The IACAC conference presentation entitled, “Social Influence: Elevating Student Stories on Social Media,” was based upon this premise.
The session featured five panellists, including the new IACAC president, Kristoffer Toribio, who serves as the assistant director of Global Engagement and manager of International Admissions at Orange Coast College. All of the presenters addressed specific strategies they have utilised to amplify student voices on social media. They also acknowledged potential downfalls to avoid.
Associate director of International Admissions at the University of Rochester, Brendan Bond, spoke about the importance of how a school or department “defines its own success regarding social media engagement” and stressed periodically having those conversations, whether a team is at the novice or expert level.
And in the quest to consistently push out content, Bond also asked the group to consider, “Is more better, or is quality engagement what teams should be striving for?”
University of Connecticut international senior admissions officer, Kristina Rivera reminded that WeChat is a critical tool to reach Chinese students and families. “We see a lot of student organisations creating their own WeChat groups too.”
However, the preferred platform for most Chinese students at UConn is now Weibo, she noted.
Toribio proffered that leaning in to student-created content often eases the burden of small or understaffed admissions offices.
“It’s a great way to look at consuming and purchasing,” he argued. “What are students interfacing with? Are they looking at what kind of scholarship opportunities are available? How to find an on-campus job? What is it like living in the US?”
He also highlighted some key social media influencers who illuminate international student life, many whose follower counts exceed the one million mark. He indicated that influencers are responsible for driving much traffic to universities, as social media is the main source of information consumption by youth.
Director of Global Communications at KIC UnivAssist, Kate Lotz implored that “a critical thing to think about when setting up social media channels is maintaining a consistent presence”.
“A critical thing to think about when setting up social media channels is maintaining a consistent presence”
“You can’t just set up a channel and post once a week,” Lotz said. “You have to post often, respond to comments, and DM people back, or they will quickly lose interest.”
Maureen Manning, vice president of Strategy and Insight at The PIE, suggested offering students increased opportunities to share their journeys on social media to enhance the depth and breadth of coverage, and to promote a deeper understanding of students’ lived experiences.
She referenced the Student Roundtables event at the spring PIE Live in London, a standing room only breakout session in which leaders in IE had the opportunity to learn first-hand about students’ experiences.
“The stories the students shared with the educational leaders were incredibly compelling,” Manning stated. “From triumphing over significant adversity to sharing the joys and challenges of daily life as an international student, the information stakeholders received by listening to students was eye-opening to many.”