Put Your Best (Digital) Foot Forward

As author Cynthia Ozick once said, “Two things remain irretrievable: time and a first impression.” She’s hardly alone in that assessment. A quick search on “first impression quotes” brings up a long list of utterances running in the same vein and for good reason. First impressions matter. 

Today, first impressions transcend a face-to-face meeting or phone call pitch. In fact, you may not even get the opportunity to worry about how your handshake will be measured or if your vocal tone exuded confidence. You may be making a digital first impression before you even know a future client, employer, or investor is even looking. If your social media profiles, your website, and your other digital properties aren’t up to snuff, it could be costing you. 

It's Not a Pandemic Thing

This isn’t a temporary phenomenon due to our heavy reliance on digital properties across these last two years. Long before the pandemic, digital first impressions were a big deal. Way back in 2018, which seems like a lifetime ago, research from Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient found that 87% of shoppers began their product search on digital channels regardless of whether they ultimately made their purchase online or in-person. Sure that’s a retail stat, but it applies to the we engage with our professional research as well. 

As an example, a report from Jobvite Recruiter Nation found that 87% of recruiters used LinkedIn to check candidates. On the other side of the coin, Careerbuilder’s research found that 64% of job candidates will research a company online after they receive a job offer, and 37% of them said they will move on to another job if they can’t find any information about their potential employer online. 

Blink and You Missed It

First impressions require no lingering glances. One study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology found that visitors to your website are making up their mind about you in less than 2/10 of a second. Other studies pegged the amount of time you had to impress as a little longer or even a little shorter than that figure. Regardless of which research team you put your confidence in, however, the reality is this – someone swinging by your website or your social media profile or your Google listing will make up their mind faster than you can whisper, “Please take a look around and let’s talk about how I can help you.” 

Get an Outsider View

Take the time to view your online profiles the way someone not logged into your account is going to see them. Google yourself. Ask a friend to take a glance at your social media pages. What are you trying to convey to those that find you online and does your digital footprint convey that? Is there anything public-facing you’d not want your employer or clients to see? 

Be Confident, Professional, and Present 

Let’s walk through this one. You’re looking to hire an agency to help manage your marketing and public relations efforts. You’ve narrowed down the stack of quotes and proposals to two top candidates. On paper there’s little to differentiate them. They both seem stellar. You decide to check out each one online to get a better feel of what they can offer. Candidate A has a few broken links on their website. Some of the images are slow to load and a few others are not crisp. A glance at their LinkedIn profile shows that neither the business page, nor any of the senior executives have posted or updated their profile in about 3 months. 

Candidate B’s website is quick to load and easy to navigate. The photos are specific to their company. There’s just enough information that you can identify their key brand messaging points without overwhelming you with words on a page. The associated LinkedIn profiles are active. Posts are written in a tone that exudes confidence in their areas of expertise. 

Who are you going to award the retainer to? And, while we’re on the subject, is your website and social media presence more like Candidate A or B?