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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman & Alex Rumi

Peer Check: How Edu Marketers Use Social to Engage

 

Don’t blame Gen Z, but their insatiable appetite for social media can create quite the content grind on the backend. We hear it from our clients. Why must engaging social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which afford marketers all the playfulness and flexibility you could ever want, require so much time and attention? It’s the lament of the modern marketer. 

Content creation is not time intensive. You can use ChatGPT and crank out reams of it in minutes. (As if!) 

See last week's post for our perspective on the use of ChatGPT for enrollment marketing (or any marketing).

Engaging, authentic, effective content creation is highly time-intensive. 

Our advice: stay calm and scroll on. Sometimes, you just need a little inspiration from others who are playing in your same space.  


Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • 2024 AIEA Annual Conference in DC, Feb 18-21, 2024
  • ICEF North America in Niagara Falls, Canada, May 1-3, 2024
  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in LA, May 28-31, 2024

Let us know if you’ll come share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 


So today, we invite you to pause for a quick competitor looksee. We’re not talking about fast-moving trends – those fleeting fads are here one day and gone the next, literally. Remember Wednesday’s (Jenna Ortega’s) dance on TikTok? 22 billion views in 2023. Loved it, right? Not so much on anyone’s mind today, though. 

You can always check TikTok’s Trending Intelligence for the latest. Instead, let’s focus on more lasting ways to use social media in your digital marketing. And yes, we will be checking on what your peers are up to. 

So, read on to get an edge in your social media strategy and draw inspiration (or perhaps critique) from a few real-world applications.  

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The Questionable Use of Shortcut Tools – ChatGPT and Templates

 

Until Threads, ChatGPT was the fastest-growing consumer app in history taking a short 2 months to amass 100 million users. Though Threads’ frenetic growth has tapered (and then some), interest in the AI tool has more than 1.4 billion visitors actively engaged with it each month.  

Today, it’s all about the tools we use that offer us shortcuts to our work as marketers. While ChatGPT is the latest shortcut tool, it is not so different in so many ways from the old school marketing template that saves us time and if misused (like ChatGPT) reduces, even eliminates, our creativity and effectiveness.

On the surface, we can point to a plan well executed, right? Our starting point has already been legitimized based on past performance (ChatGPT or some previously used design or report template). So, it stands to reason that using those tools will produce similar results. Uhm, maybe…

But probably not.

It is basic human nature. Use of shortcut tools often means we slack off on scrutinizing the details of what we are producing. Less scrutiny of what we produce and deliver to the world, less customization of our messaging and content, means we are prone to error. Some of those errors can be hugely damaging.

There goes our credibility with our target audiences.


Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • 2024 AIEA Annual Conference in DC, Feb 18-21, 2024
  • ICEF North America in Niagara Falls, Canada, May 1-3, 2024
  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in LA, May 28-31, 2024

Let us know if you’ll share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 


Looking particularly at ChatGPT, its ability to read and synthesize the entirety of the internet is amazing, staggering. Searching and understanding for complex information and analysis of huge datasets - what a time savings. Useful with even not so complex information. If only it provided reliable results without blending information inappropriately and even fabricating results out of thin air. Recent ads we've heard from AI service providers include the claim, "hallucination-free AI." Uhm, what?

Can you truly promise that? How did we get to a place where you need to promise that? 

When even the experts cannot explain to us how and why AI is producing falsehoods, when we get information that might have completely fabricated results and basic users (non-subject matter experts) cannot identify which pieces of information are accurate and which are not, we are in serious trouble.

Read on for perspective and our actionable what to do checklist. We want to help you, as a marketer, use shortcuts like AI and marketing templates wisely and avoid falling into the banality of functionality – the death knell of any marketing effort and potentially, the killer of a brand's soul. 

Important Note to Readers: This is not another article on how to master ChatGPT prompts to get ‘genius’ responses.  

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Omnichannel Marketing 101


If something isn’t online, does it even exist? We jest, and yet, without a strong online brand presence, many prospective students and their families really won’t know you exist. Because let's face it, prospective students today are basically born with smartphones in hand and earbuds on. If something isn’t online, it’s next to invisible in their world. 

That’s why institutions across the board have spent the past decade+ ramping up digital marketing budgets, perfecting their Insta image, and all the rest. A recent Washington Post article claims some well-funded universities are spending upwards of $1-2 million per month on digital ad campaigns alone. (Emphasis there on "well-funded!")

While that number is not industry average, most institutions do not have a Barbie budget, that figure is still a clear indication that digital is mission critical to higher ed marketing. No surprise to you or your finance team.  

But here’s the thing. The newest crop of students and their tag-along Gen Alpha siblings are at once more immersed and less smitten with social media. It's certainly no longer novel. Social media is life as they know it and they are adept at downloading ad blockers and avoiding sales pitches. So take note. Authenticity rules, while overproduced and slick messages are generally ignored.  

Our recommendation is to keep honing your digital marketing game, with this caveat in mind: your digital approach works best in tandem with other channels. We are talking out-of-home, print, in-person, and the like. In other words, the best-bet strategy is omnichannel.


We’ll be at AIEA in DC in about 5 weeks and participating in 3 great presentations: 

  • AI for enrollment management  
  • Entrepreneurial leadership in bureaucratic environments 
  • A discussion around International Student Points of Entry and a new publication to be released later in 2024 

And of course, we will be presenting at NAFSA in New Orleans in late May. If you’d like to schedule time to chat over coffee instead of over Zoom, please be in touch (info@intead.com). 


Read on to better understand the importance of omnichannel marketing and how you can use it to engage your target audience and grow your enrollment numbers.  

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Navigating the TikTok Ad Platform: Part 2


Last week we helped dissect the TikTok ad platform. If you took anything away from that read, we bet you learned that:

  • Its popularity among Gen Z is undeniable (76% use it!).  
  • Branded and search-based advertising on TikTok is possible (hello Brand Takeover and Search Ads Toggle!).
  • Surprisingly, TikTok targeting leaves something to be desired. Proceed with a partner who knows how to make an impact.

But for all of that, we didn’t even touch on content creation. And with this platform, that’s the crux of it all. 


Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • AIRC Annual Conference – we’ll be offering our full day digital marketing workshop here in Phoenix, Dec 6-9, 2023 
  • ICEF North America Workshop in Miami, Dec 11-13, 2023 

Let us know if you’ll come share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 


Back to the matter of Tik Tok content. On the one hand, institutions have professional brands to uphold, yet the audience engaging on TikTok demands a more organic, playful view of said brand. It’s a marketing balancing act to say the least. And then there’s the matter of targeting capabilities, which on TikTok are more or less hamstrung. (Wait a minute – what?! If this surprises you, then you may be behind on your reading. Important to catch up with last week’s post. Here's the link again. We promise it will be worth 5 minutes of your time. TikTok may be famous for its algorithm, not so much for its audience segmentation.)

TikTok thrives on the art of brevity and entertainment. Your content must engage and convey your message within seconds, 9-15 is optimal. And to do that you must not only know what it is you want to say, you must know what it is your audience wants to receive. While that’s true of any marketing channel, it’s do or die here. Understanding the unique language and rhythm of this platform is paramount. More bluntly, if your ad isn’t a video that is short, sweet, and entertaining, don’t bother.

Today we offer pro tips for doing just that. Read on to learn how to make your content feel native to TikTok’s seemingly all-knowing algorithm so you can maximize the impact of your ad spend. This post is a short read, and one you won’t want to miss.

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Navigating the TikTok Ad Platform: Part 1


Is TikTok effective for student recruitment advertising? An increasingly common head scratching good question.

Without giving it too much thought, you might assume, “Of course it is.” After all, isn’t TikTok the one surefire spot to find every Gen Z-er and their Gen Alpha sibs? 


Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • AIRC Annual Conference – we’ll be offering our full day digital marketing workshop here in Phoenix, Dec 6-9, 2023 
  • ICEF North America Workshop in Miami, Dec 11-13, 2023 

Let us know if you’ll come share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 


Continuing with the Tao of Tik Tok, statistics like these are telling:

  • 76% of Gen Z say they use TikTok, surpassing even YouTube with a 71% Gen Z saturation rate, and Instagram at 66%. (source: YPulse)
  • As of July 2023, TikTok had 122 million users in the US alone, followed by 100 million in Indonesia, 83 million in Brazil, 63 million in Mexico, 45 million in Vietnam. (source: Statista)
  • As of November 2022, Douyin (China’s TikTok) had over 700 million active users, more than one-third of whom are under the age of 26. (source: Value Planet, Diesel Smart Numbers) Note: Douyin’s interactive format is the same as Tik Tok (same company), but the advertising platform in China is entirely separate from the platform for the rest of the world.
  • The number of TikTok users are projected to grow to 955+ million by 2025. (source: Statista)
  • 25% of the TikTok audience is under 20 years old, as are many of your prospective students. (source: Exploding Topics)
  • 68% of TikTok users find its advertising content unique and different from all other platforms – a good thing if you want your brand to stand out. (source: TikTok)

Yet, there’s more to consider. For instance, unlike its organic For You feed, TikTok’s ad capabilities are, for now, more rudimentary, meaning you have to target a much broader audience on TikTok than you do, say, on Meta’s platform (Facebook and Instagram). There are simply less ways to find specific audiences on TikTok forcing you to cast a very wide net with your media buy. As a result, you reach more but less targeted eyeballs, which of course costs you. Not ideal. And then there’s the challenge of producing content that blends in seamlessly with the authentic, user-generated content. More on that in part 2.

Side note: there is a reason Meta’s media platforms are producing so much ad revenue. Meta has built the most user-friendly advertising management system (better than Google as a very close second). Marketers love these tools for their ability to design, launch, track, and optimize campaigns.

Still, we know you’re curious about how marketers can use TikTok. And your instincts tell you to give it a try. We’re right there with you. In fact, we’re having a lot of fun creating and playing around on its ad platform for a few of our clients even as we write this post. Stay tuned for our campaign learnings and results in a future post.

So, let’s talk all things TikTok advertising. Read on to understand how TikTok ad targeting works and what pitfalls to be aware of to make the most of this social media platform. 

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Should Threads Be in Your Edu Marketing Strategy?


Students and digital media, right? TikTok rules! Oh, and Instagram. But, email is dead. Search is dead. Facebook is dead. (Pro tip: these all still have value to you). 

Now entering the social media platform arena: Threads. 

So, the questions on your team’s mind: Is now the right time to add Threads as a tactical element to our student recruiting strategy? How hard could it be? Is there any value here? Is our audience here? 


Opportunities to meet in person:

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • CIEE 76th Annual Conference in Paris, Nov 8-10, 2023 
  • PIE News Live in Boston, Nov 13-15, 2023 
  • AIRC Annual Conference – we’ll be offering our full day digital marketing workshop here in Phoenix, Dec 6-9, 2023 
  • ICEF North America Workshop in Miami, Dec 10-13, 2023 

Let us know if you’ll come share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com


The short answer to the Threads question: As of now, fall 2023, the Intead team leans toward the more measured wait-and-see approach. It’s early yet.  

There’s plenty of time to integrate this new platform should it fully take off. And there are more than a few social media users who really hope it does, especially in the midst of the chaos of Twitter, err, we mean X.  

What we know about Threads so far: 

  • It aims to take X head-on, and with the full weight of Meta behind it, we give it a fighting chance. 
  • More than 100 million users joined Threads within the first 5 days of its launch, making it the fastest-growing app in history. Proof that people were waiting for it. And further proof that Meta is a powerful force. 
  • Yet, some wonder if that was a false start. Its user base promptly plummeted by over 80% in less than a month post-launch. And this is something we can’t ignore. 

Still, we know some social media mavens on your team are debating if now is the right time to integrate Threads into your social media arsenal. Is this one of those first-mover advantage things? After all, effective lead generation and brand strategy require you to stay up-to-date and constantly try new approaches. We get it and encourage you to read on to better understand if Threads is something your student marketing strategy needs right now. 

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