The survey, conducted by strategy and research firm International Education Advantage (Intead), monitored how universities responded when contacted via Facebook and Twitter using a profile appearing as a 22 year old Indian resident interested in studying abroad.
“For most institutions, not responding to a student query will quickly disqualify you from a student’s consideration set”
Of the 80 institutions surveyed – 50 in the US, 15 in Canada, 10 in Australia and five in New Zealand – a surprising 29% of the institutions surveyed did not respond on either platform.
The study, as in previous years, showed universities in Australia and New Zealand to be “generally more capable than the average US university” when marketing to international students, Intead’s CEO, Michael Waxman-Lenz, told The PIE News.
Australasian universities took an average of 2.04 hours to respond to enquiries, compared with 4.58 hours for Canadian and 22.15 hours for US institutions.
Despite faring well in Intead’s two previous surveys, a third of Canadian universities failed to respond to either message.
Overall institutions responded more quickly to enquiries made via Twitter than Facebook – in 4.22 hours, compared with 11.18 hours – suggesting a tendency to monitor Twitter more closely.
Intead COO Waxman noted a “clear lack of understanding” of how to use Facebook effectively, with many universities treating their pages as “a one-way communication channel”.
“Money and energy are being wasted,” he said.
Universities that impressed in the survey responded not only quickly but engagingly.
Massey University in New Zealand, for example, shared a link to its international student site with a compelling image. On Twitter it accompanied the link with a smiley face, followed “Aahana Bahl” and asked her area of interest within 5 minutes.
Australia’s University of Melbourne, Canada’s University of Winnipeg and Simon Fraser University, and Case Western Reserve University, University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign and Fontbonne University in the US were all described as “exemplary”.
“For most institutions, not responding to a student query will quickly disqualify you from a student’s consideration set,” commented Waxman-Lenz. “When making the investment in social media as a marketing channel, a minimal effort simply won’t help you win against your competitors. Staff it or don’t waste your time.”