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The State of Digital…From the IQ Perspective

  |  June 27, 2014   |  Comments

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.

1. I Facebook Therefore I Am.

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.

2. The Bridge and Tunnel Crowd

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.

3. One-Legged Man in Butt-Kicking Contest

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.

4. Linear Funnel Blindness Syndrome (LFBS)

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.

5. Coming Out of the Closet

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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Aaron Kahlow

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 - an e-learning 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. 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.

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 e-learning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.

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