Karlene Skretting, Contributor Ω
TRU World announced Dec. 17, 2012 that its Facebook page for international students reached 100,000 likes, making it the first educational institute in Canada to reach that mark.
“We have worked hard over the past year to develop our social media,” said Mike Henniger, TRU’s director of marketing for international students. “Our strategy is to inform and entertain. We post helpful information like add drop deadlines, but also fun pictures of the campus and community.
“It is extraordinary we have been able to gather such a large group on Facebook. This is more than just a number, though, it is great to see the engagement that is taking place on our Facebook page.”
Part of the page’s success can be attributed to the fact a large percentage of the content is student-led and a team of great ambassadors promotes TRU.
The page is easy to understand. It is written from a student’s point of view. Individuals learn how to apply to TRU, gain information about residence options and can find mentors who have already taken the program and classes they may be interested in.
Students have also used the page to find roommates and friends, purchase and sell used textbooks and to coordinate carpools to Vancouver for the weekend or to Sun Peaks for a day of skiing.
“This is really what social media is about: sharing information and experiences with your peers,” Henniger said.
“For many, Facebook is the first time they see TRU. The page provides immediate access to informed individuals.”
Current staff, students and residents of Kamloops make up the page’s fans. The majority of the 100,000 fans are students from overseas.
“We monitor the page daily, so we were aware of the fact we were approaching the mark and kept a close eye on it,” Henniger said.
Indonesia accounts for the most fans with 16,300. India represents another 16,000. Turkey (11,200), Colombia (11,600) and the Phillippines (10,700) round out the top five.
There are currently 1,644 international students enrolled at TRU according to Henniger.
“In order to gain followers we did advertising in countries like Indonesia and India where Facebook has a high adoption rate,” he said.
TRU World launched its social media campaign last November in India in conjunction with the opening of its office in Bangalore.
“The multimedia aspect was specifically planned and Premier Christy Clark launched the program,” Henniger said. “The big contributing factor to TRU’s success is the attention the page is given … The page is talked about weekly and in great detail. It is a persistent effort.
“The page is also a great way to show pride in Canada and the university. Many students post pictures of themselves and friends on campus, skiing and around the community for other followers to view who want a glimpse of what it is like to live and study in Canada.”
In comparison to other Canadian universities, the TRU World page greatly exceeds the followers of other institution pages.
“The closest Canadian university is the University of Toronto with 73,316 likes … the biggest difference is the fact that we made the page more of a priority,” Henninger said.
According to each respective Facebook page, McGill University has 28,526 likes, the University of British Columbia page has 26,296 likes and the University of Alberta has 16,958 likes.
“It is a huge accomplishment. Some of the U.S. universities have huge followings. It is a valuable tool for prospective and current students alike,” Henninger said.
That is the great thing about Facebook, it engages everyone, those looking to attend TRU, those enrolled, and alumni.
In the future TRU hopes to attract more followers and engage those who currently follow the page through contests.