Dictionary Definition: the information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their activity.

GDC Definition: the opportunity to make your mark and be seen and heard by the right people online.

A Digital footprint is often written about in a negative way because of the difficulty in controlling the data trails collected from your actions online, and the inability to delete it forever. My message however is to think more positively and consider it as an opportunity

An opportunity to be found by your customers.

An opportunity to be seen as an expert in your field.

An opportunity to connect with the right people.

For SMBs in a world whether digital media is so ingrained in our daily lives, the opportunity is huge. If everything you do online will be stored somewhere forever for anyone to see -make it good, make it count. If it is relevant and interesting to your potential readers, publish it. If the article you are reading is important to your business, share and comment on it.

I'm not suggesting you throw caution to the wind in all circumstances - you need to act appropriately for your business. Your brand identity is very important so be sure to use the right tone of voice for your audience and create relevant content. So, yes, you need to be cautious and think about what you say and do, but worrying about it too much is the anti-thesis of creativity and authenticity - two things needed for your customers to warm to you and grow relationships. Have a plan to improve your digital footprint, deal with any negative stuff, and move onwards and upwards.

So what can you start actioning to build your digital footprint?

Well, your digital footprint comprises of both active and passive actions carried out online. Things like social media posts, emails, advertising and promoted events count as active, whereas comments on other peoples posts, liking and disliking news articles, responses on group chats, brands followed, businesses linked to your site, and so on, all count as passive.

Here's three ways you can build your digital footprint:

  1. Have a spring clean of what you can control. If you can find it easily, someone else can too. Delete accounts you no longer use, check external links to and from your online properties (e.g. website, social profiles, etc) and review any business listings you appear on and make sure they're correct and up to date. Once you are happy with your individual entities link them together. This helps with your SEO ranking and keeps people engaged with the content you can control and want them to see.

  2. Stay true to your brand in all your online actions. Maintain a consistent voice in your content, posts, comments, emails, advertising ...everything! Use the same language, fonts, images and image styles. This shows you’re authentic and instills trust with your audience.

  3. Keep raising your profile. Don't shy away from putting your brand out there - keep creating content and having a voice online. Google ranks online content against a long list of criteria but generating quality content that’s true to your brand and interesting to your target audience, it stands a good chance of ranking highly being found by the right people.

Make the most of the opportunity - make your mark and be seen and heard by the right people online!