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Digital footprint – What they are and how to manage yours

by Casey Schmidt  |  October 12, 2019

3 min. read
A picture of a digital print.

Most people either don’t know what a digital footprint is, or they are worried about their digital footprint. This article addresses both, giving good information to make sure you understand it completely and learn how to manage it better.

What is a digital footprint?

A digital footprint is traceable data created from your internet use. Your digital footprint is unique and includes all digital communications and activities you partake in. This includes data you give to websites, emails you send and pages you build.

An example of a digital footprint is a post you make on a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook. This post is now part of your digital trail. Your trail grows as you interact more online. For example, when you visit a website or fill out a digital form.

Why is digital footprint important?

A digital footprint is very important because it makes up who you are when you’re online. It is a construct of your reputation and personality, which affects things like career prospects, dating and anything else that judges character.

A picture of a digital foot floating above a mobile device.
A digital footprint defines who you are online.

We spend increasing amounts of our time online so it makes sense to present similarly to how we present offline. Just as it’s very hard to rectify big mistakes offline, it’s difficult as well online. Keep this in mind when sending emails, communicating on social media or making blog posts.

Is your digital footprint permanent?

Yes, your digital footprint is permanent. Every time you do something online, it’s stored forever. Even if you delete a post, what you typed has already been saved. The reason this happens is because of how easy it is to store data rather than delete it.

This probably sparks worry and negative thoughts in a lot of people – we’ve all made mistakes – but it can be a positive as well. Think of all the amazing things you’ve done online. Furthermore, think of how you can continue to make positive contributions. The imprint it makes lasts forever.

A picture of a footprint with binary code inside.
Your digital footprint is permanent so make positive contributions.

How do you create a positive digital footprint?

The first step and most important thing you can do is determine what type of impression you’re trying to put out. This needs to be done before creating new social media profiles or creating a blog. Think of molding your persona with every new online post or communication.

Next, figure out which areas you’d most like to be involved in. Once you determine where to post, form a posting strategy. Use the footprints of others to help build your own. There are plenty of successful people using online spaces to represent themselves. Get ideas based on how they behave online and construct your own plan accordingly. Once you’ve established an online presence, evaluate how your digital footprint would be seen by others. Adjust it if necessary.

Continue to construct your digital footprint with confidence, precision and professionalism. It is always there and you could always be judged by it. Use that to your advantage.