All of this, of course, is my opinion but it is based on over five years experience in the field of international education which includes starting my own office from scratch, working in a one-person office, as well as developing and implementing faculty-led programs among many other duties.
I have found social media to be a perfect fit for international education. Here is why.
It allows people who are being asked to do more with less to be able to continue to do more. For example, instead of having to read three or four newspapers every day or go to four or five different websites I receive the news instantly via my Twitter account or through Facebook. For instance, when the State Dept. posts a travel warning it hits Twitter first before it hits my email. This also allows me and others who I have talked to about this to actually more effectively and efficiently do our jobs because it saves time and we actually get the news much quicker and can respond, if need be, much faster.
In addition, I am also able to monitor much more closer what is being said about my programs as well as my office. Instead of waiting for a complaint to come in via someone calling or coming in in-person (which they still do), I can monitor the internet using key terms as well as various social media sites to see what students are saying about our programs and can address any issues (positive or negative) much faster. (People actually do say some really great positive things about what people are doing within international education that most won't know about unless they were on social media.)
Finally, I love using social media to promote our programs. I post photos, repost student blog entries, post news articles and much more. This not only allows me to let other students know about the great things we are doing but also lets faculty, other universities, our providers, as well as the general public know the great things our students are doing to make themselves citizens of the world.
Social media really does have reach. I have actually been contacted by the press after posting information about a program. So what you post really does matter.
These are only some of the reasons that international education and social media are a great fit. I encourage others within the international education field who are using social media to add further to my list by commenting to this post.
Thanks and more soon!
P.S. You can also find out about a lot of great free or low cost resources, workshops, and webinars by being on Twitter and Facebook. With these economic times that is a major plus.