What is Your Digital Footprint?
What exactly is your Digital Footprint and why is it important to the success of your business?
Your digital footprint consists of any and all information that can be found on the internet relating to you and your business. Information can range from websites and social platforms, to news articles and photos, to downloadable items such as e-books and podcasts.
There are two important facts to keep in mind when considering your digital footprint.
First, whether you want one or not, you have one. Either you are actively managing and cultivating your digital footprint or third party sites and services are doing it for you.
Second, your digital footprint impacts your bottom line. An ever-increasing number of people will form an initial opinion of you and your business based on the information they find in the digital world. That opinion will be formed in a matter of seconds, and regardless of whether the opinion is positive or negative, it will be very difficult to change moving forward.
A common misconception by many professionals is that participation in the digital world is an elective activity. It is not. Anyone on the face of the earth can Google your name, and when they do, Google will provide pages of results. But what exactly will those results be?
Will the results be positive and flattering, or something else? Will they be related to your current professional achievements, or outdated and irrelevant snippets from earlier periods of your life? Worse yet, will the search results actually be about you an your professional practice, or about someone with a name confusingly similar to yours, or maybe even your competition?
A common search result for professionals such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants is any number of third party professional rating sites. These sites tap into large databases such as state bar association directories and medical boards to automatically create a listing for professionals within those databases. Oftentimes those listings will display outdated or erroneous information related to your practice. They may display profile photos that you find unflattering. And since many of these sites allow, and even encourage customer feedback, you may find yourself with a one-out-of-five star rating simply because an anomaly of a client stumbled upon this site and decided to take the time to give negative feedback for the world to see.
In such instances, what is your strategy for updating, diluting, or outright removing the information present on this profile you didn’t create?
Generally speaking, properly managing your digital footprint consists of three actions.
First, select platforms on which you will intentionally operate. Common platforms include your company website, social networks such as facebook, twitter, and youtube, and distributions platforms such as itunes and soundcloud. You don’t have to be active on every platform, but for the two or three you initially select, you should have a well defined strategy that allows you to operate at the highest level possible.
Second, you must create original content. Content is the fuel that powers your selected platforms, and without regularly produced, high quality content, your platforms will ultimately crumble and be of no value to your business. Content comes in the form of images, articles, videos, e-books, and podcasts. And you should have your production schedule mapped out for the next six months.
Finally, all of your platforms, and the content that populates them, must use consistent branding. Your branding includes logos, color schemes, font selections, narratives, and trademarks. Your branding is visual shorthand for you and the quality of your professional services. If you have not yet invested in professional branding, then you should do so immediately as it forms the most basic foundation of a strong digital footprint.
Deciding to properly manage and cultivate your digital footprint is your first step towards promoting and growing your professional practice. It is a task that should receive your highest level of attention, and should be delegated with the same care as handing someone your checkbook.
Ask yourself, at this very moment, who is currently holding the keys to your digital footprint, and what strategic plan are they implementing?