Social Media Gives Prospective International College Students a Sneak Peek

Article excerpt

Social media is a part of seemingly every conversation on every topic. And university recruitment and retention is no exception.

And "what's great about social media," says Henry Broaddus, College of William and Mary associate provost for enrollment and dean of admissions, is that "your audience is talking back to you.... Before, recruitment was sort of, you want to push your message out. Now it's a dialogue."

David Joiner, director for global engagement and leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that social media gives students in other countries, as well as their stakeholders--those who would be footing the bill for their education--an opportunity to see what life as an American student would be like before they arrive in the states.

"The best way to tell your story is on social media platforms.... You think about how do you provide international students with high quality experiences ... that can be captured by cell phone cameras. Students build their online identities through social media," Joiner says.

"The Web is opening up access of information globally.... There's increasingly greater access to the Web, even in places where the resources aren't there," says Clay Hensley, director of international strategy and relationships for the College Board.

For example, under the leadership of Joiner, whom Hensley praises, UW-Madison has been enormously successful recruiting applicants in China, where most social media sites are restricted except via mobile devices.

"There is a different kind of access; mobile devices are now equipped to access Web communication," Hensley says. "Barriers aren't quite as strong" on mobile platforms.

Joiner emphasizes a need for university personnel to consider a few things before setting a social media recruitment strategy: how to manage channels, if using multiple platforms, how to provide those "capturable" experiences for students and what activities your students want to be associated with.

"An important aspect of social media strategy is to think through the structure of activities so that students who are participating have an opportunity to capture those pictures and share them on their social media platform of choice," Joiner says.

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