The user journey is no longer about a linear path but instead about finding intent-rich moments and providing a valuable experience based on the student’s online behaviour. This includes looking at the things they do that indicate their interests and can be used to predict their next steps. It means, for example, looking at the keywords they search for, the sites they visit, the ads they click, the videos they watch and so forth.
Social media is a great tool that can help your institution provide users with a valuable online experience by delivering your brand’s values and establishing credibility in the markets you are recruiting from. These platforms are an efficient way to amplify your online presence and support the meeting of recruitment objectives.
Facts about social media
- There are over 3 billion active social media users
- The average daily time spent on social is 116 minutes
- There is a new social media user every 10 seconds
- Internet users have an average of 6 social media accounts
- There are over 60 million active business pages on Facebook
Source: Smart Insights
How can social media help reach prospective international students?
By now you are hopefully already convinced that social media can play an important role in your international recruitment. However, you’re still wondering how exactly it can help with recruitment objectives. Facebook is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to start for four main reasons:
(1) Your brand is likely already present on Facebook: It’s very possible that your institutions already has a Global page strategy in order to provide localized experiences to the audience. It’s important that you are using appropriate language and creative assets that represent the audience and the culture you’re communicating with. Also, that the promoted content is not commercial but useful, student-led posts.
(2) Facebook has a solid international presence: regardless of the market you’re recruiting from, it’s very likely that your prospective audience is among Facebook’s worldwide 32 billion monthly active users. This enables you to connect your brand with people who matter to your strategy wherever they are.
(3) The ad targeting ability: your pages can run adverts to help expand its brand’s value and boost engagement. You can create an audience for your ad through a variety of targeting options including demographic data and people’s interests.
(4) Cross device presence: the world has gone mobile, therefore, it’s important that your brand reaches your audience wherever they are likely to be spending most of their time, on desktop and/or mobile. Facebook is positioned to offer a valuable cross device experience.
Universities are now able to reach prospective students in a powerful personal context. There is incredible value to be gained by utilizing Facebook as part of an overall marketing strategy.
Moving prospective students to the bottom of the funnel
Use Facebook to create unique targeted advertising campaigns to connect with prospective students through relevant and valuable content that tells your brand’s story in a way that helps users throughout their study abroad journey.
Here are some ways that Facebook can help move international prospective students to the bottom of the funnel and support your recruitment objectives:
- Awareness stage: at this stage, you can work with lookalike audiences which are basically people who are not your contact but have a similar profile.
There are three types of lookalike audience:
(1) Those with a similar profile to people who follow you on Facebook
(2) Similar to people who visited your site (based on pixel data)
(3) Based on the contacts you have in your database
Therefore, lookalike audiences are a great way to reach new students who have not yet been impacted by your marketing activities.
However, remember that in order to have lookalike audiences performing well it’s important to develop precise personas. If your brand has been driving lower quality traffic the lookalike campaigns will likely generate more of this traffic.
Additionally, videos are the best method to promote your brand and courses through social networks to help create a human connection. Retention on video is higher, tends to rank better on social algorithms and resonates with people in a way that other content formats can’t do.
Creating testimonial videos from current and former students talking about their experience and favourite things while studying at your university is an effective tactic to build trust and awareness via lookalike audiences.
- Consideration stage: at this stage, you can use remarketing (level 1) campaigns to target people who have interacted with your lookalike ad by encouraging them to visit the lead form on your website. Because they have previously engaged with your ad, they have now moved to the consideration stage of the funnel.
This provides a unique opportunity to target people who have viewed your testimonial video by creating an engagement custom audience to drive engaged students to your site in order to learn more about your brand, register for an event, download a prospectus or even subscribe to a webinar or your newsletter.
- Conversion stage: you can now move students to the bottom of the funnel by targeting people who have been impacted by your ad in the consideration stage, visited your lead form on our site but didn’t take the desired action. One of the most effective campaign types at this stage is remarketing (level 2) to people who have abandoned your lead form.
Retargeting campaigns often involve those ads which we start seeing everywhere after visiting a website (on the Facebook platform they are displayed on the news feed). If well implemented, they are very powerful and a great way to reengage your audience providing prospective students with a rich experience based on their online behaviour.
Retargeting is very easy to implement. Your developer can effortlessly have a conversion-tracking installed on your site that will enable you to remarket to people who expressed interest in specific courses while visiting your website.
Deliver a great experience through “re-targeting” campaigns using translated copywriting with an offer in line with topics (or pages) students have shown interest in, such as courses, city life, visa info, accommodation, funding etc.
Over time your institution has likely invested a lot to attract students who may never return to your websites without prompting. Retargeting them is one way to increase the effectiveness of your efforts. Use Facebook to create uniquely targeted advertising campaigns and connect with students who matter to your brand.