How to Optimize Online Reputation Management Process for University

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Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become a crucial inbound marketing activity to enhance branding of your university or college.

The reputation of any organization is one of the most valuable attribute that has a deep influence on purchase decisions of its target audience. It can either have a positive or negative impact on acceptance of the brand by its target market.

In today’s digitally driven world, effective online reputation management assumes more importance since millennials are constantly hooked onto various online devices. They can easily access information about your college or university on these platforms. Timely management of online platforms will help to provide right information about your institute to all the stakeholders.

Optimizing Online Reputation Management Process for Academia

Online reputation management is the process of taking pre-emptive measures to safeguard reputation of your brand online. Online reputation management can really enhance your existing brand image to a new level. Through targeted ORM activities, your college or university can drive better admission results.

Virtual world is the key to marketing success today. This is especially true for the colleges and universities where most of the target audience is consuming information online. ORM becomes a critical part of the marketing strategies to timely address adverse comments. This could affect aspiring students’ decision of joining or not joining your college. Hence, educational institutes need to strategies and maintain their online reputation.

ORM is essential for universities to drive admissions. The process of online reputation management ensures that you are able to project the right kind of image to your target audience. With the right ORM strategies, institutes can communicate their USPs effectively.

Online reputation management in layman terms is just good publicity. It is now almost imperative for educational institutes to include it in their marketing plan as part of their PR building exercise.

Let us see some of the factors that colleges and universities can look into to optimize their online reputation management strategies to generate favourable publicity for their academic brand.

Strategies and Solutions to improve online reputation management (ORM)

#1. Effective stakeholder management

Ensure that your online reputation management strategies is focussed on catering to the informational needs of all stakeholders concerned. It should portray your institute’s uniform brand image across genres.

Most students nowadays do a thorough research about the colleges and universities before applying. If your institute does not have a strong online brand presence, then chances are that you are losing out on a lot of potential aspirants.

By making a relevant online presence, your institute will be able to manage its online reputation effectively. Apart from the students, your online presence also matters to other stakeholders such as parents, recruiters etc. These groups also actively look for relevant information about your institute on digital platforms.  And, if your institute is not available online or have a weak reputation there, then you may not be able to create a favourable brand perception about your college or university among them.

#2. Online reputation management (ORM) helps to build institutional credibility

Online reputation management is a public relations exercise that aims at building trust with your target audience. With targeted ORM strategies, an institute can build top of the mind recall and stay relevant for their intended audience. For an educational institute, building trust is very important. The more the trust, the better it is.

#3. Avoid or control negative publicity

Bad word of mouth publicity is something that affects every college or university. Bad publicity results in brand dilution and if not addressed timely, it can have deep repercussions.  Wrong information about your institute can destroy its reputation.

But with proactive online reputation management process, your college or university can mitigate possible risks arising out of negative publicity online. Strategically planning out ORM activities can uplift the brand’s image across media publishing channels.

Most academic institutes have so far failed to realize the need of effective ORM strategies for their brand. By not doing so, they are prone to risking their institutional brand image. One reputation management fiasco can toss an institutes future. And, sometimes it is too late for any damage control.

Challenges in online reputation management and solutions

Challenges in any new initiative will be there. The best way to deal is by developing customized strategies for each situation.

For example, online review sites are a major challenge to handle. These are visited by almost every online user today. Generally people check reviews about a college or university in these sites and discussion forums before making an informed decision.

It is very difficult to please everyone but by proactively providing genuine information about your college on these sites can enhance your reputation. Any negative review should be addressed with a polite counter.

Online reviews are usually read by aspirants and taken pretty seriously. So, the first thing ORMs need to do is classify your reviews into various buckets so that you can priorities them accordingly and divide your time and effort as needed. For a seriously negative review, try to present a positive narrative so that your academic brand is not viewed in bad light.

Similarly, social networks present a great challenge to manage online reputation. Social channels have become a mainstream platform to tackle ORM activities. These channels have users from all demographic and interest groups, who can become your stakeholders.

To lessen the impact of negative comments on social channels, you must constantly share interesting information about your institute. Meaningful engagement on social networks will help to improve brand image of your college or university. You must motivate your college’s alumni network to post positive feedback and reviews of your academic brand.

What tools do you use to monitor your brand’s online mentions

Apart from the above, another challenge in managing online reputation is the selection of right tools.

ORM tools are plenty in number. But not all are equally good. Select the right tools to make your ORM campaign better performing. The right tools are those that offer multiple services from a unique platform. There are free tools as well as paid tools. Free tools come with limited features, which is why brands mostly select paid tools.

There are several online tools such as Google alerts etc. that help you track online mentions of your brand. SocialMention is also a useful tool to measure your brand mentions online.

Make sure you are using the right tool to monitor your academic brand’s online productivity in terms of its social mentions.

Final word

Online reputation management is a new form of PR for the digital world. Reputation management should be an essential element of any institute’s marketing plan. ORM can boost your digital marketing efforts and help build institutional brand awareness.

With growing number of online users, reputation management is increasingly becoming crucial to create trust and acceptance for your academic brand. Top educational brands face this problem. They employ several marketing managers who work day in and day out to ensure their admission targets. But it becomes difficult for them sometimes to keep monitoring their brand’s online visibility and feedback.

To overcome this challenge, brands need to employ online reputation management strategies to supervise their online presence and its credibility. Their job should be listening to online reviews about their academic brand on students’ discussion forums and other web space. University and colleges should educate their marketing teams to address ORM issues to enhance institutional brand image.

The above blog signifies why it’s important for University brands to strategize their online reputation management process. If our readers wish to share their experiences of managing online reputation for their academic brand, they can write back to us in the comments section.

 

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