Today’s post is a guest post written by Mandy Reinig. Mandy is the Director of International Education at St Mary’s College in Maryland, USA. She is also the owner and founder of Mandy’s Mashups which provides consulting services on using social media in international education: www.mandysmashups.com
As you know social media has become a huge part of everyday life for many people. It has also become an important strategy for those working in the international education field. Many institutions and providers have really been able to capitalize on the various social media tools and create an integrative strategy for marketing and communication using a variety of social media tools.
As a general observation, program providers seem to be doing a much better job than institutions in integrating and maintaining their social media presence. Part of this is due to resources. Many program providers have individuals dedicated just to social media, meaning that they can spend all day enhancing their social media profiles. On the other hand, institutions are typical dealing with limited resources and tight budgets and IE Offices can’t have individuals solely working on social media. The person filling this role within international education offices is usually someone who is doing social media on their own or as a small piece of their overall job responsibilities.
However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t institutions doing a nice job of integrating social media into their communication strategies. It may mean they are focusing on one or two tools more effectively rather than attempting to use them all. This is actually a great strategy for a smaller office or one that doesn’t have a person dedicated to social media for IE purposes, in general.
Just to give you an idea of some of the organizations and institutions out there doing it right here is a list of the most popular social media tools and those that are getting it right.
- @ConnectStateGov – good resources on exchanges
- @APIstudyabroad – excellent resource for study abroad information and of a provider doing social media right
- @GoAbroad – nice source of international travel information and doing social media right
- @ArcadiaAbroad – great example of a provider and institution doing social media right
- @ISAabroad – another example of a provider using social media to their advantage
- RecruiterGenius – great example of a blogger posting great information for international student recruitment
- @CLSscholarship – nice example of a scholarship provider sending out great information
- @AmusedAdvisor – fun example – someone posting on all the crazy things students say
- @GoCCAbroad – nice example of a IE office getting it right.
- University of Maryland – nice variety
- Abroad 101 – good travel information
- Arcadia Abroad – nice variety of information
- Academic Programs International – posts blogs, tips, promotional information, etc.
- International Studies Abroad – travel information, promotional information, general travel tips
- University of California Santa Barbara – overall good variety of information and topics
- St. Mary’s College of Maryland – information for both outgoing and incoming students
- International Studies Abroad – good variety of information for outgoing students
- University of Florida International Center – interesting topics
- University of North Carolina – Wilmington – good variety and frequency of posting
- Academic Programs International – frequent postings and good variety
- Students Gone Global – great information for those wanting to travel abroad
So now that you have these resources you may be asking yourself what makes them better than others you may find out there. Well, here is what makes them better than others.
- Consistency of posting
- Whatever this means for your organization (ex. Once a week, once a day, etc.)
- Variety of posting (more than just events but pics, videos, etc.)
- Anything visual is more appealing that just text
- Providing information students want vs. what you want to post
- Using student information and student writers (with guidelines)
These are just a few things that can really make your Facebook Page, Pinterest boards, etc. really stand out. Another important point I want to make is that it is important to have objectives/goals for using social media. Without these you are just posting for posting’s sack. In addition, if you don’t have objectives/goals than you will not know if you are effectively using social media for your particular audience. Know that what works for the organizations/institutions above may not work for you. It will depend on your goals/objectives; however, they are a good starting place for your adventures with social media.
Now, you can go forth and start posting! If you want more information please feel free to check out my website at http://www.mandysmashups.com. I offer various webinars related to social media including my upcoming one on Pinterest for International Education.