Managing your social footprint, personally and professionally, increasing reputation and opportunity!
What is a digital footprint
Your digital footprint is the information about you that exists on the internet as a result of your online activity. It includes the websites you visit, emails you send, and information you submit to online services. Even if you think your online activity is limited or non-existent, a “passive digital footprint” can build. This data trail occurs unintentionally online as you check bank statements, pay bills, order from online retailers and read the news.
Three billion people are active on social channels. Limitless new apps and innovations are being developed every day to meet the demands of both buyer and advertiser. We certainly live in an age of extraordinary knowledge, communication and connectivity. All these things make our lives more convenient, but also add considerable risk at the same time.
- Every day 1 billion+ names are searched on google
- 77% of job recruiters are required to look potential employees up online during the hiring process.
- 45% of people have found something in an online search that made them decide not to do business with someone.
Each online action contributes to your footprint. So, imagine, every search, every online payment, survey and transaction, replies to posts on social media, and of course blog posts and online article contributions, are all tracks making up your digital journey.
With all this information being collected, you can imagine that for good or bad, it will shape your reputation.
How many of you have ever googled yourself?
The first step to understanding your current footprint and the impact (if any) it might be having on your reputation is to review it. Simple. Google yourself and see what comes up. You will either find that:
- Mostly positive or neutral info pops up. This is good for you…
- Results give negative comments or interactions to online activity or highlight offensive posts on social sites. Potentially damaging for you…
- When this happens, it can be damaging to your personal brand, so make an effort to have them removed or made invisible to the public
Pay attention to apps on your smartphone as they also collect data about you and contribute to your online presence.
While social media is not the only way to leave an online footprint, it is often the vehicle for inappropriate content, unwanted solicitation and reputation damaging interactions. Most of us take great precautions to hide our social security numbers, use secure web services for online payments and encrypted emails for personal financial transactions – yet we forget to take such care with the other aspects of our personal lives.
You can stay connected and informed – but don’t fall victim to the quantity over quality trap.
- Having thousands of “connections” in your online spheres who cannot provide value or influence outcome will not help you.
- Focus on engaging with your contacts about professional trends, business problem solving or by creating meaningful connections between your contacts online or offline.
Take time to like, share, or retweet and comment on other’s posts. They will return the favor.
Favorite local businesses notice you
- Engaging with a brand online not only keeps you up to date on new offerings and user perks, it also makes you “visible” to the company.
- Whether your goal is to build business or gain employment, commenting and interacting with a brand online is an effective strategy.
Become the authority and the “go to” resource
- Through consistent sharing of engaging content (useful information, industry tips and relevant materials) you can establish yourself as the expert in your field.
- Create original content, share industry related influence content and pose questions
- Write your own blog and share on social sites. Gain traction for your blogsite and provide useful information at the same time.
Stay on top of the latest trends and developments
- The latest industry news and trend updates may confirm you as a leader.
- This kind of information should be of interest to your peers which boosts your “reads and shares.”
- This can work to your favor with employers too. Sharing info through an internal system may boost your “identity” within the company and showcase your knowledge.
Employers and industry partners are watching
- Sharing photos that do not paint you in the best picture can only damage your personal brand. This means your latest post from the crazy weekend could harm your chances of success.
- A recent study conducted by Jobvite revealed that 92% of recruiters likely to review your social media profile if you apply for a job.
- It’s not just images of you that can leave a bad impression. Shared images regarding “not work appropriate” subject matter can be just as damaging.
Don’t use social media to vent about your employer.
- Not only can it get you in trouble with your current boss, it speaks poorly about your ability to be discreet. This in turn provides cause for future employers to overlook you for employment to avoid being the subject of your next rant.
- If you want to hold on to your current job until you find your next great opportunity – don’t share info about job searches, etc. Even if you’re not connected to your manager – you don’t know who in your circle might be.
- If you own a business that has strict legislative rules & regulations (such as alcohol, tobacco or firearms) then posts can be incriminating and put your establishment at risk.
Grammar – did I say grammar?
- Avoid using “text” style writing on social sites. It downgrades your professionalism and perceived intelligence.
- While grammar does not indicate intelligence it still seems to matter to most. A few stats:
- A Jobvite survey found that 66 percent of employers look negatively upon poor spelling and grammar on social media.
- Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles had achieved higher positions. The profiles of those who’d failed to achieve director-level positions within the first 10 years of their careers made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as their director-level colleagues.
- Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals with 6-9 promotions made 45% fewer grammatical errors than those who’d been promoted 1-4 times.
Disparaging or insulting comments only hurt you!
- Inflammatory comments online will be received as an indication of your response in a confrontational situation within a work environment.
- If you must respond or comment on a highly charged post, always build your case in a mature and subjective manner to maintain your professional integrity.
Behemoths like Facebook, Google and even Amazon have taken “target audience” to a whole new realm.
- Have you noticed that items you recently viewed online for purchase suddenly show up in the margins while on social media sites?
- They are controlling what we see, when we see it and how often it appears.
- This means, they are also controlling what your customer or potential users are seeing as well.
- With that, it can be hard to cut through the red tape and get to your audience. A company needs to have a clear marketing strategy if it can hope to have any marketing success. It’s vital to have strategic goals to reach an audience. Without this focus efforts can be lost in the noise
Managing your online reputation
Our country is full of small businesses, with more than 76% of those falling into the single employee/sole proprietor role. Business this size can’t afford to have negative comments and complaints showing up on page 1 of a google search. Therefore, a proactive approach to online reputation is so critical.
- Pages should feature your name, profile photo, website, location and description. It should be linked from your website and have a growing number of followers.
- Beginning with your website, consumers should easily be able to find out who’s who in your company and how to contact you. This helps build trust and further relationships.
- Ask clients & customers to leave reviews. This not do you gain online advocates, but you begin to insulate yourself from the negative effects of any one review.
- Traditional pr still works! Use old fashioned tools to build a stellar reputation offline. Become the authority by writing a book or guide in your industry. Report innovative products or processes to the media – human interest stories. A sponsor of a local event, festival or kids’ sports team.
- The more you can boost your offline reputation, the more it will uplift your online reputation.
- One last item – never ignore negative posts or comments made to your online pages. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge. Apologize. Correct the wrong and improve.
The bottom line:
Using social media as a business building tool is affordable and traceable for most business owners, irrelevant of company size. Allows companies of all sizes to provide a user experience for consumers. Real-time responses, online testimonials and opportunities to interact and influence product, delivery, and much more.
Like all opportunities, there are risks involved when proper attention or time is not dedicated to the effort. If you can only manage one or two social sites, then don’t add more. Just be sure that you are giving proper time and energy to be the best you can be in those spaces.
Given the benefits that a great digital footprint can offer it’s well worth the effort required to optimize and nurture yours!