By Michelle Coull

More than 1.8 billion users are accustomed to putting up daily posts on Facebook – and now a university is planning to add post writing for this particular social platform to its English curriculum.

While many may scoff that a political rant or a gushing tribute to a loved one is hardly literature, Delhi University begs to differ.

Such is the recognised power of this king of social media, that Indian society is wise to the fact a well-written post can catapult an aspiring writer or artist to fame, helping them reach a wider audience or even find a publisher.

It is rare in this day and age to find someone without a Facebook account – as rare as coming across a household in the pre-internet days without a television.

Facebook is as much a part of interacting with the world as the box in your front room. In fact, even more so, since a growing number of people now get their news, views and entertainment from social media.

And while businesses have long since tapped into this Facebook community, universities can also benefit from its reach – since it is largely a younger audience who have grown up seeing social media as the norm, and the global popularity of this platform means international students are just a tap of the keyboard away.

Social media is not just a way to interact with existing student communities, updating them on courses and events.

It would be a waste not to utilise this platform for recruitment – allowing prospective students to find out more without taking several trips to the campus.

According to the latest figures gathered by comScore, Facebook is still king of social media when it comes to reaching UK Millennials.

It’s multi-platform reach in July 2016 among this generation was a staggering 90.2% - more than 30% higher than second-placed Instagram.

Millennials love mobile devices as networking tools. Mobile reach for social media sites for this demographic was 99.3%, compared to a desktop reach of 91.4%.

And the star of mobile is once again Facebook with a reach of 97.9%.

In countries like India, where Facebook is so revered, it would be a shame to waste opportunities to attract students as international undergraduates.

After all, the prestigious Delhi University, which boasts India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, and Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi among its alumni is now looking at adding Facebook post writing to its English curriculum, as part of a non-academic module to teach vocational skills. Students could also be taught how to write an engaging blog or cover-letter.

The draft English syllabus containing the proposal is currently being reviewed by DU professors. So is the art of going viral really a core skill for literature students?

A senior DU official told the Press Trust of India: "Writing does not necessarily mean heavyweight non-fiction books or highly-dramatised fiction.

"It also includes writing generic but important content properly, such as that for blog posts, cover letters - or, for that matter, Facebook posts."

DU is not the first university to recognise the academic value of Facebook.

The UK’s University of Salford was offering a master's degree in social media as far back as 2009 - designed to produce the next generation of strategic thinkers and PR professionals.

And despite a flurry of competition for the younger market – from the likes of Instagram and Snapchat - Facebook has stood its ground in the last decade, and is still top of the social tree.

In the same way an employer may advertise in a trade magazine to reach a pool of talent in a particular work sector, so universities must see Facebook as the go-to reading material for the Millennials – and an effective way of reaching them all over the world.

For international student recruitment, Facebook is an invaluable tool.

Facebook advertising has plenty of options depending on who you want to target. There are different forms of Facebook ads which could be useful. They can be distinguished as sponsored stories, page post ads and promoted posts.

Using paid advertising features such as Canvas or Carousel, and creating custom audiences, higher education institutions can speak to potential students – with no limit on how many time zones or borders they cross.

Facebook also has many advanced features for creating ads to target a specific audience in specific ways. For example, to advertise a certain degree course you can target individuals based on those who show an interest in that subject.

You can also target the ad based on location, gender, education, connections and age.

To reach international students you can select locations outside of the UK. Connections allow you to target individuals connected to pages or groups which demonstrate their interests.  The more targeted you make the ad, the better the results.

Keep in mind that promoted posts cannot be interest or category-targeted.

A benefit to Facebook advertising is it allows the creation of multiple ads within the same campaign, to try out different formats. You can then monitor how well each ad has performed.

There’s no getting away from it. Facebook is a vital part of any international student recruitment strategy.


For expert help maximising your social media to reach a specific audience, call us now on 0800 612 9890.