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Digital footprint – taking control of your business’ online identity

With a new year comes another swathe of predictions for the online and digital landscape. Here is one more: companies will start thinking about their digital footprint. Well, they should.

The term 'digital footprint' has been around for a while with customers becoming increasingly aware of the online trail they leave behind. Predominately in terms of personal data and the subsequent privacy issues this leads to. Yet, while this term is prevalent in the consumer sector, in the B2B space the notion of a digital footprint takes an equally, if not arguably more important role, albeit one that often remains comparatively understated. We hear a lot about businesses needing to be ‘digital’, but being digital is not the same as ensuring a positive – and secure – digital footprint. Just because you are online and searchable, it does not mean that your enterprise’s virtual identity is represented as you would like it to be or even as you think it is.

By way of a definition, businesses should acknowledge their digital footprint as the way in which they are perceived online as a result of their activity across the internet – whether passively without the owner’s knowledge or actively through proactive information sharing. This is through owned assets such as media content, websites and social media channels, as well as information that is produced about them by customers and commentators, such as the media and industry analysts.

For companies, a digital footprint is playing an ever increasing part in their global sales and marketing strategies, and it should be considered as the virtual biography of their business. Similar to an organisation’s reputation in industry, its online footprint acts as its digital calling card – a way in which consumers and the industry perceive and interact with the organisation.

With the growth of the internet, the amount of information shared and left online has sky rocketed. Increasingly, this is taking the form of rich media content as opposed to the text based information of the web’s early years. Forbes recently published its digital media forecasts for the upcoming year and among them was: mobile to dominate desktop; video advertising on the rise; and the internet of things expected to keep growing. It is quite clear that all things digital will continue to surge.

As the internet has evolved, so too have the most popular digital mediums, with video the fastest growing, expected to make up 74 per cent of mobile internet traffic by 2017 (Syndacast). It is therefore essential that businesses tailor their digital content creation in preparation for this, namely in the production of more video content to deliver information. However, this increased video content, and in turn a company’s digital footprint, brings with it extra risks and opportunities, particular in relation to its passive profile.  As a result it is essential that businesses are able to protect and manage their rich media content such as video and, in turn, use these assets securely to shape their digital footprint and online identity.

As I see it, the three absolute ‘must dos’ to help protect any business’ digital footprint are:

  1. Security and protection – make sure your content is protected at all times through granular access controls.

  2. Branding – make sure your brand profits from your content – after all you’ve done all the work. Showcase content inside a customised, branded portal experience.

  3. Future proof – if you are choosing media management software, make sure it supports a large range of file types so you aren’t stuck with unsupported files you cannot use in different pieces of software. Importantly, make sure you have the right systems and infrastructure in place that will allow you to keep expanding your rapidly growing collection of media data.

Done well, video will bring companies clear upside, but those taking the more passive approach should be cautious as there is no doubt cyber security will remain a hot theme for 2016. Let’s hope more enterprises start to understand the impact of their video.