Although people are becoming more and more conversant in digital, their actual, usable digital knowledge is declining. Here are five categories of people, broken down into varying levels of digital fluency.
I recently reviewed more data from the troves in our 2014 State of Digital Talent and Knowledge study and started to look at the profiles of marketing and business professionals and how they stacked up with relation to talent and skills. Here's what I found: DigitalIQ fluency is going up, while DigitalIQ knowledge is going way down.
I started to dig into the what, why, how, and who of these findings and broke it into five categories that YOU, reading this, will likely fit into below.
It's clear that people are becoming more and more conversant in digital. For example, gaffs like "The Google" or "I Twittered You" are a lot less common these days, a sure sign that digital and social media are going mainstream. But the challenge is, with all the talk, high-level articles in publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Economist, and the plethora of information to absorb, the actual useful knowledge people have to make better decisions or improve return on investment (ROI), is actually going down.
Here are five categories of people, broken down into varying levels of digital fluency.
This is the intern, job-seeker, or recent graduate. These are the people that "want to do social media." The data shows (and it's backed by qualitative real-life experience) that this group is not inclined to learn social media marketing, but just wants to "do it." The challenge is getting a sense of curiosity to learn (and outlet to do so) instilled from day one.
This is the marketing generalist trying to "bridge" the gap of marketing to digital marketing. They're not quite in the cool digital crowd, but are trying hard and understand the value digital brings to the company and career - the one bright spot. Here we have the possibility of major gains; we just need to ensure the company invests in these good folks.
This is the digital generalist who is doing a bit of everything - sending emails, writing blog posts, scheduling tweets, etc. But there's just not enough time to execute everything well, let alone learn to improve skills. The desire to improve is there, but it's all learning on the job and on the company's dime. And if you think going to events will make it better, think again. Some good ideas, some interesting new contacts, and a hangover are the main results from attending an event, and rarely is deep implementable knowledge instilled.
The person in this category is usually more of a digital specialist that gets it. These people tend to go deep in areas like conversion funnel analytics. And the deeper they go, the more obsessed they become with improving those areas of the existing funnel. This group is challenged by not allowing for broader perspectives, including the qualitative elements of user experience and brand, where much of the major gains lie.
This group typically includes either the founder or chief executive (CEO) of a small business or a senior vice president at an agency or brand. They have a team "doing" digital, but are scared of someone really peeling back the onion on their digital acumen. This is costing everyone money and valuable time on bad strategy, bad hires, and lack of confidence to drive the company, marketing team, or client forward.
In short, your CEO is now able to understand the value of digital and speak to it conversantly (yeah for budgets!), but the average marketer is actually less equipped to drive great results with too many channels, too much information, and too little time. So rare is the break-through moment, the great idea, or the real insight to accelerate sales in a meaningful (as opposed to small incremental) way.
Image via Shutterstock.
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After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - the leading eLearning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.
Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. As a speaker, Kahlow is known for his inspirational style and plain-spoken nature where audiences always walk away feeling both motivated and educated. Aaron is a leading educator translating online marketing technology jargon into simple marketing and business terms. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.
Named Metropolitan Magazine's "Top 40 Entrepreneurs under the Age of 40" Kahlow is also well known for his endless energy as an entrepreneur. Having built Business Online from three guys and a brother in a dentist office to BtoB Digital Agency of the Year; founding and selling the industry's premier digital marketing event, the Online Marketing Summit, and now on his third successful start-up, Online Marketing Institute, Kahlow is synonymous with building successful digital companies. Kahlow also has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Board to many digital associations and media companies like the International Business Marketers Association, Search Engine Strategies/ClickZ, Microsoft/ BING Prof. Accreditation, Social Media Examiner, as well as many digital technology start-ups.
Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his eLearning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.
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