Recruitment and admissions

Why Swinburne University connects with students digitally via the metaverse

The metaverse - it's a phrase that recently exploded into our collective consciousnesses after Facebook's recent rebrand.

Hailed as the future of the internet, the metaverse consists of 'persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived universe'.

Typically, this is a space where people interact via a digital avatar. Within this virtual space, you can communicate, learn and have fun with others.

At the time of writing, the gaming industry is at the forefront of the metaverse. And it's young people who are the most enthusiastic about it.

For example, the world-building game Roblox has a huge, young audience. So much so that the latest figures suggest that:

  • 50 percent of UK 10-year-olds play Roblox
  • 75 percent of US children between 9 - 12 are also regular players

However, just because it is being pioneered in the world of gaming, doesn't mean you should ignore it when it comes to your school or university's marketing. Especially with such major engagement from young people. After all, years ago, who could have predicted that social media would have become as vital to marketing as it is now?

So, if you want to get ahead of the curve, you should start thinking about how the metaverse could enable your marketing now.

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jogvan Klein, Director of International Recruitment at Swinburne University of Technology. We discussed how they've embraced the metaverse with their digital open day platform 'Swintopia'.

Introducing Swintopia

Swintopia is 'a gamified, virtual campus that makes Swinburne University accessible to all prospective students, anytime and anywhere'.

Inspired by games like Animal Crossing, it gives students the full open day experience online. Thus, allowing them to experience all that Swinburne has to offer. Built in only 12 weeks, Swintopia has been invaluable as online learning became the new normal.

From its first iteration, Swintopia's popularity was evident. Not only is it attracting speed-run gamers, it lead to a 240 percent increase in Open Day registrations in 2020 compared to the prior year.

In addition to this, Swintopia:

  • Increased domestic online course applications by 70 percent
  • Reduced marketing campaign launch lead times from weeks to just days
  • Shortened the publishing cycle for Swinburne's news, PR, and more from two hours to real-time.

This is because Swintopia has risen above the metaverse hype and provides an engaging, authentic view of life at Swinburne.

Players can explore courses, clubs, state-of-the-art labs, and facilities digitally to see everything they have to offer. They can also attend hangouts to get to know each other - everything prospective students would get from an in-person open day event.

And this positivity is set to continue. Swinburne monitors in-game interactions and connects them with known customer data to provide personalized marketing messages that prospects are likely to care about.

'Open Days are really a rite of passage for the 200,000 Year 12 students that graduate in Australia each year. Swintopia was developed specifically to replicate the feel of the universities, much more so than just being a transactional presentation of information already available through the web. The development was fast-tracked due to COVID, but once we realized how well students were responding to it, we have been expanding and exploring new ways to use Swintopia. For our international recruitment, it has been a really unique way to engage with students that have limited opportunities to come and get a feel for the campus.'

Jogvan Klein, Director of International Recruitment at Swinburne University of Technology

Don't let the hype drown you out

There's a popular saying in communication theory, 'the medium is the message'. It means that how you deliver a message directly determines how people will perceive and receive it.

Through technology, we find new ways to connect. This is essentially what digital experiences like Swintopia enable. But, to be successful, the connection must be the focus.

Like Swintopia, you must get your message across and show prospects why they should attend your institution without letting the technology dilute your message. Otherwise, you've merely fallen victim to the hype.