If you missed Part 1 of this two-part series, be sure to click here and read up on the other essential skills for digital success. 

Here are more of the qualities and skills digital professionals should work on in order to succeed in this rapidly evolving field:

Social media

Recently having their 10th anniversary and with one-fifth of the world’s population on Facebook, they are certainly here to stay. From a business perspective, social media transformed the web in a revolutionary way by putting the big corporates on equal footing with smaller businesses and organisations. The idea of consumer sentiment which was previously only an abstract concept that could be gathered through expensive focus groups was now delivered in real time without a filter to businesses across the globe.

Anyone today can be on social media – your 8-year-old niece is likely on social media. Nor is Facebook the only game in town, many new potential rivals have appeared and in particular younger users seem to be gravitating towards newer services. The ability to match your overall business character and objectives with the strengths and weaknesses of each social media platform is an important asset. You will also need to get buy in from the business overall. The message from social media should represent the message and attitude of the business overall.

Search engine optimisation

Some estimates are that search engines represent 65% of all website traffic so it is no surprise a whole field has developed for those looking to gain an edge with their search engine ranking. By the time a new book is printed about SEO it will generally be out of date. SEO for digital marketers has been a continuous struggle to stay updated with the releases that Google and other major search engines have brought in regularly. For a time digital marketers started to show hubris for essentially cracking the code, but with Google’s Panda update we were again put on the back foot. The vision of Google in the long term seems very clear, to eliminate the little tricks and gimmicks which put those in the know in an advantageous position in terms of search ranking and create a ranking system whereby only those sites truly deserving of their rank remained. 

Certainly the workarounds that once worked are slowly becoming unusable, but the goal remains - strong search engine rank across a wide range of keywords is ideal. Digital teams now need to integrate their SEO strategies back into overall digital and marketing strategies as a single component rather than an independent plan.

RELATED: How to plan a digital career in a rapidly changing landscape

Pay-per-click 

Pay-per-click forms the backbone of all digital advertising. Although we still use the term ‘campaign’ to refer to pay-per-click promotions, the traditional view of an advertising campaign is completely different. A text ad pay-per-click campaign could be planned in the morning, created in the afternoon and launched in the evening.  

Unlike traditional advertising campaigns it is a marathon rather than a race. Being able to continuously tweak campaigns for small gradual improvements is the real challenge. You will need to leverage your understanding of analytics and try to best understand the motivations of your users and customers.

Business acumen

The line between digital and offline continues to blur. You can find retailers that allow you to select an item online and the pick it up and pay in the store. Does the revenue go to the store or the online unit, and does it matter? In the same way that we now call LCD TVs just TVs, one wonders if ‘digital businesses’ will just be shortened to ‘businesses’ in the future with the assumption and expectation that every business is digital.

Having a clear understanding of how your business works and its overall objectives is critical in the digital space. 

Digital teams now need to integrate their SEO strategies back into overall digital and marketing strategies as a single component rather than an independent plan

Content management 

The web and all things digital have always been content, and continually we have seen digital beating out traditional media. It was all the way back in 2009 when Encarta Encyclopaedia closed down shop due to the consolidating efforts of Wikipedia’s unpaid contributors. With traditional media companies losing their influence, and their businesses altogether for that matter, there has been a power vacuum being filled by all manner of specialists and sites. It is a new era of democratisation of content that has led me to write this very article.

Analytical skills 

Analytical skills require the ability to understand, conceptualise and solve problems by making rational decisions with limited information.  

Digital epitomises change so being able to foresee and then adapt to new challenges and strategies is the most critical skill you can attain. The work that we do on a daily basis in digital will be completely different in 10 years’ time. What worked for us in the past is unlikely to for us work in the future.

Furthermore, in digital we often find ourselves treading new ground that has been covered in any textbook or instruction manual. The ability to use all the tools you have developed for new problems is indispensable.

Summary

Digital is a rapidly evolving area, and for professionals to remain relevant and marketable they need to ensure they are well-adapted to this pace of change. These are the qualities that can help drive success into the future:

  • Social media
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Pay per click
  • Business acumen
  • Content management
  • Analytics skills
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