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Digital media marketing expertise rendered on the fly

What’s the corollary to Moore’s Law in digital media marketing? I’m wondering. Surely, there must be one, because the digital media marketing industry is changing with mind-boggling rapidity.  I swear that by sunset each day there’s either something new or something different. There’s always a new social media network launching, a new update to a search algorithm, or a change to Facebook privacy.

Recently, another digital media marketing consultant and I were discussing this crazy accelerated rate of change. We commiserated that just as soon as we become proficient in one area, we need to relearn it. It’s like we’re on a hamster wheel running backward. It’s almost impossible to keep up with how things work.

My friend pointed out that 20-somethings approached the boiling pot with much more indifference than we digital veterans. Us oldsters feel compelled not just to stay abreast of new developments, but learn them immediately. We have to be early adopters. It’s what our clients expect when they hire us.

Social Media Week 2012 SP
Photo credit: Fora do Eixo

By contrast, Gen Y types don’t see the point of learning something that you might not need. They view constant change and evolution as the norm. Just because it’s here today, doesn’t mean that it’ll be around in the same format – or any format – tomorrow.

So why bother?

Instead, they learn it when they need to.

Continuous changes to the way things work impact strategy, execution and results. I stay current by reading a lot and taking classes and attending Webinars. But it’s very time consuming. My Feedly stream and Google alerts often overwhelm me, and I know I don’t catch every announcement. Sometimes that’s OK, but it’s not so OK when I discover the change in the middle of describing to a client how a social media feature works. So this approach isn’t enough – not nearly enough. Could my time be better spent?

The Millennial generation seems to think so. Back to my consultant friend: His son is pursuing a career in the music industry and works as a Web developer to pay his bills. He doesn’t hesitate to take projects that are beyond his skill set.

When a project requires coding or a task he’s not familiar with, he knows he has options. A quick Google search usually turns up part of the answer, and support forums usually provide detailed instructions. Chances are, someone has asked about the same problem already. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of posing the question to the community as whole. An answer usually comes within a day.

It’s a self-directed apprenticeship.

You might say that clients are getting duped and that this isn’t in their best interest. The truth is, no consultant will know everything. We’re all seeking answers, and we’re paid to take that burden from the client. Still, I think trying to stay ahead by reading and taking classes is a smart approach. We owe it to ourselves and to our clients to be able to articulate what larger trends mean to their digital media marketing strategy.

Good digital media marketing consultants will have broad knowledge with a specialty in two or three areas. After that, our greatest assets are our willingness to learn by doing and our troubleshooting skills.

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