How you can get a handle on digital

The digital dimension of communication and marketing is becoming more and more important. At the same time I hear more and more people say that they find it hard to understand or get a handle on all things digital. This can come from very senior people, CMOs as well as experienced communication and marketing specialists. 

On a more general note, I’ve seen a few articles lamenting the fact that people in their 40s and 50s have a hard time finding work in marketing and communications because they lack knowledge about digital matters including SEO and social media.

If you feel that this rings true for you, then you might find these three suggestions on how to improve your digital skills useful:

1. Study, study, study

There is no lack of good books, articles and blog posts that can teach you a lot of both basic stuff and the more advanced insights. No matter if you want to read up on social media, content marketing or digital transformation, thinkers ranging from household names like Brian Solis and Seth Godin to more specialized thought leaders can help you out. And it’s never been easier to keep track of what they’re writing. Follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn, subscribe to their posts via RSS or use another of all the ways you can aggreggate content today (Which in itself is a great way of learning how one dimension of digital works).

2. Experiment

The best way to learn something is to give it a try. And a lot of the digital skills and tools that are important today can be learnt as an individual. Create a presence in social channels and then use it to post, engage, share etc. That’s a great way of learning how social works. Plus a social presence of your own is something recruiters increasingly look for.

You can open a blog without any costs, and get your own site for a very low amount. That will give you the opportunity to create and publish your own content, while learning the basics of SEO and tools like Google Analytics. You can experiment with film on YouTube, infographics on Canva and podcasts via Itunes. And that will in turn teach you a lot about content creation and distribution in the digital era.

3. Keep an open mind

One of the most important parts of learning digital is to actually accept that it’s important. This might sound strange, but I come across this fairly often. The idea that digital somehow is less important than communication that takes place in “the real world”. This is especially true for social media.

My advice is to drop that way of thinking immediately. You might long for the good old days when people read newspapers and books, watched TV and listened to the radio. And when communication and advertising was very much a one way street of endless messages interrupting the recipients with whatever they were doing. But the truth of the matter is that newspapers and magazines are dying more or less slowly, people watch increasingly more “TV-shows” on their smartphones and tablets, and “listening to the radio” is much more likely to be creating playlists on Spotify or subscribing to a podcast. The power to accept and dismiss commercial messages rests absolutely with the recipient today, and they have had enough of being spoken to. Instead of having them ignore your ads you would be better of making sure they will find your content via search and social.

Digital is serious business today, no less “the real world” than any other aspect of our lives. And the good old days will never return. The sooner you accept this the better.

Over to you

What would be your best advice to someone who is struggling with digital? And if you don’t agree with me, what would you tell them? Leave a comment below.

And if you have read this far, thank you! You might enjoy some of my other posts here. If you have any questions, send me an e-mail or find me on Twitter as @PStaunstrup.

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