The challenge

Did you know that the 438,000 international students who come to the UK to study every year deliver £20bn to the UK economy and £4.6bn to London alone?

That’s why British Council’s Study UK arm is on a mission to promote the UK as a great study destination for students around the world. But the political and socio-economic backdrop has shifted in recent years. Thanks to Brexit, spiralling costs of living, and stiff competition from universities in the US, Australia and Canada, the UK isn’t perceived to be the study destination it once was.

The objective was clear: to increase interest in the UK as a study destination by driving visitors from Study UK’s social channels to the Study UK website, where prospective students can find practical advice, insight and inspiration.

The solution

Social media channels are possibly the most cost-effective and efficient way to reach millions of future UK students worldwide. We analysed the demographics for each BC social media channel to differentiate the type content we were going to post: from a majority of B2B content for Twitter/LinkedIn to a younger and fresher look&feel for the Gen Z on Instagram.

Our social media strategy speaks to prospective students at various stages in the decision-making journey and addresses key questions they have around moving to a UK university. We also identified different content pillars to help us covering the range of information we wanted to deliver.

Then we created a calendar to schedule our campaigns (SproutSocial), coordinate the Universities takeovers, promote events, online courses (MOOCs) and Facebook Lives and make sure to diversify the contents, following the content pillars. To keep improving we’ve also monitored the #StudyUK hashtag, the HEI sector channels and created reports on content performances.

The results

Since August 2018 we’ve driven significant traffic to the Study UK website and have grown their social following across all channels. The latter is incredibly important in terms of raising awareness of the UK as a great place to study and debunking any Brexit-related concerns that students might have.

  • 16,904 clicks to the Study UK website
  • 27,498 new followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • 204% increase in followers on Instagram
  • 1650% increase in engagements across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As well as supplying weekly and monthly measurement reports – and campaign reports for any campaign-related activity (paid or organic) – we also offered detailed analysis and recommendations on content performance. An iterative approach is crucial – we discovered early on, for example, that posts on scholarships, budgeting and visas perform exceptionally well – and decided to post consistently on such topics every month.