Leveraging your people is an effective way to market your brand. University and college faculty have a cross-section of expertise that groups from the media to industry partners are interested in finding. They all start the search online. Is your net presence up to the challenge?
A recent blog from Higher Education Marketing provides insight into promoting faculty, with the same principle we work with here at Expertise Finder. Here are the key take-aways from the blog post in my view:
“A surprising number of schools, colleges and universities don’t even have a faculty page. Their instructors – quite possibly an education institution’s most valuable asset – are conspicuously absent from their website and social media accounts.”
A common theme across the thousands of higher education websites I have looked at is believing that ‘good enough’ is effective. It’s too easy to go online to a competitor regardless of distance.
“Instead of burying instructors in a long directory (or omitting them from your website altogether), provide photos and links to brief biographies.”
Here is a concrete example from a European University that the post highlights. I like it because it’s something any institution can do, it may not be fancy but it underlines the first things a site needs to do to harness their faculty as promotional tool. (read my post Stop ‘Dead Ending’ Experts Directory Users to see the features you need and why)
“You can use Google Analytics to track which website pages get the most traction”
You need to identify opportunities and challenges. We have found with clients that the value in the analytics we provide is less than the overall numbers like page views and bounce rate, but insight on what is being searched and who is searching allows them to tailor their approach.
One point I disagree with in the post is “Promote Your Teachers’ Success on Your Homepage”. Fewer and fewer users enter your site via the homepage. The days of fierce battles over the homepage are a bit of a moot point. Today it is about having web optimized pages across your site to ensure that you rank well, whatever that niche area is being searched.
SEO and Search
After that last point I feel compelled to add two website pillars that the post misses – SEO and search.
If you are not being found on Google it’s like you hardly exist in today’s internet. As we built Expertise Finder we came to appreciate that this is a core requirement; a need rather than a nice-to-have. It’s hard to do well, which is why many ‘pretty’ faculty lists exist but they don’t do much to help the institution rank higher.
Finally, natural language search is a core requirement to get a user on your site to take action. Once you have accomplished the herculean task of getting a user to your site it means they are close to taking concrete action.
But how do you get them to pass the goal-line? A search bar needs to be complemented in ways to keep the user making forward progress. See my blog Stop ‘Dead Ending’ Experts Directory Users for more details.