted locations around the world.

Is your school becoming more focused on destinations of travel?  Rather than continent, region, or country are you now more focused on cities or even particular feeder schools?

The impression that I understood is that schools are starting to shy away from the more expensive international student recruiting tours.  It sounds like schools are going to be coming up with alternatives to these tours.

What is your school doing next year?  Giving up on the expensive tours?  Shifting more financial and human capital toward social media and the web?

Evolution of Interaction

Many schools are more accpeting of utilizing new social media intiatives.  Where once Facebook looked to be a daunting proposal for an admissions office (not that it still isn’t) schools are understanding that whether they are are taking an initiative on Facebook, people will be creating pages and groups about their school.  It’s all about if the school wants to participate in that conversation or be ignorant about it.

The interesting point that arose was how students will interact with institutions in a grammatical sense.  Some people commented on how students converse with admissions counselors or instituion staff using the ‘LOL’ speak rather than the typical formal language that we automatically believe everyone will use when communicating with someone in a ‘professional atmosphere’.

Has anyone else experienced this or seen this LOL speak as a growing concern?  I know speaking with the EducationUSA office in Lahore, Pakistan last week, the adviser in the office found that many prospective students don’t know how to interact professionally which of course could ultimately hurt the student in the admissions process.

Establishing Commuities for Students

With schools more willing to embrace new social media initiatives, one admisisons counselor commented on how they are looking for quality opportunities to set up communities for prospective students to engage the school in a conversation.  For example why restrict oneself to Facebook when one can set up communities in more popular country specific social networks like Orkut.com in India and Brazil  or Wer-kennt-wen.de in Germany.

One point that turned out to be a pro and con was who was going to manage these communities especially when the people working in the admissions office can’t speak the language in which the conversation was being held.  Many people agreed that if current international students at their school could spearhead such initiatives it would prove to be super beneficial.  For one, prospective students would much prefer to speak with other international students about what they can expect at a school rather than an admissions counselor in which they will more than likely have a harder time relating to.  But of course, finding a student who is excited and motivate enough to stick with such an initiative can sometimes be a difficult task.

Are any schools utilizing current students to spearhead community building on country specific social networks?  Which countries are you focusing on?

Next Meeting

There will be another meeting next month (March) so if anyone is interested in this topic and interested in hearing what others in this community are doing please join us on the Technology and international Student Recruiting meet up group.