Six months ago I began to establish my digital footprint on the internet. This footprint included making my presence known on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Ziggs, Zoom Info and starting my own blog.
So off I went. I read and typed and typed and read and then typed some more. I participated in webinars, listened to experts and talked to people all with the goal in mind that if I was going to get involved I would try to do it right. Six months into this experiment there is no turning back and what I’ve learned I thought may be useful to those now jumping in.
Here are my general observations.
1. A digital footprint is a lot of work to establish and takes a lot of work to maintain. Think consistency. Across every portal you need to appear to be the same person. Differentiate your common name if needed (like mine is mikehartcxo) and stick with it. Think Google Search. If someone searches your name you want all of your portals to come up. I suggest you also use the same avatar for photo recognition.
2. The value of your digital footprint is intangible. Until you derive something tangible – a contact, a lead, a job, money – from your footprint you will continue to wonder if the effort is really worth it. I can’t answer that for you, but in the age of social media think about the opportunity cost of not being in the social mediosphere.
3. The quality of your of digital footprint depends on the quality of your network. The quality of your network will drive the content generated by your footprint. LinkedIn relies on contacts, Twitter on followers and Facebook on friends. If you don’t want it all to turn into a bunch of garbage you need to manage your network accordingly. This is time consuming, but worth it.
Here is what I have learned about the major social portals I use.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the professional directory for putting your best foot forward. If you have ever thought about using a coach or resume writer this is the place to do it. Have them help establish your profile and make it relevant. Establishing your contacts is up to you, but remember quality when someone requests to add you to their network.
And speaking of quality, one of the issues I have with LinkedIn involves discussion groups. I have not found them very useful, in part, because they are too large and aren’t managed very well. There are exceptions, but as of now finding the good ones is a matter of trial and error.
Tip: Make use of your status updates several times per week. Don’t worry about the literal translation of “what you are working on now”. Use it to deliver information to your network. Each time you update your status your network will be notified. You will appear active and engaged.
Facebook – I use Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family. Many do set up Facebook for business purposes, but I prefer to have one place that is personal. I am more connected with my nieces and nephews that I have ever been and I have been able to reconnect with long lost high school and college buddies. Facebook has its place and for me it is personal.
Tip: If you have a friend who is a hyper-poster you can always hide them from your news feed. You can then go to their wall to get caught up on their activities.
Twitter – I began tweeting with no particular objective in mind. It can become addicting and it reminds me of my first Blackberry pager back in 2000 – always looking at the damn thing as if the world would stop if I didn’t see an email post. Tweets can have the same affect on you.
I have found the most useful aspect of Twitter is that those I follow bring me interesting articles, blogs and websites that I may never have found myself surfing the web. To limit those topics of little interest focus on who you are following.
Thus, I pay more attention to whom I follow than to my followers. The one exception is that I am diligent in looking at the profiles of my followers as they appear and will block any sketch characters. Those I follow can be categorized as business related, social media related, geographically local and other interesting people I come across that provide comic relief. I’ve pretty much unfollowed the news feeds because I’m really not interested in reading the tape throughout the day. I’m more interested in the people aspect of Twitter and the more personal interaction.
After six months I follow about 130 people and and have 180 followers. It is not uncommon for others to have thousands of followers, but unless you are a service provider or are trying to generate income through the web, following thousands or having thousands of followers is unmanageable in my opinion.
Tip: Find and follow authors of respected social media blogs. The social media space is expanding quickly and now that you are part of mediosphere you need to keep up with it. Let Twitter bring it to you.
My Blog – I started blogging about 2 months ago. I first tried it out in the Notes section of Facebook and got some feedback from my friends before I established CXO Footnotes on Word Press. I enjoy writing and have opinions I like to share (just ask my kids), so blogging appeared to be a natural outlet for me.
At the moment, I am not focused on being an expert in any one particular area. Many agree this is a cardinal sin in the blogosphere. Maybe so, but I view my blog as nothing more than an informed opinion that may help a reader to gain another perspective. Perhaps I’ll become more subject focused over time, but for now I’m just focused on content. My blog is a work in progress.
Tip: There are several websites with free blog publishing tools that make it very easy to begin. WordPress.com and Blopgspot.com are just two of them. Tumblr.com claims to be somewhere between microblogging and blogging so check that out too.
I’ll update how things are going in the next few months.