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In today’s data-driven society, the term “digital footprint”, which refers to the trail of information that is left behind on the internet and social media, has become an increasingly common part of our vocabulary.
And although it is often associated with personal information, it is also crucial for businesses to consider the trail of data that they leave online, and how this reflects their brand.
When potential candidates prepare to interview for a graduate job at your company, they won’t just be looking at your website - it’s also a given that they will also search your business online to find more information.
Once you discover how your business is viewed online, it’s easy to make sure that when graduates search your company, their results give them the right impression.
Your business’ digital footprint is made up of a combination of 'active' and 'passive' trails – and both will shape your online reputation in equal part.
Your active footprint is the impression of marketing material you have sent out, your social media presence, and your online behaviour – including others’ posts you have liked and shared, pages you have followed, and even the sites or profiles you have visited.
Your passive footprint, on the other hand, is the stamp that is created by clients, customers, or previous employees when they speak about your business online. This will often materialise in the form of Yelp and Glassdoor reviews, client testimonials, and mentions on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.
But in order to manage your digital footprint, you will first need to analyse what it says about your business.
The most effective way to assess how others see your company online is to follow the steps that they would take to find this information.
Begin by searching yourself on Google. Use incognito mode to disable your own browsing history and web cache, and you’ll be able to view the results that people would see when they search your business, rather than targeted results.
And don’t forget about social media. Review your company's social media channels, and every piece of content that you have posted on them - do all of them still accurately reflect your business?
Most social media sites also give you the option to see how your profile or page is viewed by the public – so you’ll be able to assess what your organisation’s online presence really says about your business.
Once you know how you look online, it’s easy to create a strategy to manage your digital identity and ensure that it’s a positive reflection of your business.
Your active footprint, by nature, is much easier to control, so start by organising and consolidating the material you have previously posted online – on blogs, on social media, and on your own website.
If a piece of content you have posted is irrelevant to your brand, says something inaccurate or unfavourable about your company, or is very outdated – consider deleting it. Because if you wouldn’t want a potential candidate to see something you have posted when they search for your business, it might be better that it’s not online at all.
Moving forward, keep creating plenty of great content – you’ll want this to be the first thing candidates see when they search your business online, so it’s essential that it’s also a positive reflection of your company.
It can be frustrating to see that clients, customers, or previous employees have left a negative review of your business online - but taking the time to appropriately address the criticism can actually be a great reflection of your company.
If you’re looking to hire graduates, this will indicate to them that you not only have first-rate customer service, but that you genuinely care about your reputation as a business. In your reply, begin by welcoming the feedback, then thanking the person for taking the time to write it, empathising with their concerns, apologising for the way they feel and finally, suggesting a resolution to the issue.
People are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones – so it’s important to respond to every positive review with your thanks, and a note that you appreciate their feedback. If it’s appropriate, you can even share the review on other social media sites – ensuring that these will be seen by people when they search your business online.
While you can’t control your team members’ online profiles, you can certainly use them to your advantage. Asking your employees to share relevant content on LinkedIn, or requesting that they leave their feedback on working at your company on Glassdoor, can help to boost your reputation as well as strengthen the legitimacy of your online identity.
The best way to encourage positive reviews online is to give ex-employees (or likewise, your clients or customers) a fantastic experience of your business.
Whether this be by offering memorable perks, frequent reviews or catch-ups, a structured training or development plan, or even a great exit interview – you can encourage your employees to leave a great review online by ensuring that they have actually had a great time working for you.
It’s never been more important for organisations to understand their digital footprint, and make sure that it reflects positively on their brand.
By taking the steps to manage your business’ digital footprint, you can ensure that when you hire graduates, potential employees will want to work for your company based on what they find out about you online.