By Stacey Piper
Since school starts before Labor Day, we take our end-of-summer beach trip to the Outer Banks in early August. This year with three tween-age girls, the week was filled with floating movie nights in the pool, TikTok dance videos, and crab walks by flashlight. Summer is still in full swing, no hint of fall in the air, but the days will soon get shorter and the evenings will cool down in an unpromised but dependable cycle.
Every time we return to our beach home-away-from-home, I am struck by the constancy of nature juxtaposed with the constant change in our busy lives. While my daughter grows taller than me, explores new interests, and brings new friends into our fold, the ocean continues its pattern, the waves washing away the girls’ footprints, their steps permanent only in photos and a mother’s long memory. My job is to keep up…feeding their bellies, guiding their actions, nourishing their minds.
Your Digital Footprint & Brand Stickiness
As marketers, how do we create footprints that last, impressions that won’t be washed away by the next service, product, or event? Creating and sustaining a memorable brand requires feeding, guiding, and nourishing—establishing and claiming all your digital footprints so that, no matter what shore your clients’ find themselves, they have a path to follow.
Whose Shoes Are in Your Digital Footprint?
In our digital world, you have a digital footprint whether you actively create and manage it or not. If you have employees, there’s a high probability they’re talking about you on Indeed and Glassdoor. Does the shoe fit? To be sure, claim your profiles on these platforms for talent branding and recruitment marketing. Be intentional about your brand on these sites, rather than invisible or reactive. At the very least, it looks unprofessional to not manage these platforms.
These Shoes Are Made for Searching
Search engine optimization (SEO) is alive and well. While fresh and varied content on your company’s website are key ingredients in your page authority and search engine ranking, you need to put other types of footprints into the searchosphere and claim what’s rightfully yours, your business listing in the search engines.
Google My Business and Bing Places appear to the right of search results. Taking ownership of these listings contributes to your digital reputation as a legitimate, validated business, both to the searcher and to the search engine algorithm. You can even post images and content to your business’s feature space, which contributes to your search results ranking. Ultimately you want to be in control of every first impression, and these location profiles factor into your overall digital footprint.
Don’t Go Barefoot
As the girls storm out the door, excited to enjoy our last summer days on the beach, I remind them to put on their flip-flops: “Don’t burn your feet on the hot sand!” On the work front, we may overlook the basics in our rush to get our content and campaigns out the door. Metadata—the behind-the-scenes descriptions and tags in your content and images—provide meaningful page information for the searcher and contribute to your ranking on the search engine results page (SERP).
Make sure you’re following website best practices to make the most of your online portfolio. Your brand delivery is in these foundational details. On-page SEO can move your content to the first page of search results. Be deliberate about utilizing outbound links to relevant resources and cultivate and/or trade for inbound links from partners’ websites to share Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT).
Go Forth & Multiply
You don’t need to be IT savvy to expand the breadth of your digital footprint, multiplying one step into many to increase your visibility. Nicholas Kosar, chief digital consultant for Piper Strategies, says, “The best way to do it is to build multiple types of content out of the same content. A blog becomes a listicle, a listicle becomes a slideshow, a slideshow becomes a video. Audiences consume information in the way they prefer, and when it’s important to them. The more versions of the same content we have, they can also help feed each other.” Follow the 5-3-2 method to distribute your social content in a balanced way: created, curated, and connected.
The Walk of Shame
Even if you’ve been diligent about posting to your website, maintaining a blog, and leveraging social, when is the last time you reviewed your static content? Do your About page, Products & Services pages, and Wikipedia and social profiles still reflect the company you are today? How do you stack up against your competitors digitally? You might be embarrassed by what you find. Schedule a digital audit on an annual basis, and always include it in your marketing plan after your mission and vision have been updated or there has been a major change in leadership or direction.
Keep Those Feet Moving
Look at how far you’ve come from your first digital steps creating a website and setting up your LinkedIn company page. Develop a holistic strategy to leverage your digital footprint in an integrated way. The more interconnected your online mediums are, the more impactful every piece of content will be.