If your brand is on the internet, then you will have a digital brand footprint. It is essential to understand your digital brand footprint to make sure that it is working for you instead of against you.
Understanding Your Digital Brand Footprint
You might think that all you need to know about your digital brand footprint is that you have social media accounts, but there is so much more to it than that. Your digital brand footprint will hold all of the posts you have ever created on the internet. Sound daunting? It certainly can be!
The Importance of Understanding Your Digital Brand Footprint
The old cliche is right here:
Once you put something on the interenet, it’s on the internet for good.
This can work for good or bad, but you have to know what’s out there to make that decision. What you put on the internet has the potential to haunt you forever. This includes photos or videos you posted on social media, radical opinions published under your name, and personally identifiable information like your contact info, address, credit card data, or Social Security number.
It is super easy to share information on the web, and the second you post something online, even if its only for a few brief moments, there’s a chance that someone else has seen it. Consequently, it will be impossible to rescind your post.
Your information is now out of your hands.
Additionally, just because the content provider that you’re using tells you something was deleted doesn’t necessarily make it true. For example, deleting a picture on Facebook will not really remove it from your digital brand footprint. While you may have removed the photos from the site, they are still present on Facebook’s servers.
When you choose to delete something you shared on Facebook, we remove it from the site. Some of this information is permanently deleted from our servers; however, some things can only be deleted when you permanently delete your account.
If you have even the smallest concern that you’ll regret posting something on the internet, then don’t post it. Your content’s life on the internet will begin the moment you upload it, not when you share it.
Your digital brand footprint is any traces of information or data about your brand that can be found online. The critical thing to remember here is that you take your footprint with you everytime you go on the internet. When you sign up for something, create a new service account, or join a social media network, you’re building your footprint.
The information that you share stays on the internet unless you or someone else deletes it, and even this has no guarantee of absolute destruction.
The problem becomes that when people sign up for new services and social networks, they will typically forget about the old ones. Your interests and the trends may change, but the data you leave behind will stay the same. Most users don’t delete these abandoned accounts and will merely go on to the next thing.
A perfect example of this is MySpace and Facebook. You might forget that you had 400 friends on MySpace when you got your new Facebook account, but the internet never will.
The out of sight out of mind mentality may apply to you when dealing with your old accounts and passwords, but this isn’t the case for hackers. You might forget your old passwords, and you might abandon the email address you used to create the account, but if you don’t delete the account, then this information is just waiting for hackers to get their hands on.
Hackers can break into social media accounts that have not been active for a long time but were never deleted and collect data like your contact information, name, and any private information linked to the site. This information could then be used to extort and blackmail, among other things.
Hackers Can Keep Data Forever
Hackers can hang onto any data they steal from you forever. This means they can help on to it until it becomes relevant for them.
Trend Micro pointed out that some hackers like to use old internet accounts to gather information about potential cyber attack victims. There was a breach of LinkedIn that resulted in the theft of emails and passwords of 167 million LinkedIn users dating back to 2012. When the offense happened, only 6.5 million passwords were posted online. This means that the hackers could still be holding on to the other millions of passwords until they become relevant. Any LinkedIn account holders who have not changed their passwords since 2012 are now at risk, with hackers having free access to these accounts.
LinkedIn isn’t the only social networking site to have had this happen either.
Tumblr had 65 million account passwords and email addresses stolen in 2013.
MySpace had 360 million passwords stolen from accounts created before June 2013, one of the most significant password breaches of all time.
Fling also had data stolen from it, including email addresses, plain text passwords, usernames, IP addresses, dates of birth, and even sexual preferences. This information dates back to 2011 and has been sold on the internet for more than $400. This kind of information is the perfect bait to make you cave to an extortionist’s demands.
Where to Make Your Digital Brand Footprint
While there can be many dangerous problems from creating a digital brand footprint, there are still many benefits to having one. This is especially true if you keep control over it.
There are a few places to put your brand to have a positive digital brand footprint.
This is where we ultimately want customers to find us and what we want them to accomplish while they’re there. This can include your social media accounts.
This is where your brand purchases impressions or interactions online.
These are your digital beachheads that your brand has either built or con-coveted and their relative traffic.
This is where all of your hard work begins to pay off. Your earned media is the current means, volume, sentiment, and substance of consumer brand mentions.
You’ll have to put in a bit of work to make sure your brand is healthy. This means you need to monitor your visitation, interaction levels, audiences, interconnectivity, and update frequency.
How to Have a Bigger Digital Brand Footprint
If you’re looking for digital brand success, you may be frustrated with a smaller footprint. These tips will help you to grow exponentially.
Have an Active vs. Passive Branding Strategy
Creating your positive digital brand footprint will take time, effort, and planning. You will need to make sure that all of your content is enticing to your customers so that they will interact with you and be part of an engaging conversation.
If you want to become an active participant in creating your digital brand footprint, you’ll need to seek out top influencers in your industry. Offer your voice and opinion on their content and use tagging or hashtags to get their attention, and the focus of their followers.
Keep an Eye on Your Content
Your content is an essential way to learn, connect with others, and increase your credibility. Your digital media plan should be full of high-quality content that will tell a genuine story about your company.
In 2017, short video content was the best for consumer engagement, a trend that is looking to continue through 2018.
Adding highly noticeable and aesthetically pleasing graphics can also boost your engagement levels. Be sure to tell your story in a variety of ways that are tailored to the type of media that is expected on each social media platform you are posting on.
Your best content can be spliced, edited, and repurposed for a variety of uses and audiences. Just one viral video can significantly boost your digital brand footprint overnight.
Monitor Your Digital Brand Footprint
Even with all the planning, creating, sharing, and engaging on social media, you still won’t be able to see significant results without monitoring your digital brand footprint.
While the traditional work of marketers has been to observe the number of followers or subscribers to gauge your success, nowadays brands need to focus on engagement activities. The number of likes, comments, and mentions your brand gets is more important than how many followers it has.
You can also use free tools like Google News Alerts to monitor how often your brand is being discussed by others online. Google Search can even track specific date ranges to see any new media mentions of your brand.
While having a digital brand footprint can be a scary thing when considering hackers, having a digital presence is necessary for any brand. Without internet activity, your followers won’t know how to contact you. You also won’t be easily found by new followers. This can spell brand death. Be smart and be active. This will ensure that you leave a positive digital brand footprint for your followers to see.
What digital brand footprint mistakes have you seen?