Tag Archives: web 2.0

You Don’t Have to Use it Yet; Just Be Open to Social Media

I was at the Social Media Club – Boston event last night where the topic of conversation was “Change dot Gov”.  The panel included Brad Blake, the Director of New Media Strategy for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Matt Viser, a political reporter for the Globe, Brian Reich, a consultant, author, blogger and State Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan.

While listening to the panel, I was struck by how similar the rhetoric used by State Senator  Jennifer Flanagan was to some of the admissions offices I talk to.  Senator Flanagan, while having a constituency that includes an older demographic argued that she receives enough e-mails, talks to enough people while out and about in her community and through the use of her website and blog views Social Media as yet another tool that requires too much time without providing enough benefit for her constituents.

I think her argument can transition well into the international student recruiting space.  Like Senator Flanagan some of our offices may be concentrating our recruiting efforts in countries where students don’t have the same kind of access to the internet or high bandwidth as the developed nations.  This means we don’t need to start using certain tools of social media  just yet because let’s face it, we will be wasting our time.  However this barrier to using social media by developing nations will soon be knocked down.

So how should this affect the way our offices embrace social media?  We need to stay on top of what’s available and how it works. Our prospective students are only becoming more knowledgeable digital natives meaning they have grown up using all this great Internet technology, especially web 2.0 technology.   While next year and the year after prospective students may not require you to engage them exclusively through social media there will come a time where that will be the only way to effectively recruit.

Twitter for example may in fact be the worst tool to recruit international students right now but as it’s global popularity grows, agents in developing nations will begin to pick it up, potential university partners will pick it up, prospective students and so on.  So jump on Twitter and get used to how it works.  Understand how it can be used as a viral tool.  Understand how you can meet new people and develop relationships using it.

My recommendation to admissions offices is not to worry too much about using all the tools right now but to keep up with what’s out there and more importantly how these tools work!

Photo by David Ohmer

Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office’s Time

Not only is our interaction with students via social networks going to grow but the fact of the matter is that it is much more effective to interact with students via social networks and here’s why…

Many admissions recruiters have this idea that social media (web 2.0) is not a productive use of time.  One example of this is the apprehension admissions offices have of setting up a Facebook page.  Some of the offices I have spoken with feel that if they run a Facebook page they will be wasting time having to moderate slanderous comments left by visitors or even have to interact with more prospective students.

Rather than worrying about having to respond to all these comments positive or negative we should realize that these interactions are a great opportunity for us to reach tens, hundreds even thousands of prospective students!

Let’s imagine we are in New Delhi giving a presentation about our school to a group of 100 prospective international students.  100 students are sitting, listening attentively to how our school offers international students a life changing experience.  We talk about how our school is connected to job opportunities in various fields like, the sciences, engineering and finance.  We talk about how easy it is to get involved in the current international student community.  We talk about how many great international student events and student groups there are.

As we wrap up the presentation we ask if anyone has any questions.  One student raises their hand and asks ‘I want to know what I can do to improve my chances of being accepted to your school.  What kind of extracurricular activities do you like to see?  Which test scores do you look at closely?  What range of scores would give me the best chance of being accepted?’

As we prepare to answer this question we think if it would be easier to talk to the student one on one after the presentation or if we should answer the student right there and then?  This decision is a very important one!!!

If we decide to answer this question right there and then, 100 people get to hear our answer.  That is 99 more than if we answer the students question after the presentation!  Remember how our teachers in school would tell us not to be afraid to ask a question because 10 other people in the class probably have the same question? Well the same goes here, there are many other students with similar questions who might be afraid to ask so it is always important to answer as many questions as we can in front of as many people as we can.

So how does this relate to social media (web 2.0)?  Say on our Facebook page someone writes a comment on our wall asking the same question as above.  Or consider someone posts a comment about our school that is false and we now have to take a few minutes to share the truth.  By answering the question or the comment on our wall (not a private message or e-mail) it is as if we are answering that question in front of a large audience like in New Delhi.  Just because we are responding to one student doesn’t mean that tens, hundreds, even thousands of other students aren’t reading our answer!

Think about that for a minute.  Any time we respond to a comment left on one of our photos, videos, wall, etc. there is a possibility that there are tens, hundreds, even thousands of people who are reading what we write!

That is the power of social media (web 2.0).  Even though we aren’t aware of all the people who are reading what we write on Facebook, the effect of our communication via that medium is much more effective than writing e-mails or private messages in response to each individual student’s question or comment.

Consider this thought:

E-mail response = 1 person hearing the answer to a question

Social media response = tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people hearing the answer to a question!

Which do you prefer?

Photo by Hoong Wei Long

2009 Predictions for International Student Recruiting

With the end of 2008 drawing closer what better time than now to make some predictions about 2009.  Cheryl Drrup-Boychuck of the U.S. Journal of Academics points out some of the trends that she sees approaching our international student market in her report, ‘Top Nine Trends for 2009‘.

Here are some additional comments on a few of the trends that she foresees…

1. Travel vs. Technology:

More so than just a decrease in the budget for traveling I see the need to meet the new prospective international student in places that are comfortable for them.  Let’s remember that it won’t be very long before the students we are targeting are the ones born after the advent of the world wide web!  So make sure you are learning how to use web technology!

5. Global Mobile Usage:

Forget e-mail, embrace sms and mobile phone apps!  There is going to be a shift over the next few years where we see fewer and fewer Gen Y prospective students touching PC’s.  Everything is going to be about the mobile phone!

Not only ask yourself if your institution’s website has a mobile version but are you interacting with students via their mobile devices?  Rather than collecting the e-mails of prospective students on your recruiting trips or on your digital inquiry cards start collecting mobile phone numbers!!!

8. EducationUSA’s Global Marketing Strategy:

If you are going to begin embracing the use of social media and web 2.0 technology make sure EducationUSA offices are very aware of what you are using and how student can find you on the web.  As we all know these offices reach so many prospective students every year.  So have EducationUSA help you by distributing the various avenues in which prospective students can learn more about you!


Are You a Social ‘Admissions’ Office?

I have had a lot of fun meeting and talking to many college and university international admissions recruiters over the past few years.  One common theme that always arises from these conversations is how admissions offices can embrace ‘web 2.0’ technology.  Everyone is under the realization that the next wave of prospective international students spend more time on the internet than anyone before and for this reason we know that our traditional methods of recruiting need to evolve.

Throughout these conversations the topic of social networking always arises.  ‘We have a Facebook group (or page) where students can find us!’ is a statement I hear a lot.

While I too agree that Facebook is a great place for exposure and interacting with prospective students, it is not the antidote to the problem of enhancing our recruiting of Generation Y prospective students.

There are so many more opportunities other than Facebook for us to broaden our ability to recruit prospective international students.

Where do I start?

The first question to ask yourself is ‘how social is your admissions office?’

What I mean by this is… working in the field of international student recruiting, we need to be extremely educated in the use of social media.  So are you going out and learning from others what the emerging prospective international student market is utilizing and how you can use it to help your admissions office?

This industry is in the midst of a major shift.  While some of our traditional recruiting techniques will still be effective, knowing what technology our prospective international students are using and how WE can use it will prove to be the game breaker between very successful recruiting schools and the status quo.

How do I get social?

If you are ready to learn and accept the challenge to educate yourself on the technology your emerging prospective student market is using a great place to start is to GET OUT OF YOUR ADMISSIONS OFFICE!

I live in the Boston area and I love it because there are so many people around here who are gurus with social media and love to share what they know.  I learn more about what technology is available how to use these different technologies by going to meet-ups after work and listening to these guys.

I would recommend starting by looking on the web for meetups in your area.  Here are a few website suggestions to get started:

www.meetup.com – place to find meetups in your area

www.upcoming.yahoo.com– place to find meetups in your area

www.marksguide.com – guide for those of us in Boston

www.rinexus.com – awesome social events in the Providence, RI area

www.bostonmediamakers.com – great place to learn about media technology if you live in the Boston area

If anyone else has suggestions feel free to let me know or throw them up in the comments section!