Content isn’t just information and blogs – it’s everything about your school everywhere online

Key Takeaways:

The pandemic has shaken up the educational hierarchy, which makes delivering the right content to potential students and their parents incredibly important. Your school’s reputation depends on your digital identity, which is made up of your own conscious and unconscious  content choices and content posted about your school by others The right reputation attracts students but also helps schools attract teaching talent and donors with open wallets There are a number of tools you can use to enhance and protect your school’s reputation, and among them is social media, use of which has risen 44% since 2020 Prolific use of video, AI-powered chatbots, and a website that’s optimized for mobile devices are some other tactics to boost your school’s reputation

Institutions of higher learning are far more than just teaching and research hubs. They’re part of the fabric of their communities, a home-away-from-home for students, and have an important role to play on the global stage.

The global pandemic has shaken up everything education-related, and that includes the online reputations of institutions of higher learning. University websites are judged not only on their appearance but by their content. With the potential of a shaken up repetitional hierarchy in global higher education, delivering the right online content becomes increasingly important.

Your institution’s reputation depends on your digital identity, which represents your conscious and unconscious content choices plus content posted about your school by others. The nature of that content determines whether your reputation is

Why online reputation management is important

To state the obvious, you want your school to have a good reputation, but it is important to understand why it matters:Falling enrollment and retention: Prospective students and their parents consider a school’s reputation second in importance behind only the prospect of getting a good job after graduation. Your online reputation can increase admissions or send students fleeing to your competitors. One important consideration is being where the students are online – social media channels – and engaging with them there. The more they feel heard, the better opinion they will have of your school.  Faculty hiring: Every school wants the best when it comes to faculty, so creating a positive reputation is paramount to attracting star talent. These teaching superstars attract grants and endowments and can further enhance your reputation.  Fundraising: Keep the funds flowing with a positive online reputation. This makes it easy for your development office to build fruitful relationships with donors to fund projects ranging from grants to technology infrastructure to new buildings. 

Managing your online reputation also means mitigating risk. One post with a poor word choice or unpopular opinion can go viral and easily ruin your reputation. These events carry a high cost financially, as well. It’s important to realize that reputations don’t just happen – they take focus, work, and constant vigilance to be effective. So, what steps can you take to develop and maintain a high online reputation for your school? Here are some ideas.

Four things you can do to protect and enhance your school’s online reputation

The most important step you can take is to ensure that your school’s messaging is consistent and clear across all digital channels – everything from your website to all social media platforms, business listings on the web, and anywhere else your school is discussed. 

You also need a plan to counteract misinformation and minor reputation threats to keep your online image healthy. Reputational risks can come from many quarters. It’s important to get ahead of any issues promptly with a crisis management plan rooted in your school’s mission and values.

Risks aside, let’s delve into some important areas you need to pay attention to when it comes to managing your school’s online reputation.

1. Optimize your website for today’s users

Today’s students do everything via smartphone or tablet, including college research. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile with clear design and navigation, you’re not meeting them where they are – if they can’t find your content, you can’t deliver your message. 

Perform an end-to-end audit of the search terms used by students as well, so you understand how students find and get information about your school. A poorly designed website that isn’t optimized for both desktop and mobile can do your reputation considerable harm. 

2. Use chatbots that leverage AI

You might wonder what chatbots have to do with your reputation, but they tie in with point one about finding content. The pandemic saw a lot of phone interaction, but many of these queries can be handled easily and seamlessly through chatbots. They can answer common questions and direct users to the resources they want and need. 

3. Use a lot of video

Video is your opportunity to shut out the other noise about your university and direct focus to your message. Video captures more attention than text and even photos. The pandemic restricts on-campus tours, and video can help you fill that gap. 

In addition to campus tours, develop videos that contain welcome messages as well as those that show a day in the life of a typical student. Record speakers and invite comments to get data about how students, parents, and other stakeholders respond to them. Develop video for the most serious of students as well, highlighting departmental content that shows research and innovation.

4. Leverage social media

Global use of social media is up 44% since March 2020, further expanding your reachable audience on platforms that are a primary tool for online reputation management. Invest in social media marketing to both stay ahead of possible reputational issues and build your school’s reputation across the web. Put out a lot of content on every social channel, including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. Create memes. The goal is to drown out the competition with your relevant, engaging, and thought-provoking content. By elevating your school’s online visibility, you establish trust and highlight the things that match your mission and overall messaging. It’s about creating a positive buzz.

Remember, your reputation consists of what you say about yourself as well as what other people are saying. During the pandemic, some schools were faced with reputational crises due to reports of wild parties in flagrant disregard of lockdown restrictions or students talking about a lack of emotional support. It’s important to take and keep control of your online reputation by harnessing every tool at your disposal.

Manage your content to manage your reputation with KWALL

You can count on KWALL to support the development of your higher ed website, help you implement a CMS, and support you while you use it. We can also help you create a maintenance and support plan that works, so you can manage content through a content management system.

KWALL specializes in helping colleges and universities increase student engagement through the quality of their websites. Reach out and contact KWALL today to talk about how they can help you.


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