What is a “Digital Footprint” and why would you want one?
The phrase is used to reference a few things:
1) A.K.A. Digital Shadow (see NetLingo) – An individual’s trail left behind from their usage of electronic devices i.e. internet, TV, mobile phone, etc… that can be used to study your online behavior (one of the justifications many people will use for staying off social media sites liked Facebook and LinkedIn). Click to Wikipedia article
2) What a person would find out about you from searching online. For most of us that would entail a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook account, maybe a MySpace page and possibly some recent donations you made in the online copy of your Alma Matter’s yearly publication. Read how Kendra Reddy from the Financial Post describes using someone’s “digital footprint” to gather additional information before a job interview. Financial Post Story: How Revealing Is Your Digital Footprint.
3) Lastly – when it comes to a company’s digital footprint, the phrase is used to describe how far of a reach your company has online. For example, when you Google your company’s name, how much comes up? What can a potential consumer or client find out about you online before deciding to do your business with you or your company.
This last definition leads into the answer for “Why would you want one?” – without one, the potential customer is increasingly apprehensive about your company when they initiate the call, IF they call. Many consumers now are choosing to research a company’s digital footprint before deciding who to give their business to. Does the company have a Facebook page? Are the things they’re supporting in line with what I support? Do they represent themselves in a fashion I would find appealing as a consumer? Does it look like they started a blog, a Facebook presence, a Twitter account, but then gave up on the messaging? Is that an indicator the company isn’t organized, they don’t know how to manage their time, and they may be spreading themselves too thin without giving more thought to a marketing strategy?
Now that consumer behavior has evolved to consider a company’s online presence in their decision making process, your company should not only have a large digital footprint, but your online presence should have a strategy, a focus and consistent targeted messaging.