How to Avoid Bad Buzz and Get Good Grades

Translated by Nina Fink, Sophie Blitman
Publié le
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© Gertrude O'Byrne
© Gertrude O'Byrne // ©  Gertrude O'Byrne
Universities are not alone in having to learn how to produce, protect and promote their image in the era of social networks and free-flowing information on the web. We interviewed community managers at French universities to find out what their experience had taught them about connecting with their communities and learning to go with the flow.

#1 Let Go of Controlling Everything

Many community managers agree that in order to successfully handle social media, you have to let go of the idea that you can control every aspect of your university's image. Sylvain Léauthier, Community Manager at Catholic University of Lyon, points out that "today, communications departments don't have a monopoly on their university's image."

#2 Encourage Students and Professors to Adopt Best Practices

While it is simply impossible – and frankly not a good idea – to control everything to do with your school's image, certain universities have tried to influence their students and professors by creating best practice guidelines.

In 2014, when a controversy erupted over a Dauphine University professor who had asked Master in Management Sciences applicants for copies of their Facebook profiles, the university decided to create a charter. This allowed Dauphine to explain what is and is not permitted on its social network pages. The charter warns, "Don't forget that the stronger the reputation Dauphine has, the better the professional opportunities will be for our students."

#3 Create One Single, Official Image

Sometimes universities have to reign in student initiatives. In 2011, Dauphine had to "put affairs in order because students had created Facebook and Twitter accounts using the school's logo that came into competition with the school's pages. This made it seem like the student pages were the official accounts," explains Armelle de Kerros, director of communications.

#4 Get Your Community Involved

Once you have consolidated your university's identity on social networks, student, professor and alumni accounts can help to create, as Manuel Canévet, co-founder of Campus Communication, puts it, "an ecosystem by structuring the flow of information."

#5 Take Full Advantage of Your Web Presence

Universities often miss out on some of the opportunities afforded them by their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. According to Nicolas Grosse-Waechter of Kedge Business School, "These spaces belong to the school and are a great way to promote content and establish your brand."

In particular, given the fact that young people trust their peers when it comes to choosing schools, universities have "every interest in publishing positive student content on their school site and social network pages. That is one way to provide potential students with some of the information that they look for on forums," explains Sylvain Léauthier.

#6 Keep a Close Watch

While Google and Twitter alerts allow you to scan the web for key words, they aren't the only tools out there. Forums that house a lot of student discussions can reveal why students are opting for one school or another.

#7 Do Not Respond to Every Comment

What is the best way to respond to negative comments? Léauthier advises that you "measure the impact of the comment before jumping in. Tweets are temporary and don't have a major impact if the person only has a few followers, whereas a forum with a lot of hits on Google is far more influential."

#8 Define Your Communications Strategy

It can be hard for community managers to answer every single question that is posted online. According to Manuel Canévet, there is a need for dedicated customer service staff to "continue the work that is done in-person at fairs and open house days."

Social networks provide opportunities for conversation. As Nicolas Grosse-Waechter explains, "One size does not fit all when it comes to communications. Moreover, pushing your own content too hard can leave a bad impression." Even in the constantly changing world of the web, schools need to adopt a long-term strategy.

Read the article (in french)

Translated by Nina Fink, Sophie Blitman | Publié le

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