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Recruiting Intelligence

Chinese Social Media ≠ US Social Media

U.S. academic institutions have started to embrace social media as part of their communication to attract new students, communicate with current students and reach out to alumni.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are staples of the marketing department mix of engagement tools. We've provided a link to our previous Intead Insight regarding the use of social media for enrollment marketing below. http://bit.ly/Ujsyy8

While the number of Chinese students studying in the US has grown significantly, universities are largely unaware of the vibrant social media environment in Chinese. In looking at the opportunity presented by the alternative platforms (Ren Ren, QQ, YouKu, Weibo, etc.) available in China, instituations need to navigate more than just differences in language and culture.

Chinese ISPs (internet service providers) block access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google. When Chinese students visit your website they are seeing a large hole where you have placed your facebook posts, twitter feed, YouTube video and Google Maps directions. Many Chinese students find ways to work around the restricted access. Nevertheless, the more dominant and easily accessed social media tools are those that are registered and approved in China.

The chart (above) shows a selection of major Chinese social media sites with different age and geographic focus. See a more detailed Intead overview here. Ren Ren, a Facebook like platform, reaches 137 million users and Qzone’s which hosts QQ, a twitter-like platform, boasts more than 500 million active users. In total, more than 3X the entire U.S. population, 900 million Chinese citizens, use social media and the vast majority do so from a mobile device.

Intead offers a digital audit to help institutions gain a baseline understanding of their web and social presence (their international brand) in China and other countries. Based on an evaluation of your website from in-country ISPs you can make decisions about how to improve international students' digital view of your school. You can monitor and promote your international brand. And we offer a special discount for Intead Insight subscribers.

In guiding enrollment marketing and admissions staff we often offer the following advice to overcome the challenges of working with Chinese social media:

  • Like any marketing activity in another language, understanding cultural nuances is important.
  • Like all social media activity, it is important to engage your target audience with meaningful interaction - this takes an investment of time. Boring, mundane posts do not further your brand position.
  • Technological access to various tools can be coordinated from locations outside China; however, in-country support can make things far more efficient.
  • Programming special work arounds into your current website's social media feeds can offer Chinese visitors access your content from YouTube and other U.S.-based social media platforms. See our instructions, if you would like us to share these workarounds with your web team.
Topics: Insights