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How ‘Summer Life QLD’ attracted a new generation of international students


How ‘Summer Life QLD’ attracted a new generation of international students


‘Summer Life QLD’ case study: here’s how Trade and Investment Queensland ran an outreach platform to attract international students to the state’s universities.

This article originally appeared in The Generation Issue, our June/July issue of Marketing magazine.

Campaign: ‘Summer Life QLD’

Client: Trade Investment Queensland

Agency: Totem Advisory and Studio


MK0617 cover generationAccording to the Department of Education and Training, around 700,000 international students from around 200 countries studied in Australia in 2016. Education is now the third largest Australian export, generating approximately $20 billion a year. And research figures suggest that these numbers will continue to rise.

This means that Australian universities are under new pressures to promote themselves to this global market of Millennials who are considering tertiary education abroad, and this highly desirable territory is becoming extremely competitive.

Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) enlisted the help of Australian creatives at Totem Advisory and Studio to create a multi-platform outreach program that set it apart from the competition, and ‘Summer Life QLD’ is doing exactly that. The campaign is a web series comprising 10 episodes, broadcast in eight different languages, which has reached millions of prospective international students.

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TIQ wanted to develop an end-to-end social and video solution that positioned Queensland as the number one destination for international students to spend a semester abroad.

The three key objectives focused on were:

  • build a strong and sustainable international education and training industry that facilitates global engagement, produces lifelong ambassadors for Queensland and becomes a key catalyst for growing Queensland’s knowledge economy,
  • harness Queensland’s comparative advantages to reposition Queensland as a leading destination for international education and training in the Asia-Pacific region – aspiring to contribute to Australia’s overall standing and 20% of the national market share by 2026, and
  • develop an end-to-end social and video solution that positions Queensland as the number one destination for international students to spend a semester abroad, while also increasing the number of enquiries and enrolments.

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The ‘Summer Life QLD’ campaign was about giving TIQ education providers a direct and unfiltered line of communication to a global market of Millennials who are considering studying abroad. We created a rich ecosystem of authentic experiences told by real life student ambassadors (both in English and their respective languages) for prospective international students.

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A social competition mechanic to find 20 ambassadors who would create content for the campaign attracted thousands of respondents eager to accept the challenge. The final 20 ambassadors, heralding from 10 different countries throughout the world, were put through an intensive crash course in social media and video creation by Totem as well as given their own vlogging camera. Totem and TIQ tasked each ambassador with the creation of a series of videos and images that would chronicle their experience as an international student studying in Queensland.

The result was more than 11,000 pieces of content promoting university life in Queensland on their personal social media channels. This content was then incorporated into the production of a web series, reaching millions of prospective international students.

Over 500,000 likes, comments and shares across the campaign were achieved and the ambassador content showcased an extraordinary level of authentic engagement around the world.

The campaign demonstrated that Australia’s education sector has a huge potential for further growth and intake from students abroad. But the success of the outreach is going to be determined by how well universities can make an authentic connection with potential students on the channels they’re using.

The time required to convert an enquiry into an international student can be anywhere from six months to four years. ‘Summer Life QLD’ has been a great success in terms of driving traffic to the TIQ website and exposing young people from around the world to the incredible lifestyle that Queensland offers its student population.

As for the students involved, ‘Summer Life QLD’ was an amazing way for the 20 ambassadors to experience Queensland. The ambassadors were intelligent and fun-loving people.

The goal was to use them to communicate with regional markets around the world, and to demonstrate what a semester abroad in Queensland actually looks like.

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The bonus results of increased traffic to Study QLD’s ‘Summer Life QLD’ page on its website exceeded TIQ’s expectations throughout the six-month long campaign.

Its social media traffic increased dramatically from 0.8% of overall traffic to 33.8%, and traffic to Study QLD’s enquiries page increased by 40% over the course of the campaign.

It’s a common thought in marketing that Millennials are difficult to reach, but by using data and insights to create video content the audience wanted to watch, and rolling it out using platforms with which they engage – YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram – we can refine our intelligence to create effective sales funnels with video every day.

‘Summer Life QLD’ content and the associated user generated content from the 20 ambassadors reached over 11 million prospective international students, had over four million views in the 10 targeted global markets, and generated more than 500,000 likes, comments and shares.

This massive amount of video engagement and views (across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram) far surpasses the top five ranked universities’ combined engagement over the past six months.

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