The Power of Influence

When Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington wanted to reach new audiences to sell his watches, he didn’t go down the age-old marketing road and purchase ads in Vogue Magazine.

Rather, he thought about where his target audience spent their time — Instagram — and how he could meet them there. (Side note, did you know that over 50% of 19–29 year olds say they check Instagram at least once a day?!).

social media and study abroad

He then reached out to social media influencers, a loose term that essentially means someone on social media who has a substantial following and brand, and asked if they’d partner with him. The influencers used their medium (illustration, photography, video) to showcase his watch and include a discount in the description. The result of this savvy approach? He more than doubled his Instagram following and saw a 214% increase in sales in one year.

Read on to learn how to work with your study abroad champions and social media influencers to reach #EveryStudent on campus or in your online community.

A post on Instagram by a social media influencer, in partnership with Daniel Wellington

A post on Instagram by a social media influencer, in partnership with Daniel Wellington


The power of peer influence and study abroad

What exactly does this have to do with study abroad? Throughout our mini-series, Ethical Sales and Marketing in Study Abroad, we have been exploring tips and tricks from the business world that education abroad professionals can use to grow participation. Social media influencers marketing is one such area.

Many of our colleagues in the field already have social media accounts and are doing a superb job of meeting students where they are at through using Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook et al. And it’s a lot of work! As a company keen to communicate through social media, we get it — keeping the content fresh, interesting and relevant is a job in and of itself. The point is not for everyone in the study abroad office to become prolific on social media, but rather, to spark some ideas on ways you may be able to tap into influencers when it comes to sharing what your office or organization offers to travelers.

Study abroad champions

Can you think of a study abroad champion on your campus? The student who is effusive about the positive experience they had abroad and consistently referring friends to your office?

Here’s a quick idea to engage your study abroad champions:

What if, leading up to your next study abroad fair, or scholarship deadline, you reached out to 5 students and asked them to do something simple: post an image of their study abroad experience on the social media channel of their choice, and in the caption, provide a link to sign up for the fair or apply for the scholarship. Maybe offer gift cards to the coffee shop on campus as a thank-you.

Social media influencers

In addition to the study abroad champions, your campus or community also has social media influencers, (students, departments, or even mascots on campus who are particularly active on social media). What could it look like on your campus to figure out who the influencers are?


Maybe recruit a couple of your study abroad ambassadors to help you find the digital conversations taking place. Is there a popular hashtag that’s used for events? Do a quick search on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter and see who uses hashtags associated with your campus or study abroad locations.

If you find a relevant hashtag, you can use tools like Keyhole, plug in a hashtag and investigate further. Pro-tip: after searching for a hashtag, choose Klout (screenshot below) to see top influencers for the topic.

Okay — so you’ve figure out a few influencers. What next? Engage and reach out! Share relevant content from top influencers with your audience. Reach out to them by sending a direct message. It’s best to have a clear ask when reaching out. Do you have an upcoming event? Perhaps invite them and ask them to live stream it. Or, are you running a social media campaign with your own hashtag — ask them to participate!

Some examples from the field

Need some inspiration?

Check out our friends over at Study in New Zealand’s Instagram. They collaborate with their Kiwi Ambassadors via the hashtag #StudyinNZ to curate a beautiful, consistent, flow of images that depict a study abroad experience in NZ.

Instagram image shared on the Education New Zealand account, Study in New Zealand


GoOverseas collaborated with Education in Ireland and Aer Lingus to promote scholarship offerings for undergraduate and masters students, using their own hashtag #GoStudyIreland and having all applicants submit Ireland-themed photos along with their applications.

Image posted on Facebook by GoOverseas from their #GoStudyIreland scholarship contest


The University of Cincinnati had students sign up to take-over their Snapchat while abroad, and had students participate (and create awesome video content) from Croatia to Ghana.

Do you know of others in the field doing interesting work with social media and study abroad? If so, we’d love to hear about them! You can comment here — or reach out to us at

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