Measuring and Managing Your Brand’s Digital Footprint
If you want to maintain control over how internet users view your brand online, it’s crucial to understand your digital footprint and how to manage it.
A lot of companies subscribe to the “move fast and fix it later” philosophy, and while this approach can help to ignite forward momentum for younger companies, it can wreak havoc on a brand’s digital footprint. You don’t want prospective clients today seeing the mistakes you made yesterday, especially in conversations or content you’ve long forgotten. So, it’s crucial to understand your own footprint and manage it effectively.
What is a digital footprint?
In short, your brand’s digital footprint is the trail it leaves behind as a result of its traceable activities and communications on the internet. It is comprised of active and passive footprints, both of which shape your online reputation.
- Active digital footprint: Your brand’s active digital footprint refers to any online material or activity that was deliberately released by your company. This includes your website, marketing materials, social media presence, blog posts, videos, etc.
- Passive digital footprint: Your passive digital footprint, on the other hand, refers to the impression that is created by others when they talk about your company online. This often manifests itself in the form of social media mentions, customer testimonials, and Yelp or Glassdoor reviews.
Since a company’s digital footprint is the culmination of the online traces that it permanently leaves, whether directly or passively, those echoes cannot be neglected. Prospective customers will evaluate your online presence — recent and forgotten — before making purchasing decisions, and potential job candidates will critique it before deciding if employment with you is the right call.
In today’s world, your online reputation is more vital than ever. It is critical that your company understands its digital footprint and has a plan for managing it.
5 steps to measure your company’s digital footprint
The first step to managing your digital footprint is to audit your current standing. Review and analysis are critical, and these are a few ways to get started:
Check the search engines: Type your company name into the major search engines and evaluate the results. Is your website the first search engine result, or are social media and review sites the first to appear?
Examine your messaging: Look at your content and review your messaging. Do you notice any old branding or incorrect information still out there? Is your messaging consistent? Do your website, blogs, social media pages, and advertisements sound alike?
Review your standing: Check out the sites that mention your company and pay close attention to how they talk about you. How are your ratings? What are people saying about you? Are internet users experiencing your brand the way you want them to?
Compare reality to intention: Define how you want online users to feel when they come across your brand’s name and compare that to your current online standing. Do they align?
Revisit your tracking method: If you are currently tracking what is being said about you online (which you should), is your data collection and analysis tool working correctly? When you look, do you find any important third party mentions they missed?
These steps will help you gauge what others see when looking for your business online, but how do you manage that perception and position yourself in the most positive light?
How to manage your company’s digital footprint:
Once you know how you’re represented online, it’s time to create a strategy to manage your digital footprint and ensure your brand is portrayed in the best possible light. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- Actively check reviews: Create a list of third-party sites where users review your business and check them regularly. Do your best to respond to each comment promptly and respectfully. When you come across a complaint or poor review, apologize for their less-than-stellar experience and provide your customer service information.
- Consolidate your social media presence: It can be tempting to have a presence on every new social platform but spreading yourself too thin makes it difficult to monitor and manage those sites. Do an audit of your current social media sites and pair it down to those that strictly appeal to your target customers. That way, you can narrow your focus and engage your audience with targeted pieces of useful content.
- Inspire positive reviews: Employees are an important voice box for your brand. If you want to inspire positive employee reviews, give them the best working experience you can. Exceptional professional experiences will help boost your ratings on sites like Glassdoor, and they will permeate into the customer experience and subsequent business reviews, as well.
- Content strategy: Having a plan for when and where you release new content will allow you to stay on top of public engagement. It will also help you to maintain a consistent voice and tone throughout your campaigns, and help you create and achieve a clear set of content goals.
- Be a thought leader: One of the best ways to effectively manage your online footprint is to position yourself as an expert in your industry in a myriad of places. Think about being a guest blogger for other reputable websites or partnering with well-known influencers. The goal is to share your voice and message with new audiences, and the trick is the give more than you get.
When it comes to your brand’s digital footprint, you want to remain proactive and make sure it stays within your control. Understand your current online standing, create a strategy for managing your online reputation moving forward, and continually analyze and adjust your tactics to build the bulletproof online reputation you brand deserves.
Need help getting a handle on your brand’s digital footprint? Drop us a line.