Nearly half the world has internet access, which provides a gateway for small businesses to now enter a global market. It is more important than ever before that businesses not only have a digital identity, but one that is present and relevant. In many cases, the digital identity will impact the success and longevity of a business. Here are five tips to consider when establishing your digital identity or enhancing your presence via social media platforms.
1. Research Platforms
Research the platform(s) you are considering, and the primary audience engaged with the platform. User demographics can be easily found for notable platforms. Due diligence in understanding the nuances of each platform is integral to your success. Do not simply learn about the demographics, you should also learn about the common trends and behaviors of the users. How often do users login daily versus monthly or weekly? How long does the average user stay logged in during a single sign-in? When using the platform, what features of the platform are used most? Are users more drawn to posts, updates, videos, or graphics? The answers to those questions and others, will assist in determining when a platform is appropriate for your business or personal brand, as well as how you can use the platform to its full potential.
Once a platform is chosen, exploring analytics options to track who and how people are engaging with you or your business is highly recommended. Many platforms will provide a range of analytics for free to all users, and have options to enhance the type and amount of information tracked. Free analytics, provided by the platform are robust in the information provided to users.
2. Know Your Purpose
While the platform may be a current trendy option, that cannot not be the sole purpose for a business to utilize the application. Some businesses will use certain platforms to be strictly informational and serve as one-way communication to their consumers, like utility companies.
In most scenarios it is in the best interest not to, but some businesses may choose to link their social media accounts, so that the same post will appear on multiple platforms. It sounds good in theory, but as you learned in step one, different platforms have varying demographics and behaviors. The deliverable needs to be presented in a way that resonates with users and aligns with the trends or behaviors of the platform in use. The appearance of being present and in the moment, is integral to the establishment of your digital identity. Often, viewers can see if a post was made from another platform and will choose to disengage with the content presented.
Expansion of consumer base is another common purpose for establishing a digital identity. The demographics of a specific platform are typically easily accessible, and can be used to target a new consumer audience. Businesses will also consider ways to enhance public relations through their digital identity. Professional sports teams and organizations may select to highlight their engagement with community and fans domestically and globally.
3. Voice and Content
Once you have selected the platform(s) of choice, consider your content and voice. The beauty of social media is that it allows people to be tangible and engage with others. Consider how you want to interact with your viewers and potential consumers. What type of content should you share and how often? Social media generally is most effective as moments are happening or shortly after. Limited posts or interaction with others generally will lead to a downtrend in followers and engagement.
Social media marketing campaigns and hashtags serve a dual purpose. Both are great ways to drive content that can be shared, and attract new users to your digital presence. The other way it should be used is to conduct market research within the norms or social activity of the platform. Voice is extremely important because it represents your digital personality. Explore your timeline or news feed to explore users that have an engaging voice. Consider being informative, diverse in content, and providing a selective amount of individuality. Voice and content should give the illusion that user interaction is with a person instead of an office or corporation.
4. Brand Alignment
Purpose, voice, content, and platform(s) of choice should align with your overall brand. Your brand is a holistic development strategy for the success of your business over an extended period. Digital identity is just one of the many components that comprise a brand. Colors, content, voice, shapes, sounds, logos, typography, and a host of other elements are all things that should be considered when establishing your brand and digital identity. Brand recognition is key! Think about major brands or fast food companies. Regardless of how and where their content is delivered, the viewer or user at some point recognizes the brand, whether it be by sounds, logos, colors, or other features.
5. Be Creative
Innovation is almost a necessity for the success of your business and its relevance. As technology continues to advance, so will your business’ digital presence. Be mindful of the integral components, mentioned in steps one through four, which comprise your digital framework: platform(s), purpose, voice, content, and overall brand. Be open and willing to explore new platforms, and options within them, for the betterment of your business. Regular evaluation of your digital identity is essential to ensure that it is consistent and relevant to current standards. Explore effective ways to engage with your viewers and consumers that your competitors have not. Being an entrepreneur requires taking a certain amount of risk, and so will establishing a successful digital identity.
Technology is disruptive behavior that attempts to satisfy a want or need. It is no wonder that social media platforms are forever changing. The difficulty as an entrepreneur is identifying which platforms will set global or domestic trends over time and when that will happen. In my experience, small businesses and numerous entrepreneurs struggle to establish their digital identity, especially as popular trends change over time. Large companies generally will have branding, communications, or marketing departments that can better assess which trends are worth committing to and for how long. Countless individuals and businesses will struggle to reach the full potential of their digital identity.