We are quite clear that people carry a model of the world and their place in it round with them. They do not see the world as it is but from a personal perspective. In addition, these perspectives change depending on context or social role.
Today, there can be a new and different 'self. It is a 'self' that emerges in cyberspace as people interact on line. Some of this 'self' is created by the individual but it is added to as the Web links other content to and from the presence the individual has created or has been created by others about them. Add to this content in web sites, email, search engine data, blogs, podcasts, wiki's chat discussion lists, Usenet and a host of other on-line properties and the 'digital self' can be extensive.
It is not the real self of the person it is a construct (mashup) contributed by the person, other people and Internet technologies. It also juxtaposes history and current information and presents this person to the wider world.
As people get involved in social media, there is a combination of influences that affect the digital 'self'. The nature of hyperlinking and search engines is that as a person is becomes more linked to different Internet properties, the ranking by search engines is improved. In addition, the nature of social media created an Internet context about that person.
This translated to organisations too.
The 'corporate self' exists in cyberspace. Is a sociological corporate identity comprising properties like web sites and links to and from other web sites. This presence is often enhanced using techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation (a business growing at the rate of 100% per year, I note today) and RSS capability. In addition people tend to discuss organisations in the social media and link to the organisation and to each other. This enhances the ranking of the organisation by search engines and, additionally creates and adds to the context about it on-line.
Most organisations are best known by their on-line presence. It is how stakeholders discover information about them from their web sites, from search engines (example) and through discussion (example) and context created by third parties (example) and interactions (example).
This 'digital footprint' gives organisations competitive advantage with differing trends in searches by people:
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These results are about the digital presence thy are not the companies involved. The difference is the real companies and the digital ones.
The effect of being involved with the social media is significant. It increases awareness and presence of companies. In particular it redresses the balance between companies with an existing big eFootprint by enhancing the eFootprint of the smaller organisation and adds inward links as people link to blog posts.
The organisations that engage in social media thereby gain competitive advantage.
This is a powerful reason for companies to examine social media strategies.
Graphic: Google Trends