our world has undeniably gone digital. The pace at which technologies and innovations are arriving is accelerating and they are changing how we live. New technologies ranging from social media to the internet have brought a great deal of change to our world. It is axiomatic that the effective use of the internet has become an invaluable tool for building brand awareness and growth in modern businesses, as it provides a platform for marketing oneself, products and services, and engaging customers.
Networking, building a personal brand and promoting a business in today’s technology and internet savvy world requires having a digital or online presence. The need for a digital presence was made obvious by the outbreak of coronavirus when physical meetings were restricted and lockdown was enforced. The realities of the COVID19 pandemic have forced so many persons and businesses to rethink and re-strategise their personal brands and business models. During the lockdown, many businesses including banks, network providers, SMEs, and even vendors relied heavily on their digital presence to engage new and existing customers.
Hence, there is no gainsaying that having a good digital presence has emerged as a primary route to survival and growth of personal brands and business.
What is a digital presence?
When people hear about a digital presence, what immediately comes to their mind is the presence of a business on the internet. However, this is just one side of a digital presence. There are essentially two categories of digital presence which are; a business digital presence and a personal digital presence.
According to websurge.com, a business digital presence simply refers to how your business appears online. It is what people find when they search for your business or company on the internet.
Assuming someone searches your name on Google, or any other search engine, what they find is simply your personal digital presence. Personal digital presence, therefore, is made up of so many varied components and can be summed up as the impression you or your brand makes online through content, website, social media, search engines, and other digital media and platform.
Generally, a digital presence, whether business or personal, is the online representation of a person, business, or some other entity on the internet. It helps people to easily connect with you virtually, when they search for you or your business on the internet.
It is important to understand that personal brands or businesses do not have complete control of their digital presence. While owned digital presence is what you want people to know about you or your business, earned digital presence includes areas outside of your control, such as the conversation about your brand or business on social media and online reviews. Therefore, while being on the internet is good, one must make sure that he has a good online impression.
Building a digital presence
According to spinxdigital.com, a digital presence can be established by creating online website (personal or corporate), using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc), business listing, participating in online question-answer sites (Quora, Stack Exchange, Yahoo Answers etc), and local directory listing.
How my digital presence has influenced my life positively
Firstly, my presence on social media platforms, especially twitter and facebook, has positively influenced my life by keeping me abreast of the happenings in the country. This is evidenced by the number of print and broadcast media accounts I follow on these platforms. A 2020 survey by an independent, Africa-based research organization, Afrobarometer, which found that 35% of Nigerians are using some social media service to get news at least a few times a week, corroborates this point. Even our president, Mohammadu Buhari, regularly used his twitter handle to pass across his message to Nigerians. Keeping tabs on current events in the country by following these news outlets on social media has made me a better conversationalist. It is common knowledge that if you don’t know what to talk about with a friend or stranger, you can start from current events which will make for good topics.
As a lectiophile, I have always wanted to read more books. On the internet, I consciously and intentionally created contents about reading and writing. Aside following reputable writers on many digital platform, I have also followed people whose contents revolve around reading. Due to this impression, I had the opportunity of joining an online book club where everyone is mandated to read a prescribed book within a specified period of time. Honestly, reading these different genres of books have helped to broaden my horizons. How could I have known about or participated in cmonionline weekly essay competition if I didn’t have any online presence? Just by participating, I have learnt a lot, and have been financially rewarded too.
Being a mechanical engineer who has reasonable level of dexterity in computer aided design, I added this skill on my LinkedIn profile and I also joined as a freelancer on some website. This has attracted lots of jobs to me as well as enabled me to network with fellow designers. By constantly doing some freelancing jobs and engaging with my colleagues online, I have been able to improve my proficiency in computer aided design.
Surfing the internet and social media, I realized that some of the people I hold in high regard were trading forex and cryptocurrency. I carefully observed their updates as they gave financial advices. Just by having an online presence, I was able to learn a few things about the foreign exchange market. Currently, I have enrolled in an online course where I need to be grounded on forex before I can start trading. Whether I succeed or not, I wouldn’t have pick up interest if I did have a digital presence.
Negative influence of a digital presence
Having a digital presence could lead to internet or social media addiction, and problematic use of the internet. Since having an online presence involves creating contents on the internet, many have been caught in the ugly web of internet addiction. A report seen on tandfonline.com shows that one out of seven university students in Nigeria is found to be an addictive user of the internet. This has not only had an adverse effect on our reading culture, but it has exposed many Nigerians to online risks such as exposure to sexually explicit contents and online victimization such as fraud, scams, and sexual soliciting. This has also led to diminished passion for academic excellence, neglect of cultural values and behavioural norms, which threatens the order of the society.
optimizing life online and offline
Making the best and effective use of life involves the following;
· Personal branding: The process of personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and making conscious effort to be known for them. This could help you to advance your career, increase your circle of influence, and have a larger impact.
· Planning: Since excessive and addictive use of the internet can negatively affect ones life, an effective to-do list can be very helpful I’m this regard. A practical to-do list sets you off in the right direction each day and helps you focus on the tasks that are more important, whether online or offline tasks. Hence, a to-do list will help one achieve more in less time.
· Learning: This is another way of optimizing life. There are various skills one can learn online or offline. Learning from people who have excelled in your field on the internet such as social media can be a great influence in your life. Developing a good reading culture is also another way to learn. According to psychologies.co.uk, studies have shown that learning throughout our lives can improve self-esteem and increase life-satisfaction, optimism, and belief in our own abilities.
· Healthy lifestyle: Exercising the body is key to optimizing ones life. Despite the workload one has, good and adequate sleep should not be taken for granted. You must take great care in what you eat. Attending online or offline health seminars would be very helpful in this regard.
· Networking: This will help you develop and improve your skill set, stay on the latest trends in your field, keep a pulse on the job market, meet prospective mentors, partners and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster your career development.
It is practically impossible for anyone to ignore the influences of a digital presence in the world today. These influences could be positive or negative, and it is dependent on how one uses the internet. Adequate care must be taken to ensure that our online presence influences us positively. Also, by adopting the aforementioned steps in the text, one can make optimize his life online and offline.
Michael Ogbonnaya is a graduate of mechanical engineering from the Federal University of Technology Owerri. He is a creative writer who tries to tackle societal problems with his writing and can be reached via email@example.com