Social media engagement and Chinese international student recruitment: understanding how UK HEIs use Weibo and WeChat
journal contributionposted on 03.08.2020, 09:45 by Yimei Zhu
Using a novel longitudinal methodological design, this is the first study to investigate how and to what extent UK higher education institutions (HEIs) use Chinese social media platforms to engage with users. The data was gathered from examining 163 UK HEIs’ use of Weibo public accounts in 2012 and 2018 and WeChat in 2018, combined with student data and university ranking data from secondary sources. The analysis demonstrates a positive association between HEIs’ social media engagement and increase in Chinese student numbers studying at those institutions, after taking into account of university reputation. This study identifies effective social media strategies to gain popularity with Chinese users. Interaction and public replies to followers may generate trust and electronic word-of-mouth to attract more users to follow HEIs’ social media accounts. The findings contribute to the knowledge in the field of higher education research in relation to cross-cultural communication and social media marketing.