Sign in to Your Account Done
Forgot account info?

Don't have an Account?

Register Now!

International Student
Study In:

Social Media and Recruiting International Students

Social Calendar

Social media is often overlooked as a recruitment tool, but when used properly it can be a good supplement to your recruitment plan. With most students around the world on at least one social networking site, wants to show you how to improve upon your current strategy or get started with recruiting international students on social media.

Why is Social Media Important?

  • Social media helps people all over the world connect with and communicate with each other.
  • According to We Are Social’s Digital 2020 report, over 3.8 billion people use social media.
  • It’s an economical way to expand your reach.

Best Social Media Practices:

To help you along your social media journey, we have compiled a variety of information, including test results to provide you with this guide. Utilizing these practices in your social media marketing can help you see positive recruiting results:


The most successful pages on social media post at least once a day. Using a scheduling tool will help ensure that your institution does this even through holidays and weekends. A lot of these tools provide analytics reports so that your institution can keep track of your social media ROI. When trying to reach an international audience, institutions should take into account the time difference between their location and their target audience’s location. Here are some of the most popular scheduling tools used by businesses and the pros and cons that come with them:


Pro: It’s the only one of these three options that offers a multi-column calendar view.
Con: Limited capabilities when it comes to working as a team.

$15/month for Pro; $65/month for Premium; $99/month for Business*


Pro: Includes analytics for specific posts across all platforms.
Con: Several users have reported problems with pushing posts to Instagram.

$15/month for Pro; $65/month for Premium; $99/month for Business*

Sprout Social

Pro: A great tool for large teams. You can assign tasks and job functions.
Con: It’s pricey.

$99 per user/month for Standard; $149 per user/month for Professional; $249 per user/month for Advanced*


Research shows that one of the best times to post for engagement on social media is mid-day around lunchtime on weekdays but there is no one specific time that works best for everyone. Experiment with posting at various times of the day in order to find out the best time for you to post. For international student recruitment, also consider time zones. If the bulk of your target audience lives in a specific time zone, you should schedule posts that fall within the ideal time for engagement in that time zone. To find out what time your audience tends to be on Facebook, go to your page, click Insights, click Posts on the left-hand side, then select “When Your Fans Are Online.” This will show you how many of your Facebook fans were online by time of day (Pacific Time).

Engaging Content

Engaging an international audience can be challenging because of cultural differences. It’s important to know what your target audience likes and can relate to. Here are a few categories of content that we find international students respond to most on social media:

  • Visuals - Creating videos and images for your page is a great way to get reach and engagement up. Twitter reports that tweets with photos average a 35% increase in retweets and according to Hubspot, Social media posts with video have 48% more views than those that don't have a video. Take a look at the reach and engagement for posts with a video or image(s) vs. reach and engagement for posts without those visual aspects:
    Type Average Reached Average Engagement
  • Emojis - Using emojis in posts can also give the post something extra that catches eyes and is likely to increase engagement.
  • Informational - News, quick facts, student testimonials, and other information about the institution are likely to get international students to engage.
  • Facebook poll Polls - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all allow you to run polls with your followers. Not only are these great for engagement but they can provide insight for your institution. Choosing the right poll questions for your audience is essential in getting the best results for your engagement. Since the subject matter is international student recruitment, try to pick questions related to education such as the one pictured to the right. This is more of a general question but it’s a good idea to ask questions specific to your institution. For example, ask a question about the school’s history, staff, programs, etc. Just keep in mind that Facebook polls on pages only allow for two answer options unless you use a third-party poll app.
  • Memes - College students love memes. They have an international appeal and can help your institution get past any cultural differences that might exist. Plus, they’re easily shareable and you could go viral.
  • Quotes - International students look to social media to inspire their educational journey. Posting a quote relating back to your institution or otherwise is great for engagement and could inspire students to choose to study abroad.
  • Contests - Holding a contest on social media every once in a while can garner interest in your institution’s page and thereafter interest in your institution.

Boosted Posts

Facebook offers the option for pages to “boost” posts in order to increase reach and engagements. We conducted a test to show how much post reach and engagement increases on our Facebook page after boosting.

Prior to Boosting
Posted: On Facebook
Time Period: Three Days
Organic Reach: 928
Organic Engagements: 15
Ad post
Boost Results
Posted on: Facebook and Instagram
Time Period: 5 days
Reach: 28,040 (2921.55% increase)
Engagements: 7,718 (51353.3% increase)
Boost results

Boosting Process:

When you boost a post on Facebook, you will have to set various fields in order for Facebook’s ad algorithm to produce the best results for your boost. The first fields Facebook will ask you to set are the objective and the optional post button.

  • Set an objective based on what you would like to get out of the boosted post. If you want to see more engagement on your page, set your objective to ‘Post engagements’. If you want to connect with more prospective international students, select ‘Messages’ as your objective. For the objective of our boost, we chose ‘Post engagements’.
  • Facebook will also give you the option to add a button to your post. If your post has a link attached, it’s a good idea to make use of this button so that your audience will now have two opportunities to click on the link.

Next, you will need to complete the special ad category, audience, and automatic placements fields.

  • Facebook defines special ad categories as credit, employment, and housing offers. Only turn this on if your ad relates to one of those three special ad categories. For this boost, we did not turn this on.
  • Choose who you want to target. You choose to target people by location and age, people who like your page, people who like your page and their friends or people in your local area. For international student recruiting it’s probably a good idea to choose your audience through targeting. For example, if you’re looking for leads and leads from Taiwan convert well, you should consider targeting Taiwan.
  • Facebook recommends that you turn on automatic placements because they will use your boost’s budget to place the ad where it will likely perform the best. We like to use this feature.

Finally, you will have to select a duration and a budget for your boost.

  • Set these fields according to how much you would like to spend and how many you would like to reach. According to Facebook, ads that run for at least 4 days perform the best. Social Our final findings for this post in organic reach vs. paid reach concludes that paid reach far out-performs organic reach.


Organic vs paid

Connecting with followers and other accounts on social media is arguably the best thing you can do for recruitment purposes. International students want to feel like they are interacting with a real human. Here’s what you can do to connect on social media:

  • Respond to comments on your posts and direct messages.
  • Follow back current and prospective students


As briefly mentioned previously, utilizing analytics is the best way to ensure ROI on your social marketing. There are two main actions that you should take to get the most out of your analytics: social tracking and using Google Analytics.

Social Tracking

Social tracking directly through the platform or through a scheduling tool is essential to know how your posts are performing. Hootsuite, for example, provides analytic reports for every social media platform attached to the account. This includes the number of posts, engagements, followers, etc. You can set parameters for the time period in which you need analytics then gather the information through an export or manually record it. Two key items you will want to track are followers and engagement.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an excellent business tool for a number of reasons. However, Google Analytics is essential for social marketing to track actual traffic and conversion rates from your campaigns. Through this tool, you can determine the exact amount of traffic coming from each of your social media platforms and even count the exact number of link clicks from a post through UTM tracking.

UTM coding a URL through Google Analytics allows you to put a tracker on any links that are included in social media posts. For example, if your school’s social media account wanted to promote a webinar, put a UTM tracker on the link to the webinar to track clicks and overall interest. Take a look at how we use UTM tracking to promote schools on social media:

UMT tracking

You’ll want to enter all of the required information including the website URL, campaign source, campaign medium and campaign name. For more specific campaigns, enter a campaign term and for an ad use campaign content but these fields are optional. The campaign URL builder will produce a URL with UTM coding allowing you to track the URL in Google Analytics. It’s always a good idea to shorten this URL before using it in a post. The Campaign URL Builder uses to shorten your links by clicking on “Convert URL to Short Link”.

After you have promoted your UTM coded link you’re able to go to Google Analytics, set date parameters and check the performance of your campaign. There, you will see important statistics on the performance of your campaign including users who initiated a session through the link, new users, total sessions, bounce rate (percentage of users who clicked away from the page without taking action), number of page sessions (average number of pages viewed during the session), and the average session duration.

Further Information

If you would like more information on how can help you with your international student marketing and recruitment strategy, including your social media marketing plan, contact us for more details.

*Information on scheduling tools was gathered in May 2020.

Get the International Student newsletter!