The era of digitalization has led to a major shift in the approach of maintaining brand, brand value and reputation. Major corporations have always been focusing on building the reputation of the organization by utilizing the best possible ways.
Increased internet accessibility is a major factor leading the online presence of organizations into a channel for maintaining the organization reputation.
Leaving behind the conventional ways of brand management, Corporations have wholeheartedly accepted vitals of “Online presence” as a component of overall reputation management, This is not just limited to corporations but extends to academic institutions as well.
Majority of universities of global repute have implemented digital ways of maintaining the repute through significant presence across the online channels.
Colleges like Harvard, Oxford have always been focusing on significant online presence through all possible online channels, which is exactly what every university should look forward to doing.
Digital presence is surely a factor that universities must not neglect in order to be part of a paradigm shift in academic brand management
Here is how you can work to improve your university’s online reputation
1) Improving presence across online platforms:
Various online platforms are available to portray the academic and cocurricular activities of your institution which would contribute to the reputation of the institution.
Here are the platforms you should think about
Building the website
Your own website is the most important channel of communication with the present and prospective students of your institution.
Building the website of your own can be a tedious task, but the hosting platforms would surely help you with the same
Here are the major factors to consider while building the website
Domain name should be relevant and should end with .edu or .ac.in (Eg: EngineeringInstitute.edu , University.ac.in)
Website should be built considering the search engine algorithms and should be optimized accordingly, SEO (search engine optimization) tools can help you manage SEO, A website with better SEO is more likely to be shown in results by the search engines; which makes the website more accessible
Website should be optimized for mobile devices
Regular updates of institutional activities should be posted on the website
Adding up a “Blog section” to your institute’s website can help you to significantly increase the traffic to your website.
Here are the things to consider while implementing blogs for your website
- Blog topic: The blog topic should be specific and targeted towards the population of interest. e.g: If you offer the course in the field of management sciences, the topics should be concentrated around management studies, this will help you attract the niche and right audience and build the “Quality traffic” for your website.
- Blog publishing: The blogs should be shared on other platforms including the website homepage and social media platform
- Inter blog linking: Provide links to the relevant topics on which you have already written a blog on. For example, In case you have already published an article on “Importance of time management”, try to include the link to the written article wherever applicable.
- Video content: Try to include short videos made primarily for the purpose of blog, These will help in audience retention on your website.
- Subscription: Provide a button to let readers “Subscribe” to your blogs, this way you can notify the reader each time you publish a new article, this not only helps in increasing traffic but also helps in building relation with your readers.
Setting up the social media accounts
Importance of social media is inevitable in maintaining the online brand. Based on your target audience, you can expand your presence across the social media platforms.
Here are the major social media platforms to think of-
LinkedIn– Professional social network, Can help you in building the student network, alumni network and inter-institutional collaborations
Instagram- Platform to post flyers, invitations and photos of the institutional academic and cocurricular activities
Facebook- Network to post the event information and to make the group of people with similar interests.
Twitter- Twitter lets you post the short text with relevant images, Proper use of HashTags (#Tags) can help you to target the prospectus students or people of relevant interests.
2) Setting up communication channels:
The website can be used to collect the communication information like the email address and mobile number.
Using the features of bulk mailing, You can keep in touch with the niche readers of your content.
Certain bulk mail tools can be integrated with google sheets and can be used to send customized emails to large numbers of people. Newsletters should ideally be sent from time to time (periodically, say weekly or monthly), which would contain the list of articles and activities done during the week.
Student connect programs
Student connect programs are intended to bring the students of different colleges and streams together; Bigger universities try to bring together students from different streams on a single platform to promote interdisciplinary interactions.
As part of the student connect program in online mode, you can have interaction with the prospective students of your institute as well; which would help you to attract talented individuals to your institution, which in turn increases the overall presence and importance of your university
3) Organize online events:
Online events can be another channel of being connected with the students and parents,which can significantly help you in academic brand building, Here are the types of online events that you can consider of:
There is no doubt that webinars are one of the best ways of academic networking.
Webinars are the short interactive sessions using online platforms, webinars can be conducted on the topics that relate the academic interests of your university. Webinars can be conducted on a wide range of topics, The topics should be designed to attract the target audience.
Industry to academia connect programmes can help you to bring the speakers from the industry to deliver the webinar.
Online alumni meet:
Online alumni meets can serve as a tool to grow your online presence, yearly alumni meet can help the current students of your institute to take guidance and can add value to university’s overall online reputation
Online certification programs:
The well designed online certification programs are a vital aid of building the online reputation. Online certification programs are short training programs which are implemented as part of open learning.
Free and paid online certification programmes help the university not only to build online reputation but also to reach more students and spread the knowledge by surpassing the location and infrastructure barriers.
Here is how you can create “Your own online certification programmes”- Link to article (Steps to create your own online certification course”)
4) Discussion threads:
It is often observed that prospective students try to find the answers to their questions about the admission process, curriculum, co-curricular activities, fees, hostel and many more such topics.
Many of such queries go unanswered. Keeping track of such questions and answering them can help universities to better reach the students and improve their online presence which would add up to the reputation of the university.
Here are some common platforms to track such queries-
Quora is major platform where students are seen asking specific questions about the colleges, You can consider replying these questions on the behalf of your university
Various college related questions are frequently posted on reddit, similar to quora, you can take part in discussions on reddit. As part of your answers; you can include your blogs and website links to provide the accurate relevant information to the students
5)Registration with college database websites:
No wonder that there are websites ;which are dedicated to university and college information. These websites are highly optimized for SEO and thus presence on such websites can help in vitalizing your online presence and repute.
Here are the websites to consider of-
- Jagran Josh
As a cherry on the top, these websites can help you to fetch leads in the form of admission to your university, you can keep updating the information on these websites through your own login, Nevertheless; these websites turn out to be a mini web page for your university