Advice, Content Management

How To Boost Your School’s Online Reputation

A school’s online reputation is just as important as its physical presence. Prospective students and parents often turn to the internet to learn about schools, making it crucial for educational institutions to manage their online image effectively. 

The recent global pandemic has turned everything related to education on its head, including how universities are perceived online. When people visit a university’s website, they’re not just looking at the design – they’re also judging the content. With these changes in the global higher education reputation landscape, the importance of delivering the right online content has never been greater.

The reputation of your institution relies heavily on its digital footprint, which is shaped by the content you actively choose to share and what others post about your school. The type of content out there determines whether your reputation gets a boost or takes a hit. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of digital reputation and discuss how selecting the right content can strengthen your online presence, both during these challenging times and in the future.

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

What Makes Online Reputation Management Important? Does Reputation Matter?

Let’s be clear: everyone wants their school to have a stellar reputation. But it’s crucial to grasp why it truly 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 – like 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 and 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 institution? Here are some ideas.

Important steps you can do to protect and enhance your institution’s online reputation

The most important step you can take is to ensure that your 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 online reputation.

1. Website optimization

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 finding content that is related to you. 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 videos

Video is your opportunity to shut out all the other noise about your university and directly focus on your message. Video captures more attention than text and even photos. The pandemic restricts on-campus tours, and videos 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 encourage comments to get data about how students, parents, and other stakeholders respond to them. Develop videos 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 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 all 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 crisis 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 that works for your staff, 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.