As long as you use the internet, you will leave behind data that is valuable to marketers. It can be sold, bought and used to target the right advertising messages at you. With the prevalence of social media, the way you interact with these platforms becomes the digital footprint that you leave behind.
You leave these digital trails all over the internet. From your employment history to the stores you frequently shop at, other people can find out everything they need to about you without much difficulty. This goes way beyond just the information you add to the profile sections of your social media accounts. You are unintentionally leaving behind a vast trail of data that is being collected continually. This information can tell people far more than what you write in your profile.
How Extensive Is Your Digital Footprint?
Any information you leave behind as a result of your social media activity becomes your digital footprint. It is visible to a massive audience and can be searched and shared by anyone on the internet. When you visit someone’s profile or leave a comment on a photo, data is collected. Similarly adding a product to your cart or clicking on an interesting looking link also reveals information about you.
While this collected data is typically used to sell something to you or to customise your web experience, it can sometimes have more sinister applications. Cases of cyberstalking and catfishing are steadily on the rise, and you should take steps to protect yourself. Remember that the footprints you leave online are irreversible and will always be a part of your history.
Social Media Etiquette
Here are a few ways to avoid the common pitfalls and maintain a positive digital footprint.
Use a Positive, Respectful Tone: A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid posting anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, co-workers or clients to read. This way you’ll keep yourself from posting regretful replies or comments you’ll end up deleting.
Avoid Posting Too Much Information About Yourself: Before you post anything online, take a minute to ask yourself if it is something you truly need to share. Don’t reveal details that can be used against you or impair your safety in any way. Never publish your address, location or compromising photos online. Also, keep an eye on your privacy settings and be aware of any new policies that are introduced on different social media platforms.
Consider Maintaining Separate Profiles: Keeping your professional and personal profiles separate is one way to enjoy a little more freedom with what you post. You can keep your personal profile private and curate your other profile to reflect a professional image.
In today’s age of social media, your digital footprint can paint a clear picture of who you are. It’s up to you to make sure you’re portraying the right image to the world. It’s important to be aware of the kind of trail you’re leaving, no matter what line of work you’re in. Take steps today to manage your online identity and curate your digital footprint.