Friday, April 11th—University of Central Arkansas International Communication Manager, J.S. Stansel presented on the topic of “Using Social Media to Connect with International Students” at the NAFSA state conference in Bentonville, Arkansas. NAFSA is the leading professional association dedicated to international education.
Speaking to international educators and administrators from around the state, Mr. Stansel highlighted the effectiveness of using Social Media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage with international students and better inform international students of issues that are of importance to them. UCA International Engagement’s Facebook page currently has almost 1,200 followers.
In his presentation, Mr. Stansel displayed techniques UCA International Engagement uses to maximize their Social Media’s effectiveness including videos, infographics, and contests. “The goal of Social Media is engagement, it is not a broadcast medium,” stated Stansel. He continued to illustrate how UCA International Engagement uses each of their Social Media outlets differently. “We have different audiences on Facebook and Twitter and post to these accounts accordingly.”
Mr. Stansel also emphasized the importance of having a Social Media communication plan in place before starting any Social Media outreach effort. “When you post to your department’s Social Media accounts, you don’t just speak for your program, you speak for your university,” said Mr. Stansel. “You need work with your university’s web development to create a Social Media plan that reflects the goals of your institution.”
According to Mr. Stansel, Social Media is of particular importance to international education. “Studies have shown that Social Media helps reduce homesickness in international students and I feel that at UCA we have developed a good community for our international students with Social Media,” Mr. Stansel stated. “It is our responsibility as educators to teach our students to use Social Media responsibly. In our Social Media efforts we strive to lead by example to help our students become good digital citizens.”