Many universities don’t believe in or have the money to hire overseas agents. An emerging option is to use social media to recruit international students. Having an active presence on Chinese social networks will create brand awareness and help you find Chinese students. Some universities have already begun to do this, but the vast majority have not. Now is the perfect time to get a jump on the competition. Here’s a starter guide to understanding the basics of social media in China.
China’s Answer to Social Networking
Here’s a great infographic from G+ that demystifies the social media landscape in China. Your school might be on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube but Chinese students likely aren’t going to be there since those sites are either blocked or are just not as popular as native platforms. If you are serious about recruiting in China then you need to be on Renren (Facebook), Youku (Youtube), and Sina Weibo (Twitter).
If you are interested in setting up a digital recruiting campaign in China, here are a few helpful resources to get started. The first idea is to just get a Chinese student already on your campus to set everything up for you. Not only can they read and write the language, but they also should be familiar with the nuances of this generation’s technology habits. Other ideas include having current Chinese students record videos about their experience at your university. You can post it on your website, on YouTube, and Youku.
If you can’t find any students or staff from your school that can be your Chinese social media guide, then you can hire an outside firm that specializes in this area. One of the companies that does this is Mark Shay’s Internet Carbon, the North American representative for EduGlobal. They can develop a Chinese language website for your institution, translate brochures, and set your school up on China’s social networks and search engines.
Another option is EIC. They specialize in Chinese social media and can help your school develop an online presence in China. They also provide translation and localization services and offer a dedicated in-country representative.
Zinch China can also help you find Chinese students for your institution. The company has a Chinese language website where Chinese students fill out a profile to showcase themselves to American admissions officers. Zinch also helps universities by providing tips and best practices for recruiting in China.
Social, Digital and Mobile in China
Here is an updated report as of December 2011 on China’s digital landscape. These statistics should help convince everyone of the huge opportunity for online student recruitment in China.
Also check out our previous article that features a beginner’s guide to recruiting in China.
The unfortunate reality is that not every institution has the money and expertise to develop an effective recruiting campaign in China. And while top name institutions can rely on their brand and international reputation to attract students, the other 90% of schools lack this luxury. Fortunately, technology can help even the playing field for universities that are willing to put in the effort to try something new.