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How Education New Zealand built an engaged community of fans on WeChat and Weibo

China represents a key market for Education New Zealand, thanks to the rich cultural exchange and connections for international students.


However, New Zealand is not the only country keen to entice Chinese students to study abroad, so Education New Zealand needed a way to engage directly with potential students and their parents.


Education New Zealand teamed with UMS to create a social media presence to communicate with students and their parents in China.


UMS created and implemented a social media strategy and created a content calendar for Education New Zealand, as well as adding local content and information from the China market.


Over the three and half years that UMS has worked with Education New Zealand, it has helped the brand build an engaged audience of potential students, parents and alumni, who are keen to follow ENZ news and information. As of Jan 2018, Education New Zealand had more than 19,588 WeChat fans and 34,715 Weibo followers.


Olivia Silverwood, International Social Engagement Manager at Education New Zealand says, “One of the cool things for us, is that [UMS CEO] Jessica was an international student in New Zealand so she really understands the experience and that has enabled UMS to really capture the experience.


“Quite a few members of the UMS team have been international students, so they have great insight into the customer service experiences and the perspective of what students want and respond to,” says Silverwood.


WeChat Welcome Survey

In a bid to provide ENZ with a better understanding and more insights into its fans and followers. UMS created the welcome survey to provide a mechanism to interact with ENZ fans and to gain insights into their behaviours, interests and demographics.


The survey would also provide information about the status of followers, which stage of study they are in, their desired level of education, and most importantly, the reason they follow ENZ.



The Welcome Survey appears as a pop-up dialogue box after a new user follows the ENZ account and invites fans to answer the questions. The information is then used to segment the fan and ensure that they receive content and communications that are targeted to their interests and demographic.


The survey launched in late October 2016 and ran until the end of March on WeChat. During this time, 3,053 new fans followed Education New Zealand, and 280 of these followers completed the survey.


Silverwood says, “The WeChat survey gave us huge insights into who our users are and what they want. It was so valuable we are now implementing the insights we learned on Facebook and Twitter.


Building awareness through Weibo & WeChat

ENZ’s main objective is to build awareness of the brand and the potential education opportunities in New Zealand with an end goal of driving enrolments.


Silverwood says the brand also aims to elevate people’s perceptions of New Zealand and promote the country’s innovation credentials.


“Tourism New Zealand has done an excellent job of promoting the country as a tourist destination that is clean and green, our aim is raise awareness of the innovation in New Zealand and to showcase the cities and urban environments,” says Silverwood.


To help get this message across to potential Chinese students, UMS created a global video campaign called, A Day in the life in New Zealand. The campaign included five videos which followed the experiences of five international students from different countries and their experiences studying in New Zealand.


The campaign sought to bring to life the New Zealand experience by showcasing the colour and cultural differences of the country. The videos were amplified across Weibo and WeChat and were supported by 13 KOLs, who also promoted the videos in a bid to spread awareness of the campaign and engage more viewers.


The campaign ran from November 2014 through January in 2015 across Weibo, WeChat and Youku attracting more than 15 million views and recruiting 4,000 new followers to ENZ.


The following year, ENZ wanted to build on this success and enlisted two Chinese students – Cherry and Daisy –  to tour New Zealand and share their experiences via WeChat and Weibo.


Cherry & Daisy’s travels in New Zealand saw the pair of students visit key destinations across NZ including University campus and locations. Cherry and Daisy posted regularly and about the experiences including informative and educational posts, as well as their personal feelings and responses.


The campaign sought to showcase the benefits of studying and living abroad to Chinese audiences. The technique of speaking directly to Chinese audiences was an effective method to engage new fans.



The campaign ran throughout the Summer of 2015 – from late July until mid-August across Weibo and WeChat.


Showcase NZ’s unique education experience

One of the central pillars of Education New Zealand’s strategy is to showcase the unique elements of studying in New Zealand, such as the country’s education system, its innovations and global connectivity.


“We aim to promote the kiwi approach to education, which is less about rote learning and more about doing. NZ students are encouraged to participate and join in and to think critically – and that has a massive appeal for Chinese parents.”


“We really try to draw on our strengths, such as New Zealand’s multi-culturalism, our creative industry which includes gaming, technology and of course Weta. We believe we have a strong story to tell,” says Silverwood.