You’re living in the Stone Age if you don’t understand that your students are going online to check you out. More than 80 percent of consumers conduct research online before making a big purchase. And education is a BIG purchase. If you don’t have a 2016 plan in place already to fiercely guard your reputation, it’s time to get onboard. Use this How-To Guide for Reputation Management to start right now:
- Dedicate time and budget to your school’s reputation management. Your good reputation is priceless! But if you were to put an actual price tag on it, consider that a study by World Economics found that 25 percent of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation. With the potential for a significant impact on your bottom line, why wouldn’t you invest in such a precious asset?
- Claim your name. Are you one of those schools with dozens of social media platforms, administered by a variety of campuses, clubs and departments? Make this the year you take control over your entire digital footprint. Claim your school’s name across all social media channels and monitor what’s being said and who’s saying it. Have strict rules and guidelines on the image you put out on social media. If it has your name on it, it’s your reputation. Don’t forget it. And don’t let anyone mess with it!
- Keep a consistent voice. Regardless of the medium or platforms, it’s imperative that your school has a consistent voice. Your graduates, students and future students all need to recognize you for who you are, what you offer and what you represent. Stay true to the mission statement of your institution and never waver in your commitment to a stellar reputation.
- Respond quickly to the positive—and negative—feedback you receive on social media. A potential student wants information on a program or major? Get it to him quickly. A few people comment on your blog post with additional info, thank them. You have a dissatisfied student venting online? Give them immediate attention. Respond initially right online where everyone can see that you take this stuff seriously, but then bring the conversation offline. And don’t just placate them with empty promises. Find a solution to their problem if you can. If you can’t, direct them to someone who can. You may not be able to satisfy every student, but you can—and should—try.
- Promote the positive. If your students and graduates are boasting about their accomplishments, don’t miss the opportunity to congratulate them and remind everyone from where they graduated. When you do community outreach, use traditional and digital marketing to get the word out. Whenever and wherever you see success, whether from your institution, your staff, your students or graduates, promote it!