UTS:INSEARCH, the pathway provider for University of Technology Sydney, was already a long-term traditional PR client when we were appointed to handle their Weibo and WeChat accounts in September 2015. Engagement was low, the planning process was in need of streamlining and needing to evolve to navigate China’s highly variable social media landscape.
Balancing engaging and authoritative.
The first step was an insights audit of their own and competitor social media accounts. Through this process we unearthed two key findings. From a content perspective they were talking about koalas, live music, and Sydney, but what their audience really NEEDED was practical, useful information that would help them decide where to study. Secondly, we realised the content only needed to resonate with students at a particular time: right before they decide to study abroad.
Based on these insights, we reversed the existing strategy and concentrated on deep practical content with the core objective and messages designed to help students decide where to study. Additionally, based on the media consumption habits of their target audience, we prioritised WeChat as a primary pillar, and converted their subscription account into a service account, with amplification through aggregators.
THE CONTENT STRATEGY
To appeal both to high schoolers as well as agents who help with overseas applications, the content needed to be balanced between engaging and authoritative, with a clear call to action.
With a focus of about 75% practical content to 25% lifestyle content, we ensured that even the more lifestyle orientated posts provided useful and relevant information; how to open a bank account in Australia and fun Australian slang.
To encourage shareability and relevancy among UTS:INSEARCH’s high school audience, the writing style was in a peer to peer tone referencing popular internet themes through embedded GIFs and videos.
Engaging extroverted social media whizzes.
Not only tone and style was important but authenticity and credibility. The target audience is young, savvy and smart when it comes to determining what is real or not. Maximising existing materials full of great anecdotes, personal quotes and fun pictures, we leveraged UTS:INSEARCH’s Hey China! Programme. This programme is unique among overseas universities in China, a highly select group of extroverted Chinese social media whizzes interact directly with potential students on Weibo.
This content was repurposed for WeChat and forwarded onto our owned Weibo. In our posts you can find them recommending their favourite restaurant around the university campus, or talking about that cool project they’re working on in a design class.
THE AGGREGATOR STRATEGY
Based on our research and discussions with UTS:INSEARCH’s recruitment team, we realised that students set on studying in the US or the UK do not readily change their minds about which country they want to study in. Armed with this insight, we worked to convert those interested in studying in Australia into UTS:INSEARCH fans by targeting four diverse groups of aggregators.
Diversity in numbers.
Targeting high school students who are suffering through the Gaokao or already looking to study abroad, though an obvious target, the wide geographic spread and high engagement numbers make them very effective.
LANGUAGE LEARNING AGGREGATORS
UTS:INSEARCH’s English programme is a particular strength and this is a core concern for students contemplating study abroad in Australia. Language learning aggregators predominantly target high schoolers.
As science and technology are core strengths at UTS, we disseminate the exciting news that comes out of UTS’s labs through science and technology aggregators to build the brand among China’s technology community.
RETURNEE AND LOCAL AGGREGATORS
Through local and returnee aggregators, we drive awareness around local events and raise UTS’s profile among core recruitment markets.
It’s all in the numbers.
HIGHLY QUALIFIED NEW WECHAT FOLLOWERS IN 6 MONTHS
INCREASE IN WECHAT FOLLOWERS
AVERAGE WECHAT VIEWS PER MONTH
WECHAT VIEWS IN FEBRUARY 2016
BY WHICH WE EXCEEDED AVERAGE POST INTERACTION KPI (WECHAT)
BY WHICH WE EXCEEDED AVERAGE PAGE VIEW KPI (WECHAT)