International students’ engagement in their university’s social media: an exploratory study

Momoko Fujita, Paul Harrigan, Geoffrey Norman Soutar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the lived experiences of the international students using their university’s social media, through a lens of customer engagement (CE) in the services marketing literature. Design/methodology/approach: A case study was conducted in an Australian university. Three semi-structured focus groups with ten international students, along with a preliminary netnographic analysis of the university’s social media account, provided a rich description of the phenomenon in the real-world context. Findings: The results suggest that these students are likely to engage in their university’s social media as part of their acculturation and social identity construction strategy. Their engagement was cognitive and emotional, being influenced by the instrumental value of the social media page, engagement with campus rituals and artefacts, social identity and bonds with other students and perceptions of the page administrator. Furthermore, these students’ engagement influenced their identification with the university and its student community, manifested in a sense of belonging and pride. Research limitations/implications: The paper contributes to the higher education literature by offering relationship implications of social media CE. Limitations include small sample size and the single institutional context. Practical implications: The paper informs student communication practice, especially the design of university-initiated social media content and policy. Originality/value: Universities and faculties today use social media to engage with students outside classrooms. However, little has been known about how international student sojourners view and respond to such initiatives. The paper addresses this gap by offering insight into how they engage with their university on social media and its relationship implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1134
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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