Getting your Brand Online and protecting it


 

Picking up from the last article “The secret to transforming your successful Business into a Successful Brand” (ELT News- The Consultancy Corner – March 2013), this month we will examine how we can take our brand online and safeguard it.

Choice of medium

The first thing to consider about having an online presence is, quite simply, what you want people to think when they first meet you. By “you” we might mean your business as you see it, rather than you personally. The essence of that first impression is important as this is what we will sustain through repeated social online interaction.   

Part of presenting your online brand is to consider the medium and the tools you will use. This is critical as not all businesses should use all available tools.

Think about how you intend to promote your school on the web and also how the “personality of your brand” works well in the social media world. If, for example, you are a better public speaker than a writer, you may well consider having audio podcasts as your online medium of choice, because it will show your ideas and yourself in the best light.

Likewise, if you are more a person of words than pictures, choosing a medium that relies more heavily on deftness with text (Twitter, blogging, Facebook Status updates) may be the best place to begin.

By Konstantinos Koutovas 

Considerations for success

Managing your online brand is key to success. It is important to make sure that the information you want to be released is timely posted, accurate and positive. Nowadays, there is a lot of buzz around social media and social networking sites. In order to keep your school at the forefront of your industry you need to be part of the game as well as learn how to play it. Great emphasis has been given previously to the importance of the word of mouth and the peoples’ network.

Digital word of mouth has the ability to create a more dynamic and engaging marketplace for your brand. If you are looking to buy a book on Amazon, you will often look at the recommendations from others who have bought the book. You may also look at other recommended books that have been sold along with your original choice.

You need to always remember that peer recommendations are powerful and can clinch deals. Listening to your online and offline friends is much more powerful than buying from a “boring” and static website. People buy from people, so online testimonials from parents as well as students (current and alumni) is an effective and positive tool to have on your website.

Managing your brand effectively

Brand management is all about making certain that you have a consistent message. It’s about making sure that everyone in your school (secretary, teachers, DOS) follows your messaging guidelines and knows what to say. It’s about damage control if there are any problems down the line. It’s about consistency and communication, it’s about empowering your employees and trusting them but it’s hard to do that well without proper guidelines in place.

When the basic choices of medium and content have been made in tandem with the staff of the school there are some further considerations to be made in order to create a brand that is instantly recognizable.

Delivery of Information

Your brand will never take off if people can’t find the information that they need. A website can be the product of many long hours of work and remain essentially empty with no useful content anywhere to be found. No brand can survive unless it actually delivers. Providingnew and updated content at well-timed intervals is the key.

Added Value

When building your online brand, try to find opportunities to add value to your services. Spending time and money to develop a brand that is too focused on a specific service can hamper your ability to easily expand your services portfolio in the future.

Easy to Navigate

Easy to navigate goes without saying. Today’s internet users have very short attention span. Your professional brand can grab their attention, but poor navigation will drive them away from your online site in seconds.

Sidestepping the Competition

People will click on the link that are more familiar with. A strong brand will make potential clients sidestep your competitors and come to you. Brand power is not only restricted to your online brand, but can also help you draw attention from your competition in print and other media.

 

Risk of online branding – 5 tips to help you protect your online brand.

Respond to criticism. A single bad review can develop a life of its own online, and may be quoted, referred to, re-tweeted or shared on facebook for a long time. Counter criticism wherever you can to make sure your side of the story is always visible.

Even bad reviews can have positive effects if they draw your attention to genuine concerns. If a post is particularly offensive or clearly unjustified, you may be able to get it removed before it spreads. For instance, there are many examples of students who have posted inappropriate content on their school’s facebook page.  Such comments must be immediately removed.

Keep your brand consistent. On your own website, on social media sites and elsewhere, your branding, approach and tone of voice should be consistent and recognizable – it’s reassuring to potential customers and helps to underline your values.

Conclusion

No business can afford not to be part of the social game. We can’t and shouldn’t   underestimate the power of online peer recommendations. We need to consider our current approach to marketing and think if it still works in the social media world.

We need to be very careful with what we write, what we post and the comments we receive and have someone monitor our online presence. Managing our online reputation carefully and taking prompt action to quickly rectify any damage to our brand while being aware of the impact it might have on our brand reputation can guarantee a positive long-lasting presence on the Internet.

Konstantinos Koutovas BA Business - is the Co-owner and Marketing Director of Input on Educationa company which provides academic, business support and consultancy to Foreign Language Schools.  Konstantinos is a graduate of the University of Surrey where he studied Business Administration and Marketing.

 He has worked as a marketing manager and director in a number of firms both in Greece and in the UK. Konstantinos also runs Input on Marketing (IoM) a company focusing mainly on marketing strategies for small businesses.  

www.input.edu.gr           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    

 

 

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