It’s all anyone seems to be talking about. COVID-19 is disrupting our day-to-day: we’re working and learning from home, embracing delivery services, and trying to keep up with seemingly hourly changes in travel and immigration restrictions. But the silver lining of this new “normal” is that its forcing us to get creative both with our new home offices and how we engage with prospective students.
As educators find themselves embracing edu-tech and teaching online, recruitment teams should do the same. Unsure of what digital student recruitment might look like for your team,?We're here to help you get started.
If They Can’t Come to You, Go to Them:
A focused message should be at the core of your digital marketing and recruitment strategy. It should demonstrate your commitment to an internationalized student experience, reassure prospective students and make it clear that your campus is excited to welcome them.
Host virtual tours and webinars to encourage students to ask questions and see your campus “first hand”. These programs should be optimized for mobile devices: mobile phones are the most used method of communication in China.
Understand and Diversify Your Digital Presence in China:
Your team might have checked all the boxes from your side of the world, but its important to know what prospective students are seeing so you can fill knowledge gaps and communicate the best of what your campus has to offer. [Source].
Baidu: The, “Google of China”. A quick search of your school’s name may produce some surprising results.
Weibo: A Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter with 413 million+ users.
Bing: A commonly used English-language search engine.
WeChat: China’s “app for everything”. With over 1 billion monthly users, WeChat is the preferred method of communication in China. Admissions and recruitment staff will find that having a personal account can go a long way for communicating with prospective students and families.
Online Recruitment Platforms: These platforms allow you to host webinars, connect your staff and agents to Chinese students and highlight key information. Many of these services are paid for, but some, like eduFair China, are free.
Leverage Your Existing Networks:
In-country alumni networks are a trusted source of information for students and parents. Alumni networks can breach timezones and travel restrictions to increase engagement rates with prospective students on-the-ground.
Agent networks will strengthen your in-country presence. Help students connect to those who can connect them with you.
Student ambassadors are a valuable resource. Current student experience sets a strong precedent for how students will be supported and accommodated should a future crisis arise.
Prioritize Current International Students:
Your school’s duty of care is to your current students. Ensuring that international students feel supported and informed will help them feel comfortable during a particularly stressful time and set a high standard for your school's approach to unforeseen challenges. Ensure that you and your team are ready to explain campus’ response to the virus and answer any questions from prospective students about future impacts on school policy and procedure.
“My friend/cousin/sister/teacher studied there….”: word-of-mouth is hugely influential during student decision-making; remember that your current international student’s experience will become a reliable reflection of your school to prospective students.
This is the time to be an early adopter. The more adaptable your team is to new technologies and avenues of communication now, the more sustainable your recruitment will be. As educators, we know that adaptability in the face of change is essential for the success of our students and administrations. This is a challenging situation. We're here to help.
Still have questions about taking your recruitment digital? Contact Derrik Karst to find out how your team can reach thousands of Chinese students looking for a school like yours: firstname.lastname@example.org.