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Recruiting Intelligence

NAFSA Region XI: Slides Available + Useful Takeaways

Here’s a quick tease: has someone with a brilliant marketing mind approached you about using influencer marketing to promote your institution? Let us be perfectly clear: it’s a mistake for academic institutions to do this to their brand.

However, there are ways to steal the critical thunder from this growing advertising trend and make it work for academia. Intead conducted a pilot with Northeastern University and the results are here for you to chew on. Great food for thought.


We’re sharing the slides below, but honestly, slides only go so far. It’s the discussion. So yes, grab the download, but if you really want to learn from us and improve your student recruitment game, dive into our San Diego Workshop coming up in December.

Seats are disappearing quickly and we are limiting participation to ensure everyone has access to our amazing workshop faculty. Questions will be answered. Intense discussions will be had, with insight and data. If you’ve not taken a look at the program and the faculty, learn more here…seriously, take a minute and check this out. Opportunities to learn from these experts don’t come around often.


Today we shout out to our colleagues old and new at the recent 2022 NAFSA Region XI. This kind of regional connection and cross-colleague learning is invaluable. A common theme to our 3 presentations and our poster session this time around was how our information can help you explain the value of your work to the powers that be at your institution. What we can add to your justification for budget and other resources to achieve institutional goals.

Below you will find our 2022 NAFSA Region XI session slides showing off the expertise of our presentation partners, thought leaders all:

  • Kirsten Feddersen, Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Enrollment Management, Northeastern University
  • Kathleen Simenson, Director of Admissions, University of New Hampshire
  • Zongxiang Mei, International Education Coordinator, Central Connecticut State University
  • Sarah Lopolito, Assistant Dean for International Programs, Director of the International Center, Clark University
  • Iliana Joaquin, Digital Marketing Manager, Intead

Read on to build your case for how your institution can succeed in a competitive market.

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The Rise of Student Retention as Key to Recruitment

From your steeped-in-student-recruitment vantage point, you see quite clearly the symbiotic relationship retention has with your recruitment efforts and resulting yield. It has everything to do with your student services, student success, and all the small-batch interactions you do to ensure your students experience both.

As David Hautanen, Vice President for Enrollment Management at St. Mary’s College of Maryland said so well in a recent Recruiting Intelligence post: "Retention is both a moral and economic imperative." We wholeheartedly agree. And it is as true for students as it is for institutions. 

We can dive into all of this with you at #Nafsa2022 in Denver. Let us know if you’ll be there and want to share a cup of coffee.

As campuses across the globe emerge from their pandemic safety bubbles and return to recruitment as usual (more or less), now is a really good time to rethink your institution’s retention efforts—and the student-first mentality it requires.

The bottom line: it’s your team’s soft skills that matter most and their availability to use them. Read on for our take…

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Old Swag, New Swag: Do You Need An Update?

Making a statement through promotional swag in 2021 has a more profound impact than in years past. With student ambassadors taking a power position in marketing and influence, your institution’s brand sent out virtually and in real life (#IRL) can provide a unique statement that sets your university apart from the others. And if not apart from others, at least with them.

Tech-savvy students want something they can share online to brag their swag. It’s always been about expressing pride and being cool. The in crowd knows before anyone else. Except that the out crowd often defines what is going to be next. 

Confused? We get it. You’re not in the demo.

To help all of us in the “wrong” generation try (desperately) to get with it, the Intead team recently took a deeper look into student ambassadors and the potential for success. You can revisit those insights here. And while you are considering who your institution’s greatest ambassadors are, know that they are totally gonna wanna sport that beautiful half-zip hoodie with the phone pocket.

As you prepare for the Fall 2021 re-entry into the classrooms and virtual Zoom rooms, let’s take a look at what is topping the list of popular swag items for the university set. Read on. 

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Harnessing the Influence of Your Brand Ambassadors

Let’s start with a cool stat: Google searches for “Influencer marketing" grew 1500% in the last three years. In 2019, the term "Marketing influencer" was searched 70,000 times a month! This according to Savica Dimitrieska and Tanja Efremova in their article, “The Effectiveness of the Influencer Marketing” published through Southwest University in Bulgaria.

Think YouTubers and TikTokers – content creators who are generating significant followings and translating that work into cash as they promote various products.

The question is: can this concept work for academia?

Our answer: yes, IF you can achieve true authenticity. If not, no. Full stop.

Academic administrators around the globe may be leaving a gap in their marketing strategy: the power of an influencer, but in the case of education, we are really talking about brand ambassadors who have influence with your target audience. In our view, true influencer marketing, which is growing globally, is a risky bet for the education market. But the concept, if adapted, has merit.

What we are saying is, recognize that you are not marketing alcohol, luxury vacations, apparel, or cosmetics and adjust the concept of “influencer marketing” accordingly. If that is unclear, give us a call.

When it comes to advertising and building trust, gone are the days of faceless testimonials and promotional brochures promising the ultimate educational experience. Generation Z values the opinions of social media influencers and bases their decisions on whether people they can relate to on YouTube give it a thumbs up or down.

A note of caution: marketing today is lightning fast and fickle. Your campus can be in the limelight one second, and culture canceled the next. 

Read on for a few more relevant stats and perspective on how to make brand ambassador marketing part of your approach to student recruitment.

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