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5 tips to establish your digital identity

Almost half the world has access to the Internet, providing a gateway for small businesses now to enter a global market. It is more important than ever that companies not only have a digital identity, but that it is present and relevant. In many cases, digital identity will affect the success and longevity of a business. Here are five tips to consider when establishing your digital identity or improving your presence through social media platforms.

1. Research platforms
Research the platform (s) you are considering and the primary audience engaged with the platform. User demographics can easily be found for notable platforms. Due diligence in understanding the nuances of each platform is critical to your success. Don’t just know the demographics, you should also be aware of common user trends and behaviors. How often do users log in daily instead of monthly or weekly? How long does the average user stay connected during a single sign-on? When using the platform, what features of the platform are used the most? Are users more attracted to posts, updates, videos, or graphics? The answers to these and other questions will help determine 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, it is highly recommended to explore analytics options to track who and how people are engaging with you or your business. Many platforms will provide a range of analytics free of charge to all users and will have options to improve the type and amount of information tracked. The 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 hot option, that may not be the only purpose for a business to use the app. Some companies will use certain platforms to be strictly informational and serve as one-way communication for their consumers, such as utility companies.

In most scenarios, it’s best not to, but some businesses may choose to link their social media accounts so that the same post appears on multiple platforms. Sounds good in theory, but as you learned in step one, different platforms have different demographics and behaviors. The deliverable must 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 establishing your digital identity. Often times, viewers can see if a post was made from another platform and will choose to disconnect from the content presented.

Expanding the consumer base is another common purpose for establishing a digital identity. Demographics for a specific platform are often easily accessible and can be used to target a new audience of consumers. Businesses will also consider ways to improve public relations through their digital identity. Professional sports teams and organizations can select to highlight their commitment to the community and fans nationally and globally.

3. Voice and content
Once you’ve selected the platforms of your choice, consider their content and voice. The beauty of social media is that it allows people to be tangible and to engage with others. Consider how you want to interact with your potential viewers and consumers. What kind of content should I share and how often? Social media is generally most effective when it happens moments or shortly thereafter. Limited posts or interaction with others will generally lead to a downward trend in followers and engagement.

Social media marketing campaigns and hashtags serve a dual purpose. Both are great ways to drive shareable content and attract new users to your digital presence. The other way it should be used is to conduct market research within the standards or social activity of the platform. Voice is extremely important because it represents your digital personality. Browse your timeline or news source to explore users who have an engaging voice. Consider being informative, diverse in content, and providing a selective amount of individuality. The voice and content should give the illusion that the user interaction is with a person rather than 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 comprehensive development strategy for the success of your business over a long period of time. Digital identity is just one of the many components that make up a brand. Colors, content, voice, shapes, sounds, logos, typography, and a host of other elements are things to consider when establishing your brand and digital identity. Brand recognition is key! Think of the major fast food brands or companies. Regardless of how and where your content is delivered, the viewer or user at some point recognizes the brand, whether by sounds, logos, colors or other characteristics.

5. Be creative
Innovation is almost a necessity for your business success and relevance. As technology continues to advance, so will your company’s digital presence. Consider the comprehensive components, mentioned in steps one through four, which included your digital framework: platform (s), purpose, voice, content, and overall brand. Be open and willing to explore new platforms and options within them to improve 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 haven’t. Being an entrepreneur requires taking a certain amount of risk and therefore establishing a successful digital identity.

Technology is a disruptive behavior that tries to satisfy a desire or a need. It’s no wonder that social media platforms are forever changing. The difficulty as an entrepreneur is identifying which platforms will set global or national trends over time and when it 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 will generally have branding, communications or marketing departments that can better assess which trends are worth engaging with and for how long. Countless individuals and companies will strive to achieve the full potential of their digital identity.

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