Higher Education Marketing

XXX Domains and Reputation Management

Date posted: December 16, 2011

Sponsored by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR), triple-x domains (.xxx) are intended as a voluntary option for pornographic sites. The idea is that these domains would highlight pornographic sites, making it easier for parents and employers to block sites without imposing restrictions. This is considered preferable to complex and error-prone content-based filtering. General availability of these domains started on December 6th, and schools have already been snapping them up (Penn State, for example, was quick to buy a number of .xxx domains, for obvious reasons). Canadian schools have also got in on the act, buying domains to prevent people from linking their institution with lewd content. A recent Academica Top Ten newsletter gave the examples of Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University, who have all bought xxx domains. "The reason we would do this as an institution is to protect our reputation," a spokesman for Grant MacEwan said. Check out this news report, which explores these issues: As we have discussed in the past with regards to social media strategies and plans, reputation management is necessary for higher education institutions, and the .xxx domains clearly puts this issue front and center. But what is reputation management? And apart from buying x-rated domain names, what else can schools do? Reputation management relies on online promotional activity, including: Promoting new content If you want to protect against a bad reputation, what better way is there than to develop and promote new, exciting and positive content? This can be in the form of blog posts, videos, photos and more. Promoting existing positive content You may already have a stockpile of positive content to promote. An effective form of reputation management is to use the content you have in an effective way, highlighting everything good that your school has to offer. Getting involved on forums and blogs A student blog can be very helpful in creating and maintaing a discussion, but you should also be involved on other school-related forums and blogs. This maintains your online presence and ensures that you're part of the discussion. Building social media profiles and presence Your school has to have a social media presence and a comprehensive strategy that incorporates various social network platforms with your website and content. Having an effective online presence can help guard your reputation. Social media monitoring Following your share of social media voice can let you understand the needs of your target audiences. By monitoring your social media presence, you can help guide the conversation, solidifying your brand reputation and gaining the trust of the online community. Search engine optimization Are negative mentions of your school ranking high in the search results for your institution’s name? You don’t have control over what people say about your school, but you can get negative mentions bumped down in search results by optimizing your program pages and content. Responding immediately to public criticism Things happen, and sometimes your school can be criticized. Don’t hide from this criticism. Responding immediately shows that you care about issues and concerns. It also gives you the opportunity to frame the conversation. Fake positive comments? Some may suggest posting fake positive comments on blog posts and content, but we would recommend avoiding this tactic. It’s dishonest and this kind of trickery can backfire if exposed. Is reputation management something your school is concerned about? What other tactics have you used?