How Deep Is Your Digital Footprint?

When you’re walking on the beach, do you ever see how many footsteps you can get in before the water washes them away? I often wonder how many footsteps we’d be able to see if the tide never rose and the footprints were stuck in the sand forever. What if we were able to see which footprints belonged to who?  We could see the ones that go for morning runs down the shoreline and back, the ones who just walk from their building, lay out in the sun and then walk back, and the ones who play in the sand, building castles and digging trenches all afternoon.

On average, 55 million people go to the beach each year.  That’s 110 million feet walking through the sand, and, depending on how far and how much they walk, that’s millions more footprints.  Every day, 3.2 billion people use the internet. That means the internet is used over one trillion times every year, and everytime someone gets on the internet, they’re leaving digital footprints that can be seen by anyone.

Understanding your digital footprint is important because what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. Your internet history will be available to anyone, anytime! Be sure it is an accurate representation of yourself or your company, and avoid sharing too much personal information.  While it’s hard to hide things from the internet, you can protect yourself with some of the privacy settings built into each media platform. Use these settings to help regulate what information is made public and what stays private.

Engaging with potential clients online is a great way to build a rapport with them before sitting down to talk business.  This is especially helpful in the heavy equipment industry. Sharing images of a processing plant at sunrise, videos of mobile equipment at work in a quarry, and videos of your work, following your favorite vibrating screen and crusher manufacturers on Instagram and Twitter, engaging with others, and simply being active with manufacturers and producers in the mining aggregates industries are some ways to create your social media footprint.  Also referred to as a “digital footprint,” it is defined by the dictionary as “a unique set of digital activities, actions, and communications that leave a data trace on the internet and can identify a brand.”

Is your social media footprint an accurate representation of your beliefs and values? Is it positive or negative? A company’s digital footprint helps viewers and potential customers form their first opinions based on first impressions of a visit to your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social accounts.

What’s the best way to make your social media an accurate representation of your company?

Here are a few simple steps you can take:

1. Googleyourself.

First, see where your social footprint stands, currently.  Google yourself, or your company, and see what comes up. Do you have a common name? Add keywords to your name. For example, “John Smith construction materials sand pit, limestone quarry asphalt concrete producer” Do you like what you see? How far back in time can your footprint be traced? When you’re aware of what your previous posts are like, you can decide to change your future posts or follow your original theme. If you’re pleased with what you find in your search results, stick with that strategy.  If not, it’s time for a change.

2. Delete Inactive Accounts

Maybe you created an account when you first started your business and have since created a new one that you use more frequently, or maybe you accidentally signed up for one and never went back to delete it.  Open accounts that are inactive can create a bit of a mess of search results. Delete these old accounts so current relevant results display.

To delete your duplicate or inactive Facebook page:

  • Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the page
  • Select “manage pages”
  • Select the page you’d like to delete
  • Go to settings on the top right of the page
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the settings page and click the “edit” bottom to the right of “Remove Page”
  • Click “Delete”
  • Save Change

3. Post Relevant,Original Content

When building your online presence, it’s important to post relevant information and stay active on your accounts.  If you find it too hard to keep up with, try narrowing it down to one or two channels. It’s better to have a few solid accounts with quality content than multiple, underdeveloped ones.  

Try using a social media management tool like SproutSocial, Sharp Spring, or Hootsuite. They let you easily schedule posts for months at a time. Once you feel more comfortable with managing your social media accounts, slowly start to add others.

Create content that includes keywords about your niche to build your footprint in the your unique industry space and help you rank better in search engines.  When people search for “safe equipment” or “equipment with easy maintenance,” your posts with those keywords will be easier to find.

Tag other popular accounts in your caption, as well as in the actual picture.  If you align yourself with companies who have already established themselves in the mining or heavy equipment industries, it’s easier for people to find you.

Good, original content can come from your current projects, blog posts about your industry, your core values, and beliefs, behind the scenes stories, and employee accomplishments. Share current news articles and respond to trending topics. To keep things interesting, try using Instagram stories or going live on Facebook. Mix up your feed by occasionally posting videos or gifs instead of just pictures.

Social media use among businesses is becoming more common, so it is important to post a variety of original content that users can engage in, not just broadcast sales pitches.  Ask your audience to like, comment, or respond to your posts by inviting them to share their thoughts and opinions.

4. Be Relatable To Be Shared

When you post things people can relate to they are more likely to comment or share. This is a good way to increase your organic audience reach. Highlight the benefits of your products or services. Explain the real-life value of the engineering and design behind your products.  Talk about the safety mechanics that your products feature and how they can help make the job easier, or save your company money.

When social media first became a tool for businesses, success was measured by your number of followers and likes.  Today, it’s all about engagement. Comments, shares, and mentions are some of the most beneficial engagements because they expose your company to a larger audience.

5. Respond to Negative Feedback

If you receive negative feedback on sites like Twitter and Facebook, you can respond directly to the customer and address the issue in a positive and transparent way. Doing this helps create a positive public voice for your company and shows that you are willing to take criticism and communicate about it. Don’t engage in arguments, but if you must respond to negative feedback, do so in a professional manner.

And keep it positive. Focus on sharing achievements and accomplishments. Avoid posting about hot button topics unless they relate directly to what your company is working on, stands for, or supports.

6. Don’t Buy Likes/Followers

There are a lot of apps that will tempt you to buy a bigger following, which is not an ideal practice when so many of those accounts are inactive and will not engage with your posts. Just keep creating original content that will engage your existing followers and build organic reach. The more engagements that happen on your page, the more traffic you will get.

These simple tips will help you create and maintain a strong social footprint and a positive brand voice that lets you secure the customer loyalty every company desires.