It’s a Small World After All: Marketing Your Apartment Community to International Students

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When approaching any marketing project, one of the most crucial considerations is always creating a picture of your target audience. For property managers and marketers trying to reach prospective residents of student apartments, a few common focal points might appear in marketing messaging and creative: Hip, young people, stylish and smiling, taking in the joys of a shared meal to connote a youthful apartment community brimming with college students who actively engage in community events. While this messaging may reach a number of students in your target audience, one persona that it could potentially fail to capture would be that of international students.

Studying abroad continues to be an increasingly popular rite of passage for many college students, and an incredible experience to enhance their cultural intelligence as much as their academic achievements. However, many marketers fail to effectively capture the imagination of an international student. Below, we go over three ways that owners and managers can better market their properties to international students.

Speak Their Language

Speak the language of the students you’re trying to reach.

While translating your site into every language possible might not be practical, it’s important to present a comfortable representation of your property for students who may be considering a nearby university. Contact local universities or visit websites, and get a picture of what their international applicant might look like. Many universities release comprehensive studies on their demographics on a fairly regular basis; while some may be more detailed than others, there are still interesting pieces of information to glean on public surveys and student demographics. Learn where the bulk of international students are coming from in your area, and be sure you invest resources to translate key pages of your student housing website into popular languages.

Having web content in a student’s native language is an incredible intuitive step in better marketing your property to potential students. Though it can feel a bit overwhelming, the connection and welcome it sends to potential residents is a huge way to build trust alongside cultural awareness. In addition, try evaluating your messaging to see if there are opportunities to target those from international destinations; consider incorporating holidays from other cultures into your social media calendar to remind international students that they’re still a visible and valuable part of your community.

Get the Conversation Going

In addition to including other cultures and international holidays on your social media messaging and marketing calendars, be sure to find ways to facilitate meetups between like-minded students or internationals. Many international students will be struggling with adjusting not only to a new school and new setting, but also a new country. To ease the burden of culture shock that so many international students may share, consider hosting meetups in your community designed specifically for international students. This way, people from all over the world can bond in the shared experience of attending a new university and living in a new country with new customs.

Identify common origins of international students, and work with them to see if they can help facilitate events or teach others about their customs or traditions. This will give residents the distinct privilege of learning more from international students, all while marketing your community as a safe, welcome place for prospective international students.

Don’t Just Get Social, Get Global

While a social media strategy for many in the States might not extend too far beyond Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, these networks aren’t necessarily so familiar to international audiences. It’s important for property managers and marketing directors to remember that not only will the messaging need to change to reach this important demographic, but the platform itself must also change.

In China, for example, where a majority of international students in the United States come from, many of the major Western social media sites are inaccessible. “What we know as domestic students; what we think of as social media are the traditional: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google…but internationally, many of these outlets are banned,” said Kim Cory, president of Kim Cory Consulting. Instead, look into different social networks, and try to ensure your community has a place in all of them. Own your brand across all accessible channels so that potential residents from around the world can easily find and shop your community.

What are some of the ways you market to international students? Let us know! For more information on marketing tips for the multifamily industry, contact us today!