Managing your digital footprint
By guest, May 2 2016 08:00AM
I've spent untold hours writing social media posts for other people and companies online; posts that funnel enquirers to landing pages, posts that attract attention to websites with relevant and trusted advice, posts that publicise PR worthy moments to the local and national press. Now I'm writing some posts that are relevant to me, my interests and my talents, so please don't expect too much...
Here are my top ten tips for managing your own online presence - they apply equally to business owners, marketing professionals, public organisations and private individuals alike - and they should hopefully help us all get ahead on the world wide web:
1. Search yourself
This isn’t just about finding out who you are and what you want from life, though this is a big part of it, but also about knowing where your name appears online and what is being said about you (as well as what you’ve said yourself). You should know what you’ve posted to social media, what comments or reviews other people have made public about you or your business, and know where your name (or your brand) appears in various Google searches.
2. Record your findings
When you search for your name or your brand online, make sure you record where it appears in a spreadsheet – as well as the link, date of publication, author/owner of the content and a note about the context involved – dividing posts that are about you from posts that are about others who share your name. Searching/recording instances of your name or brand appearing online will help you understand how others might perceive you, whether you are applying for a job or building your business, and you should always be aware if you need differentiate yourself from the subjects of a negative story.
3. Identify your USPs
If you find out that another person/company shares your name or has similarities with your brand, then take steps to ensure your online material is easily differentiated with theirs. Think about what makes you unique, and draw attention to this whenever possible. You might not be the only Jane / John Smith, but there will be something you do that all the others don’t: this is your Unique Selling Point, and it should be the focus of your online profiles.
4. Understand your audience
If your friends only want to see horrific images of your last hangover-inducing escapades on social media, then keep posting them (by all means); but think about whether your friends might be your only audience members throughout the rest of your life, then consider adding extra privacy settings that ensure no one else can see anything which might easily be misconstrued down the line.
5. Take negative feedback offline
When you’re commenting on behalf of your business, you need to be especially careful with your posts. Never deliberately alienate your customers; always strive to take complaints offline, or to a private messaging service, and aim to leave a message that shows willing to appease wherever possible (without admitting liability, especially if a serious legal issue is involved). Don’t just ignore trolls, but do have a form response that acknowledges their comment – explain that any issues raised will be investigated thoroughly, and that you will be happy to discuss your findings privately through designated points of contact.
6. Own your profiles
If there is a profile for you online that you do not control, take ownership of it. This could mean notifying Google that you own the business listed on their Google Places page, and verifying it in the required way. It could also mean auditing the various other people / organisations that share your name, ensuring you have sufficiently differentiated yourself from the others and tailored your content to match your skills / business provision.
7. Own your triumphs and your mistakes
If you do something right, take credit for it: always ask people who give you positive feedback if you can attribute their comments accordingly – this could be a pleased customer or an impressed colleague / peer – because their praise belongs to you, even if it’s unsolicited, and you need to own it whenever you can. If you do something wrong, then you need to try to put it right: if you can find a way of turning negative feedback into a positive result, then this can be just as rewarding as getting it right first time – just make sure you learn from the complaint in your future dealings and incorporate safeguards into your processes if required.
8. Encourage sharing
When you create something great, ask your contacts to share it – assuming you aren’t bound by an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and that the sharing of a thing will not reduce its worth. If you’ve created something great but are bound by an NDA, then ask for testimonials from your clients. If you’ve created something great and it’s a piece of art then let people know where they can view it in its entirety, or get a copy of their own, and encourage them to share this information. Remember that images and other rich-media are more shareable than text, so create/include them whenever you can.
9. Serve your customers
Adopting a good customer service ethic will serve you well in almost every personal and professional capacity you could encounter, unless (of course) you are or become a politician. Acknowledge everyone that engages your services individually, keep them apprised of the status of their query/order (using automation if you have a high customer-turnover), and follow-up with customer feedback surveys whenever you are able to after your transactions are completed.
10. Use what you learn
Create a CRM (Customer Relationship Database) to help you keep up-to-date with your relevant customer/business/stakeholder contacts, and refresh it periodically. Knowing which of your contacts might require your services, especially if your services span numerous industries, is vital if you want to perpetuate your success in business. Make your records as detailed as possible, but stagger your information gathering over time: aim to get names/ emails/ addresses/ phone numbers/ primary interests first, as well as consent to use these details for marketing purposes (you’re more likely to get to consent if you don’t sell to third parties and make this fact very clear at point-of-capture), then gather more details with subsequent efforts. Monitor everything you do and record this data continuously, to help inform all of your future marketing efforts.