Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the JPDS Podcast. Today on this podcast, I want to share with you how to leave strong digital footprints for your personal and corporate brand. My name is Ifeanyichukwu Dinwoke. I run Fratee Media, a media agency where we provide digital communication strategies to individuals and organizations that help them gain visibility online and attract more customers.
Why You Need a Strong Digital Footprint
You see, in today’s world where many people that want to do business with you, that want to hire you and contact you for your services, do online checks on you, a smart thing to do is to make sure you don’t leave your digital footprints to chance. By the way, digital footprints are just where your name or your organization’s name is found on the internet.
It could be as simple as social media, a chat forum like Nairaland in Nigeria, or a blog, or can be as big as even a newspaper site. So, you don’t want it to be that when somebody searches for you on the internet, what they find is not what you want them to see.
For that reason, I want to share with you in this podcast how to leave a strong digital footprint, that is, the kind of footprint that gets you the results you want from a prospective client.
Now whether you’re starting out or have reached the height of your career, perhaps you’re a mid-level manager or even a bigger boss in the corporate world, or even in academics like a professor, the reality is that when you want to enter a partnership with people, they do background checks on you. Beyond the recommendation, beyond the referrals that you got, people want to know more about you.
I remember one time I was recommended for a project and some of the people that were supposed to fund that project had to go and do a check on my business. And then that was when I was called upon to make some clarifications and all of that about my business. So, people don’t just depend on referrals, or because you have a fine face or good voice to actually hire you; they want to see what’s up with you. Who is this person? They want to get as much information as they can about you.
Of course, many times they can’t go to your village to ask your village people, they can’t see your classmates ask them. Sometimes they can contact your professor or your colleagues. But in many cases, they don’t, they can’t, or even before they get to that stage, they want first to have an idea of who they are dealing with. And that’s why they do background checks on you. So, it’s crucial you don’t leave what they’re going to find about you to chance.
My goal is not to teach you how to be crooked in the sense that you start giving an impression that you are who you are not. My goal is very simple: I want to help you understand how to actually tell the world who you are so they know you for who you are.
The other part of this discussion is that you may be many things to many people, but just ask yourself what is the dominant image you want to put out about yourself. A case in point is that I am a Sunday School teacher in my church, but it’s not something I’m known for. If you search for me around on the internet, you can’t find traces of the fact that I am a Sunday School teacher.
So, what I want to do for you is, what do you want to leave about yourself on the internet? What do you want to be known for? What do you want to be seen as? Once you define that, the goal of this podcast is to show you how to create a footprint that helps you get discovered for who you are, especially in a manner that makes prospective customers, partners and collaborators want to work with you.
Now there are seven ways you can leave these footprints of yourself on the internet. I’m going just to take them one by one and discuss them. Again, please I need you to pay attention. Towards the end, I can give you an opportunity to ask me a question, send me an email or contact me to talk about this further in case you are confused about any of the points or you want more information. Now let’s get into the ways to leave strong digital footprints.
Become Active on Social Media
One of those ways is social media. Now, social media is not a playground for Gen Z people. It’s actually for everyone. It’s a sneak peek into your personality and thoughts. One of the things it does for you is that it helps people get to know you better, not just for your expertise but the kind of person you are. On my profile, I don’t write Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Dinwoke, (married man). No. You may not find it on LinkedIn. You may not even find a picture of my wife or my child on LinkedIn as an example. But if you check me out on social media, perhaps you will find it.
So, one of the things social media does for you is that it’s a channel where you get to tell people more about yourself, especially things they won’t find in professional platforms. Most professors have their profiles on their university websites. On your university website, they don’t give you a chance to actually put your wife’s pictures, put pictures of your holidays and some of those experiences. So, people don’t know you beyond your academic communication.
What social media does for you is that it gives people a chance to meet you beyond your academic writing, beyond your professional output, beyond your expertise. Now why bother about letting people know this? It humanises you. It helps people know that you are a human being, you’re a normal person. Sometimes, a single post on social media like that can build a connection with a potential partner or reveal a part of you that clears some doubts they have about perhaps people from your country, say Nigeria or people from your expertise.
Sometimes you may be sharing things on social media that just help them understand, oh, beyond this thing we know about Mr. Dinwoke as an example, he’s also like this. So, someone who has this kind of experience or background is just suitable for what we want. So that’s why you don’t leave social media for Gen Z, it’s actually your opportunity to actually lead the world into your thoughts. Do you understand that?
Now I understand that for a lot of people, their problem with social media is that they don’t want to say so much about themselves, they are afraid they may just go and say something that is going to affect them. That’s why I will advise you like this. You don’t have to say everything that comes to your mind. Forget the fact that they will ask you ‘what’s on your mind?’ I don’t tell you everything that’s on my mind. There are things on my mind that are just for my family.
There are things on my mind that should remain on my mind and never go out. So, you don’t have to go on Facebook and tell all your life stories. And I saw a joke recently. Somebody came and said ‘in the 70s, I had an accident, I broke my leg. What am I telling you this? Because in the 70s, there was no social media. And since everybody’s saying this, I’m telling you my own.’ That is not what social media is about. You don’t have to share everything. You have to be deliberate and intentional about what you share. The idea is to let people into your personality, into your life, and then help them better relate with you. That’s the idea.
Now sometimes you don’t have all the time, you are a very busy professional. So how do you post maybe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn at the same time? You could use a tool. There are tools like Planable. You can just Google Planable. It’s software, you can sit down on one day and schedule all your posts for different social media handles and on each of those days, they come out. Do you understand that? Meta suite, of course, meta suite is a Facebook suite, it helps you schedule posts for Instagram and Facebook.
So, you can sit down in one day and write all the content you want to share for a week and put all of them together with a calendar. That app helps you share those content. That’s how you can manage it if you are very busy.
Alternatively, you can hire a social media manager. The idea about a social media manager is that he helps you develop a strategy and a plan for your content. You understand that? So, this person helps you develop a plan and a strategy and then create the content or maybe by interaction with you, or create the content, knowing the kind of person you are and then just observe your life, observe your expertise and create relevant content that can connect with your audience. You understand that? Now that is how you can go about social media in a very simple and easy way if you’re too busy.
Start a Blog
Now, the next point is that you should start a blog. Now a lot of people think blogging is for writers or people who are gossipers. These are two extremes of what a blog is, but none of these extremes is accurate. The truth of the matter is blogging is just a platform to write journals about your thoughts, your opinion, your stories, your ideas and stuff like that. So, a blog is not necessarily for writers.
A blog is for anybody who desires to journal. Think about this. Do you keep journals because you’re a writer? No. You keep journals because you want to keep tabs on your thoughts, you want to document them and have access to them in future. So, start a blog, but this time around you may not be talking about your person, you may not be journaling alone.
On this blog, you demonstrate your expertise. As I said, we’re talking about leaving a digital footprint that helps you get a business, and help you get partnership on topical issues. For example, you’re a professor of economics, help us understand how we can navigate inflation in Nigeria for example. An average Nigerian does not understand why the naira note has to be changed. Why does it have to be changed? What impact does it have? Write about these things and put them out on your blog.
The idea is this: you first educate us, we learn, we bless God, we thank you for teaching us, we get to know you more, and we get to trust you. Those who read you at least know you’re a professor of Economics, you understand what you are doing. They can relate to you. When they are looking for economists in Nigeria, the person is likely to get in touch with you. The other side of the story is that when you want partnership, what we’re looking for when your category, your blog if it is optimised properly, exposes you to people who may never know your name in the first place and when they see the body of work you have done in that area, it can help them understand that oh, this person understands this, has this expertise. It’s more like putting out your CV on a daily basis.
The other thing you can do on your blog is to tell your story. You’re a professional, perhaps an HR professional, and talk about the experiences you have in the course of your job. That’s what you do on your blog. So, talk about how you’re able to solve a particular problem, and how are you able to navigate a difficult situation. Now what this does for you is that you first educate other HR professionals.
The fringe benefit is that when somebody is considering partnering with you in the sense of even hiring you, consulting you or engaging your service in any way, they see a body of the story, a collection of your story and experience that demonstrate the fact that you are not just an HR professional because you have an MBA, you’re an HR professional who understands how to apply the MBA knowledge in real terms. Do you understand? So that’s what a blog does.
Somebody may say, I’m not a writing type. I understand. A lot of bloggers are not the writing type. So, do you know what they do? Voice your thoughts into a recorder as simple as your phone recorder and share it with a professional transcriber who transcribes those thoughts and put subtitles to them and shares them back to him and then he posts them on the blog. So that’s what you can consider doing.
The other thing is that you feel you are not Wole Soyinka. You don’t have to be Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe to be able to write. What you just need to do is that do you know how to put your thoughts together and tell another person. The same way you call your friend and say, let me explain to you what to do when you want to hire a student who has a high academic qualification but is poor in skill.
You see, the first thing you consider is this: You know, that’s how you talk normally, right? And that’s exactly how you write too. Just sit down, open your computer or your phone, assume you are talking to a friend, and talk to that person like that. And once you are done with your point, you have a blog post. Share it, it’s good enough. So, you don’t have to be a Wole Soyinka or Chinua Achebe to write, you just have to know how to talk. And if you can tell stories, the same way you tell engaging stories to your classmates, to your colleagues at work, say, ‘Guys, I have something to tell you today… Write just like that and it would be good enough for your blog. You don’t have to write like those award-winning novels, I mean you’re not Harry Potter for God’s sake, and you’re not hoping to win any awards, you just want to make your point.
Moreover, the kind of content you can put on your blog includes your brand stories and experiences in your business, perhaps you can share case studies with clients, the clients met you and said they have a problem with the accounting in their business, and this is how their accounting is messed up. And they got to you who is an Accounts professional, and then this is how you’re able to solve the problem, you suggested this, they did this and that, and then their problem is over. And this is a testimony from their CEO.
If you write these, put it on your blog, what you’re doing is you’re letting prospective customers and people that want to partner with you in future into your life, and the idea is that they get to know ‘Okay, so this is what you really do for a living.’ They also see how much you do it, and in that single post, you also tell them this is what a CEO of an organization that I have gotten results for has to say about us. It helps you with your credibility as I said earlier. Do you understand that?
Start a Podcast
Now you may say, I don’t just have this thing with writing, but you can at least talk, right? So, start a podcast. Yes. In the past, people think they need complex technical skills to be able to do podcasts. That’s not the case again, this time around, believe me, you can start your own podcast, even if you have very minimal technical skill.
The reason is that apps like Anchor FM have made it easy and possible to just turn on your phone and start talking into an app. It helps you with background music, fading in, fading out and all of those. What you need is an outline, and then you start talking. Do you understand that? So, with that, you can just start your podcast.
As I said, if you are not the writing type, you can talk just as you are talking to your friend. Think about the long voice note you send to a friend to explain a point to that friend. Think about the long voice note you send to your mum to tell your mum the story of your life. That is what you also do when you’re podcasting, just in that same manner, the difference is that while you can tell your mother some fine personal details, you can’t say some of those details to the world. So, think about the details you want to divulge.
Please be careful that when you’re telling your brand story or writing a case study, you don’t share what a customer does not want to share and get into confidentiality breach trouble. You don’t want to do that, right? So please start your podcast and as I said earlier get an app like Anchor FM.
By the way, I’m not saying your technical skill is not good. If you know how to deal or deal with software like Audacity, which is free software, that’s the icing on the cake. If you actually want to add it in, all you need to do is turn on your phone recording and record it, send it to an audio producer who edits it, add your intro and exit, puts your background music and share it back to you.
You can publish it on your own personal website or again on a podcasting platform like Spotify or Anchor FM. Do you understand that? So, that makes the whole podcasting thing easy. You don’t have to have an expensive microphone. If you can afford it, it makes you sound better. But the same voice you use to speak to your friends and they hear you, do voice notes and they hear you, join a Zoom meeting and they hear you, clearly that voice is good enough. And that microphone is equally good enough.
Contribute to Media
Now the next point is that you should contribute to media. Media is a platform where people access information and it’s good you are not found wanting in such platforms. You should give your voice to issues, situations and events. So, when a journalist invites you to be a guest on their programme based on your expertise, don’t shy away from it. Unless you are banned from doing that in your company, please don’t shy away from it.
Go, give your own input, and give your suggestion. Everybody doesn’t have to agree with you. Again, it’s your opinion. That’s what they’re asking for. That’s why sometimes when they want to end their programme they say ‘please remember that these are opinions shared by guests and callers on these programmes and ideas and do not represent our station.’ That is why. So, if they ask for your opinion, please go ahead and give them your opinion.
You know why? When they want to share your opinion, they don’t just to share your opinion, they share your opinion in association with your name and your profession. So, imagine that every day you tune in to a major TV channel in this country, and then you’ll find that every time they want to talk about media, web visibility, media production and all of that, they always say Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Dinwoke who is a media expert, gave this input on this, think about the fact that you hear this twice in a week for one year, my name will become a household name, one.
Number two, even if you see me show up in your business, and I want to do business with you, you will recognize this name, you are not in doubt. You see one of the things with professional services is that one of the first hurdles you have to cross is to prove to your prospective customer you know what you are doing. One of the things strong digital footprints does for you is that it clear that doubt. If you are invited on a TV show, please go ahead. Honour it.
One time in my state, on a radio station that was covering about two or three states in Nigeria, I was a guest for 10 straight weeks discussing digital marketing, digital communication, media strategy and stuff like that. I got so much visibility, I was impressed. It was not about visibility, it’s a win-win; you teach people, you educate people, and then you get known.
Apart from TV, and radio, please contribute articles to newspapers, contribute articles to blogs, and call into radio and TV shows and give your own opinion. You say your name, say what you do and then give your opinion. It helps you to educate people and the ripple effect is that you get visibility in the process. Do you understand that?
Now the next one is that you should get profiled. Gone are the days when you have to sit and then the world will come to look for your story. No, there are a lot of stories to tell. Sometimes you have to go out there and tell your story. Sometimes you have to go out there and let people know that this is what you are doing so they can tell your story. And that is why I’m encouraging you, please get profiled.
Cultivate relationships with journalists that help your story get told; your brand story as a personality and your corporate story as a business. Don’t just leave everything to chance. You can start with blogs, you can start with online media, you can go to traditional media, you can get to newspapers, radios, and TVs but don’t leave things to chance. Again, of course, once you want to do this, you have to come up with a strategy for it. It’s not just about being profiled, you have to be profiled in a way that really shows clearly what you are doing in a way that attracts prospective partnerships, customers and all of that. Do you understand that?
Write a Book
Now the next point is that you should write a book. Now writing a book, a lot of people assume, is for university professors. But that’s not the case. It’s for everyone who has a story to tell, an idea worth sharing or a unique perspective on an issue. So, if that is the case with you, please, by all means, write a book. Now some persons, they think, ‘Ah, I cannot read a book o, I don’t even have much to say. It’s just going to come to about 60 pages or 100 pages or so.’
What makes a book is not the volume, what makes a book is the quality of content shared in that book. And I’m telling you as a matter of fact that if you have something useful to see, you should not shy away from sharing it because you think it’s not voluminous enough. The reason is that it’s the solution that I can get from your book that matters not how long it took me to read the book.
So, write. It’s about the impact not about volume. And again, if you think the cost is a concern for you, please consider digital publishing. Traditional publishing may be very expensive so consider digital publishing, it makes a lot of sense. Sometimes you can even write a short book and put it out there for free. The idea is that, let people know the solution you can provide for them. Serve them for free.
I mean, think about an Aboki that’s selling suya on the streets. If you don’t know whether his suya is good, he uses his knife and slices a small piece of suya and gives you to taste. He usually dips it in kwuili kwuili… I’ve had this experience going from Enugu to Kano when we stop over in Abuja. Oh God, once you taste it, you’re hooked. So, the same thing applies when you’re professional, allow people to have a taste of what your business can offer. And one way to do this is write content and put it out there and perhaps give it for free for the first time.
The idea is that once you have a book to your name, one of the things it does to you is it gives you credibility that helps people feel safer and more comfortable partnering with you. Do you understand that? Like I said, you don’t have to publish and print, you can just do digital publishing. The other thing is that if you are too busy to write or you think writing is not your thing, please just write the way you talk and that is fine. If you are too busy to even write the way you talk, you can just talk into a voice recorder, share with a transcriber who transcribed and put your book together.
One of the books I have written was I didn’t intend to write the book, I just wanted to teach something to young ladies and then I ended up sharing a voice note to someone who does transcription, the person transcribes, sends my stuff back to me and I have about sixty-something page small sized book. That’s how it works. So, you can explore that option but by all means you have to write.
Get a Website
Now the final point I want to make about getting visibility is to get a website. When you search your name on Google now, you may find something, you may find your social media handle. Search your business name, and you may find a social media handle, find one news report about you, find stuff like that, but many times they are unorganised. Now, the first ten items that come up when your name is searched on search engines may not even be the most important, they may not be the best things about you, it’s just what Google decide to show up. And what they show up many times does not necessarily reflect the most important information, it’s usually the most optimised website that they show up.
What a website does for you is that it helps you take control of your visibility. It’s not likely that a website bearing your name, or company will not be on the first 10 pages, if not the first item when searched on search engines. If you hire a good web designer who actually designs your website well, and does on-page optimization for your website, what it does is that once your name is searched on Google, it’s going to come out tops.
So, here’s what the website does for you: For every piece of information I’ve talked about your brand, you put everything together in one place so they can find you. If you are a professor, for example, I shouldn’t be looking for your most important papers, your intervention in a crisis situation in your country, your partnership with the government and all of that. What a website does for you and all of that is that it shows me your profile, shows me your CV, shows me pictures from your events, your interventions and things like that you’ve done, even a session of it can even be where you humanize yourself, putting picture about your family, your events, your community participation, and stuff like that.
It gives you a lot of latitudes to express yourself to the fullest. show who you are, and control your story. It’s just like giving somebody the book of your life and saying open this book. So, as they click on different sections of your website, they get to every part of your book and even a means of contacting you. Do you understand? The same thing applies to a business, that’s for a corporate brand. Having a website is no longer a luxury, it’s not for the big boys. It’s no longer optional these days, it’s actually a sine qua non for controlled visibility for your personal or corporate brand.
That is a matter of fact. So, when you get a website that’s properly optimised, whenever people search your name or your company name, you come up. In some cases, even without searching your name, they just search people who are in the area of life you operate. I gave the example of economics before. If you’re an economist, a business development analyst or a web designer, when they search for web designers in Toronto, web designers in Enugu, or web designers in England, you’re likely to pop up. When they search for things like… especially if your website is optimised for that keyword. So, with that, even people who don’t know your name, want your services, want your expertise, want your professionalism to get to know you, and they partner with you.
Now I’m going to recap what I’ve said so far as I round off. The point I’ve made, number one is that you should have control over your visibility online. And the way to do it is to go online and create strong digital footprints.
The first step is to have social media accounts on major social media platforms and regularly update content there. Start a blog where you share your story, ideas and viewpoint. Then if you can’t blog, just start podcasting, you don’t need technical skills to do that. You just need to be able to open your mouth and talk and then hire a technical person to do the editing and packaging for you.
Don’t shy away from contributing to media in the form of columns and being a guest on radio and TV. And then get yourself profiled on media, traditional media, new media whether blog, news report, TV or radio or even a podcast. And then go ahead to write a book. You don’t have to have all the expertise to write a book. And then finally, get yourself a website. These days getting a website is not such a complex thing.
If I design a website for you, I optimise your website for the keywords you want. I show you how to even manage it if you don’t want to incur costs managing your website. And then even if you have to hire someone to do this, the cost is very small compared to the amount of value you get from these services. I hope you get the point I’ve made.
So please go ahead, go on creating content that helps you leave a digital footprint and the assignment I have to give you before you even get started is what do you want to be known for? Write it down first. So, every content you create, every footprint you put on the internet should be pointing people to that person you are, should show people who you are, what you do, what you can do and how you can be of service to them. I think that is how to create strong digital footprint for your brand.
Once again, my name is Ifeanyichukwu Dinwoke. I run a media agency called Fratee Media where we provide digital communication strategies and services for corporate and personal brands. Now, if you have a question based on any of these points I explained or need further clarification from me. I’ll be glad to help. You can get in touch with me by mail through email@example.com or across social media, you can find me @ijinwoke.
Joseph Ifeanyichuwku Dinwoke is a marketing communication professional who brings his web & graphic design, media buying, copywriting and content marketing competencies to helping individuals and organizations design marketing strategies and sales funnels that help sell their brands. Since 2014 when he founded Fratee Media, he designed 27+ websites, published 14+ books and served 13+ brands. In the course of his Masters Degree in Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, he volunteered as a rapporteur for the JPDS. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org and found across social media as @ijdinwoke.