A digital footprint is a compilation of the online “traces” that people and companies leave of themselves. Some footprint elements are deliberate – photos uploaded to social media, posted content, publicly listed email addresses, and information of that sort. Other parts of a footprint are incidental – a comment on an Amazon purchase, a mention of their name in a news article, or a photo they’re tagged in by a third party. If you wanted to get even more technical about it, a digital footprint includes all of a person or company’s information gathered analytic technologies like Google Analytics or the Facebook pixel.
Digital footprints represent a large part of a person or company’s total web presence, since footprints often involve content and materials that come from beyond their direct control. In a day and age where an online reputation is more important than ever, it’s vital to ensure that your company understands its own digital footprint, and that there’s a plan for managing it.
Managing Your Company’s Digital Footprint
In an ideal situation, the management of a company’s digital footprint would involve keeping a close eye on social media pages and occasionally looking at your organization’s Google Alerts. However, the reality is often much more complicated.
Your company’s digital footprint will carry quite a bit of input from everywhere it’s mentioned on the Internet, from social media to traditional press coverage and beyond. A business’ digital footprint will likely include inputs from:
- Yelp reviews
- Client testimonials
- Press releases
- Facebook reviews
- Twitter mentions
- LinkedIn activity
The management of your digital footprint will typically involve a mixture of self-branding, signal boosting the good things said about your company, and appropriately addressing any critiques or bad press (and notice how we didn’t tell you to try to remove bad press entirely!).
Self-branding is an admittedly broad term with different definitions depending on the context; in terms of managing a digital footprint, self-branding covers anything and everything that your company directly controls about its web presence, from the colors on the website to the language used on the company social media accounts. In managing a digital footprint, self-branding – every photo, every Tweet, every email blast, every link on the corporate website – should be used to solidify and amplify the unique features that help the company stand out from the competition.
For the more concrete aspects of reputation management, it’s important to know what to do with reviews of your company. Positive reviews – whether from customers or the press – can always be re-purposed in later promotional materials, social media posts, and press releases. Furthermore, reusing positive things said about your company will ultimately increase the prevalence of positive attention in your organization’s digital footprint.
In cases of critique or complaint, many of the largest social networks – Facebook and Twitter among them – afford your business the opportunity to respond. Regardless of the validity of the complaint, it always puts your company in a better light to formulate a balanced, measured response that shows a commitment to resolving an issue.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to ensure that a plan is in place for how your company intends to respond to a statement said about it. At Envision, we have years of experience in helping companies optimize and manage their online presences. Give us a shout if you need anything.