The rise of WeChat – Combat the decreasing UK student population

Part 1 of 3 NEW blogs: International Student Recruitment series. 

With the UK 18–25-year-old population decreasing and increasing alternatives to university means the student audience in the UK is declining. Universities need to increasingly look outwards for their strategic growth.

It is common practice for universities to entice international students to study in the UK by promoting the culture, education standards, quality and the prosperity of the UK. The global reach of Google, Facebook and YouTube allows us to reach audiences across the world. However, there are some exceptions where alternative platforms are required.

When it comes to international student recruitment, the most difficult to manage is the Chinese market, which has been rather out of bounds, because of government restrictions. However, Chinese students are exceeding other nationalities to come and study in the UK with a 14% rise since 2012/13. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that many HE institutions have begun to target online marketing budgets towards Chinese social media channels.

Popular courses

With a variety of courses and different learnings, the top five degrees for international students are; Business & Administrative studies, Engineering & Technology, Social studies, Creative Arts & Design and Biological Sciences.

Connect. Consider. Convert

Crunch Simply Digital follows a simple and effective process to entice students through a thoroughly thought out and planned campaign with: Connect, Consider, Convert. In China, WeChat is the most popular social platform with almost 1.1 billion users which integrates nearly all social functions. A highly influential and popular peer-to-peer messaging platform which is used for friends, family and colleagues to communicate. To effectively engage the Chinese prospect students, innovative communication channels need to be explored and utilised by UK universities. Thus, a successful higher education marketing plan aimed at Chinese students should include a wisely created WeChat content plan.

Ad Formats

In WeChat, brands have the accessibility of having their own public accounts which reach the audience. With 2 forms of public accounts, a ‘Subscription’ would be the best for a brand, compared to ‘Service’, which restricts brands to only post 4 pieces a month, however, there can be 8 articles within a post which could be integrated with the API’s.
WeChat offer agencies the opportunity to advertise through two different ad formats:

  1. WeChat Banner Ads
  2. WeChat Moment Ads (In-stream ads)

With the Banner Ads, they target Mainland China only with the opportunity to have a video, text and image on the ad. These ads can help a brand grow their WeChat followers and to direct them to their website or a call to action of the campaign.

Moment Ads

Moment Ads will appear on a users’ moments timeline which is highlighted as an ad with the opportunity of posting text, images, videos along with pricing barriers. Through using a Moment ad on WeChat, it can grow through followers, users can direct others to the website, app or call to action. Along with Mainland China, these ads can target overseas travellers.
H5 Micro-sites are also available within WeChat and add a highly immersive brand experience. They allow brands to present the information in the style and manner which best represents them.

There are Weibo and QQ too

WeChat is the top platform in China for young people along with Weibo and QQ, through implementing a marketing plan which follows Crunch’s 3 C’s: Connect, Consider, Convert. The plan will have included research to determine if students are being sought from macro data or micro internal data.

User Numbers 

With 1,098 billion monthly and 902 million daily users, WeChat is certainly not to be ignored, and China is a country where UK institutions require a unique marketing strategy to entice the Chinese students. For more helpful tips on how to best use WeChat for recruitment purposes, or for help with other digital marketing activities, feel free to contact us.

Speak to us

Build an international campaign with us. Create a better international campaign, contact us, email sayhello@crunchsimplydigital.com. And stay watching for our next series of bitesize international student content.

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