The GoAbroad Team is pleased to feature the 2012 GoAbroad Innovation Awards finalists in the category of Social Media. We received many wonderful nominations and the selection committee has chosen five finalists, listed here in alphabetical order. Throughout this week and next, GoAbroad will highlight the finalists in each of the GoAbroad Innovation Award categories!
Academic Programs International (API)
“Social Media Platforms & Engagement”
Academic Programs International (API) has long been recognized as the social media leader in study abroad and international education – and was honored as such with the 2011 GoAbroad.com Innovation in Social Media Award. API is arguably the most active and effective organization in utilizing social media to maintain an open, honest, and transparent dialogue with its students, parents, advisors, and alumni.
API staff have presented at several regional and national NAFSA conferences on effective social media use in study abroad, and are regularly referenced as thought leaders on the topic. API has developed a very fruitful student blogger program, reaching out to participants across a diverse spectrum of home universities and international destinations to chronicle their experiences on WordPress and Tumblr blogs As new opportunities to communicate with its audiences arise, API will be among the first and strongest voices to occupy these diverse channels.
“Unique Use of Localized Social Media Outlets”
Over the past year, CRCC Asia has creatively utilized a global range of social media platforms – from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to the popular Chinese sites Weibo and Youku – to spread the word about its China internship and study programs, engage with current and prospective program participants, and build up its online presence and following in significant ways.
In 2011, CRCC Asia held a Summer Video Contest for the hundreds of interns that took part in their summer programs. The contest was advertised through social media sites and created a buzz on Facebook and Twitter, drawing a large number of innovative video entries from program interns in Beijing and Shanghai. In addition, CRCC Asia has seized on the enormous popularity of Weibo and Youku – the Chinese versions of Twitter and YouTube, respectively – and regularly shares videos and company updates with China’s 500 million Internet users.
International Studies Abroad (ISA)
Introduced in early 2011 by International Studies Abroad (ISA), the ISA Worldwide Alerts were implemented as a tool for disseminating time-sensitive emergency information through ISA’s social networks for current ISA students, their families and their friends. The content of the alerts–designated by #ISAworldwidealert on social networks–provides details on emergency situations in specific program locations, including confirmation that all ISA students at relevant sites abroad are safe and accounted for in the event of an emergency.
The alerts harness the strengths of social media to provide up to the minute news on emergency situations–natural disasters, evacuations, political turmoil–affecting ISA programs, students and staff abroad.The alerts have successfully been used to notify students and parents about the massive volcanic eruption in Iceland, the uprisings in the Middle East and the recent student protests in Chile. Previous alerts can be viewed here: http://studiesabroad.com/worldwide-alerts
“It’s Good to Go Sweepstakes”
Rustic Pathways developed the “It’s Good to Go” Sweepstakes” to connect students directly on the Facebook platform. In direct interactions with students around the country while visiting schools in over two dozen states, Rustic Pathways handed out tens of thousands of boarding passes to promote the sweepstakes.
Within the contest, Rustic Pathways is giving away 4 free trips including airfare, with sweepstakes drawings in February, March, April, and May. Students who enter the sweepstakes pick the program they would join if they won, from a pool of 10 trips that were specifically selected to showcase 10 of Rustic Pathway’s most popular countries and show the diversity of the programs offered. And to make the project come full circle, after each winner is drawn, Rustic Pathways makes surprise visits to their home town, notifies each recipient at their school or home, and makes a video of the student finding out that they won.
University of California, Davis
“Aggies Abroad Network”
The Aggies Abroad Network aims to bring a new form of value and engagement to those students at UC Davis hoping to one day study abroad, to those students currently abroad, and to all study abroad alumni. The Aggies Abroad Network is a social media and creativity hub, where over 700 members of the UC Davis study abroad community have signed up and are actively sharing blogs, photos, videos, and more. The Aggies Abroad Network is fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and Google—sign-in/up, status updates, activity feed aggregation—and is serving as a space students are coming to for a daily dose of study abroad social media news, information, advice, stories, and more.
On a campus level, departments and central administrative units are using the content generated on the Aggies Abroad Network to help bolster their internationalization efforts. The Aggies Abroad Network is the driving force behind the innovative content strategies and engagement efforts on campus.
Congratulations to the finalists! The winner of this category will be announced at the GoAbroad invitation-only reception during the upcoming NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference and will be posted to the GoAbroad blog and the GoAbroad Innovation Awards page. Other category finalists are also being announced this week. Stay tuned for more updates!