Study Melbourne turned to Facebook to engage students around the world. The result was a rapidly growing global community that has exceeded all expectations.
Imagine for a second that you’re 18 years old and thinking about studying overseas. You have information about courses and degrees in various countries but you want to know more about what it will be like to live in another country.
You’re looking for an authentic and trustworthy voice and one where students like you are part of the conversation.
Creating a voice loud enough to be heard around the world was the priority for the Victorian Government through its flagship international education brand Study Melbourne.
International education is Victoria’s largest export service. Every year Melbourne and Victoria attracts more than 140,000 international student enrolments from around the world. International education generates around $4.49 billion in revenue every year and has created over 30,000 jobs.
Expressing the brand’s personality was important to building an immediate and personalised connection to Study Melbourne, both for prospective students and those already studying here.
Acting on the ‘go where the kids already are’ principle, Porter Novelli Melbourne worked with the Victorian Government’s Department of State Development, Business and Innovation to create a Study Melbourne social media presence.
Creating a dedicated Study Melbourne Facebook page was the first goal of an overall social media strategy to increase positive comments about studying in Victoria within the target markets. The goal was to build a minimum 10,000 Facebook likes within 12 months, with an average 20 per cent engagement on each post.
Targets were set against similar pages representing other Australian states’ international education pages.
To be successful and to keep growing, the page needed to be a platform to:
- Establish and grow user generated content
- Work with Victoria’s education institutions, keep a vibrant presence and share resources
- Create connections, share stories and insights and highlight Melbourne and regional Victoria’s education and lifestyle advantages.
Content was mapped out according to the pillars of the Student Lifecycle: Considering, Applying, Moving, Arriving, Living, Advocating. Major subject areas included student stories, information (how-to guides, important services), education (courses, institution spotlights) and lifestyle (what's on in Melbourne, activities).
Building a community
The focus for growing the Study Melbourne Facebook page was to provide high value content and make people aware of the page through targeted Facebook advertising.
Between one and three posts were published every day, seven days a week. Posts were initially scheduled in the morning – until analytics showed that the target audience (largely 18 – 24 years old) was not online in the morning hours.
After the first week of being live the strategy became posting to the back half of the day, and achieved a significant jump in audience reach.
Weekend space on the page became prime real estate, being the time when students are on Facebook the most, and Sundays at 7pm the peak time for maximising reach and engagement with posts. Boosting posts with small advertising amounts helped expand its reach by thousands.
Creative visuals is the key to Facebook and posts have a strong emphasis on imagery. The strategy was a natural fit for another Study Melbourne activity, a photography competition where winning entries would be displayed in the Study Melbourne Student Centre in Little Bourke St, Melbourne. International students living in Victoria were invited to submit a photo that captured their impressions of living here.
The competition was promoted through Facebook, with the finalists of each category displayed in an album to let the community decide the winners Thousands of votes were cast through ‘likes’ for their favourites.
From zero to hero!
The Study Melbourne Facebook page was launched in March 2014. Within one hundred days the milestone of 100,000 ‘likes’ was smashed! The Study Melbourne Facebook community grew to a size that would fill all the seats in the MCG.
The page has regular enquiries about the range of courses and eligibility requirements, the scholarship options available to international students and changes in individual education and training institutions.
Through a strategy of high quality and diverse content, great visuals, and an independent voice the Facebook page has become the community forum it was intended to be. The brand’s social media presence has now been extended through a blog, Twitter, WeChat, Instagram and Google+, all connected and all helping build Victoria’s international student community.
At the time of writing, the Study Melbourne Facebook page has 145,161 likes.