As a Social Media user, this article contains information on Social Media Footprint and why you should me be cautious of your activities on social media.
There is a common saying that “the media never forgets.” As a social media user, you should be conversant with this popular statement. Oftentimes, it is used to caution people who are going overboard with the things they put up online.
The fact is that many people use social sites effectively and responsibly, while others use them excessively in the most malicious ways.
One thing that people forget is that posting on social media isn’t the same as having a one-on-one conversation. Normal conversations can happen now and the next minute, they are gone without a trace except if recorded. This is not the case with social media where all engagement is archived. Everything ranging from the things you search, read, view or say, leaves a trail that can be revisited by others even in years time. This is why people are reminded that the media never forgets.
Bearing this in mind, this article will be focused on social media footprint.
What is Social Media Footprint?
According to Softwarelab , the concept of a digital footprint goes by many names. Some call it an electronic footprint, digital shadow, or digital breadcrumbs. Regardless of whatever name it’s called, a social media footprint is the trail of information you leave behind when performing regular activities on the internet.
In other words, Social media footprint refers to the digital presence and activities an individual or organization leaves behind on various social media platforms. It encompasses the cumulative impact and visibility an individual or organization has across different social media channels, including posts, interactions, engagement, and overall online behavior. It can be used to establish one’s reputation or influence.
A social media footprint can be measured by the number of followers, likes, shares, comments, and views that an individual or organization has received over time.
It can be used by recruiters, employers, and others to evaluate the reputation, personality, and potential of a person or a company. So when you hear people referring to social media profiles as the “New CV”, this is why.
With this being said, it is important to be mindful of your social media footprint since it can have both positive and negative consequences on your personal or professional life.
As social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, understanding and managing one’s social media activities and footprint is crucial in today’s digital world.
Components of Social Media Footprint
A lot of things make up the social media footprint. Here are a number of them:
1. Profiles and Accounts
Social media footprint begins with the creation of profiles and accounts on various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok and more. These profiles serve as digital representations of individuals or organizations and are often the starting point for establishing an online presence.
2. Posts and Content
There can not be a vital footprint without contents. The content you share on social media platforms contributes significantly to one’s footprint. Posts can include text, images, videos, articles, and links. The frequency, relevance, and quality of content can impact the visibility and perception of an individual or organization.
3. Engagement and Interactions
This component has landed many in regrettable situations. Social media is designed to encourage interactions and engagement among users. This can involve likes, comments, shares, retweets, and direct messages. The level of engagement reflects the social media footprint and can determine the extent of influence and reach. Sadly, a lot of media users do not know where to draw the lines when it comes to interactions. Many just spew anything that comes into their head without thinking through it first. This sometimes is popularly referred to as “chasing clout or catching cruise.”
4. Networks and Connections
Social media allows you to build networks and connect with others. The number and quality of connections, such as friends, followers, and professional contacts, contribute to the social media footprint. Strong connections with influential individuals or organizations can enhance visibility and credibility. Oftentimes, this is achieved when your connections share your posts or tag you to posts. It is therefore advisable to beware of the kind of friends you interact with in the media because everything they do directly or indirectly rubs off on you. Remember the saying, “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.”
5. Privacy and Security Settings
The settings on social media platforms play a crucial role in managing the footprint. Privacy settings determine who can view your content and interact with your profile, while security measures protect against unauthorized access and potential data breaches. As a social media user, you need to pay attention to this component, not only for the purpose of social footprint, but to maintain maximum cyber wellness and safety.
Importance of Managing Social Media Footprint
There are numerous importance of managing your social footprints. Below are some of them:
1. Personal Branding
A well-managed social media footprint can contribute to your personal branding. By sharing valuable content, engaging with relevant communities, and presenting oneself in a positive light, you can shape your online reputation and influence how others perceive you.
My earlier years on social media were for clouts. Infact, I was what you could call “social media Magret Thatcher. I was found on every controversial platform. While at it, I didn’t fail to share valuable contents. During this period, I was a mere social media user but in 2019 when I became very intentional about building a reputable brand online, a lot changed about me. I became more popular and twice since then, I gotten a few awards of excellence.
Your social footprint may make or break your personal brand.
2. Professional Opportunities
Opportunities come to those who are well positioned for it. Social media has become an integral part of the job search process and professional networking. Employers often review candidates’ social media profiles to gain insights into their personality, interests, and professionalism. A positive and professional social media footprint can enhance career prospects.
Two years back, I applied for the role of a remote Executive Assistant. Part of my job description was to create content. Ofcourse, I got the job. Do you know how?
Prior to the virtual interview, my Boss checked through my social media profiles. According to him, checking through my LinkedIn profile did the magic.
The thing is, I had a lot of content on LinkedIn. Checking through these posts was all the conviction he needed. What if I didn’t have meaningful posts? I’m sure you know what the outcome would be. “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”
Still on professional opportunities, if there is a platform to take seriously in this regard, it has to be LinkedIn.
3. Online Reputation Management
Social media provides a platform for others to express opinions and share feedback. Managing social media footprint involves monitoring and addressing any negative comments, controversies, or misinformation that may arise. Proactive reputation management helps protect one’s image and credibility.
4. Networking and Collaboration
Building a strong social media presence enables individuals and organizations to connect with like-minded individuals, industry experts, and potential collaborators. A larger and more engaged network expands opportunities for collaboration, learning, and professional growth. You will agree with me that no sane brand or individual will like to associate with someone who is constantly associated with scandals and malicious behaviors.
5. Audience Reach and Influence
A large social media footprint increases the visibility and reach of content. With a larger audience, individuals and organizations can share their ideas, promote products or services, and influence public opinion on various topics.
Tips for Managing Social Media Footprint
Managing your social media footprint  is important for maintaining a positive online presence and protecting your privacy. Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your social media footprint:
1. Review your privacy settings
A lot of times, many social media users do not bother to know about the privacy settings on each platform and what they entail. One way to effectively manage your social media footprint is to familiarize yourself with the privacy settings on each social media platform you use. Adjust these settings to control who can see your posts, photos, and personal information.
Regularly review and update these settings as platform policies may change over time.
2. Be mindful of what you share
Privacy settings can not be 100% effective. We are in an era where people are quick to take screenshots of other people’s posts for reasons best known to them. A second is enough to do so before you think of taking down a post. So, think twice before making posts. Avoid sharing confidential or private information that could be used against you or compromise your security.
Moreso, consider the potential consequences of your posts, comments, and photos before sharing them. Ask yourself if the content aligns with your personal values and whether it could negatively impact your personal or brand reputation.
3. Use Strong, Unique Passwords
Another way to manage your social media footprint is to use strong, unique passwords for each of your social media accounts to protect them from unauthorized access. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate passwords.
4. Regularly monitor your accounts
Keep a close eye on your social media accounts for any suspicious activity, such as unauthorized logins or unusual posts.
Enabling 2 Factor authentication  for your social media accounts is one way to put this in check. What it does is to add an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step, such as a unique code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.
5. Review your content
This is no policy that stops you from deleting past posts. Hence, periodically review your past posts and remove any content that no longer aligns with your current values or could be potentially misinterpreted. Be mindful of the impression your posts can create and maintain a positive and professional image online.
It is possible you may have forgotten posts you made in the past, to discover such posts, search your name on search engines to see what information and content are associated with you. This can help you identify any potential issues and take necessary steps to fix them.
6. Be Selective with Friend/Follower Requests
Only accept friend or follower requests from people you know and trust. Be cautious about adding strangers to your social media network as they may have malicious intent or could misuse your personal information.
Social media footprint are trails or impressions you leave online. These trails can either be positive or negative from every of your activities on social media. This can range from your posts to comments down to how you relate with other social media users.
These footprints can be managed especially if you intend to build a brand. However, bear in mind that managing your social media footprint is an ongoing process. By actively managing your social media footprint, you can effectively leverage the power of social media for personal or professional growth while minimizing potential risks.
 “No Title.” Google.com, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.rsd.k12.pa.us/Downloads/10WaystoManageYourSocialMediaFootprint.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjs7b2SoaX_AhU_QUEAHX2AD14QFnoECAEQAQ&usg=AOvVaw1Fuew0VtpvCTA5xRHuB7_5.
 “What Is a Digital Footprint? 5 Examples You Need to Know.” SoftwareLab, Tibor Moes, https://softwarelab.org/what-is-a-digital-footprint/.
 “What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?” Microsoft.com, https://www.microsoft.com/en-ww/security/business/security-101/what-is-two-factor-authentication-2fa.