Education isn’t a topic I usually cover on here but I think it’s fitting to blog about recently completing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Why? Well, one: the course topic was about digital marketing and I’m a blogger. Admittedly I take a relaxed, creative stance towards Gone Out but blogging isn’t just a fun spare-time activity, it’s a core area of digital marketing. And two: I work in marketing full time. It’s always beneficial to develop professionally so with permission from my boss, I got started.
The free course, hosted on a closed-license platform you have to register for, was ran by digital marketing and business experts Lisa Harris and Tom Chapman from the University of Southampton. Participants were able to utilise traditional learning resources such as videos and reading material, with the additional benefit of discussion forums, downloadable material and interactive maps so we could see where everyone on the course is from. There was a large UK contingent but there were also Spanish, US and Argentinian participants among others.
I worked to the topic breakdown provided under the platform’s 3 week sections. I found this easy to handle as part of my work day but would recommend that if you need to, ask you manager or superior if that’s okay. The bite size topic breakdowns formed discussions, surveys, videos and articles. There were various topics I found interesting and engaging, including the fact the glossary contained an explanation of who Bruce Willis is.
In all seriousness, I began the course by learning about storytelling strategies. Business owners and marketing staff from various companies spoke about the methods they use to tell a story about their brand. Before anything, we considered the concept of knowing what your audience wants. It’s a basic but essential part of marketing. It’s common sense that, when looking at the web today, marketers should consider whether consumers want to be engaged with or communicated to. This raised many questions. For example: how do we engage? Does my audience want to watch YouTube videos of your brand activities such as staff working on an eye-catching project? Do people want to share their stories about the brand on Facebook? Do they want to use Twitter to ask you questions about a product? Is a static website good enough? The weird thing about this is, I know it’s important but I wasn’t fully aware of how important. It’s easy to put material together just because you like it but if your audience doesn’t care, it’s not going to be popular, sharable or sellable. This topic area further emphasised the need to go back to basics every time.
We also considered devices and how marketers can adapt to presenting material suitable for specific devices, customer journeys, digital assets, privacy and targeted advertising, analytics, web observing and gamification.
The Digital Assets topic interested me more than I expected. There were both personal and professional aspects to consider. It left me wondering about the online services we use and whether we are in complete control of the information we upload to them and update them with. Essentially many of these services can cancel accounts at any time should they need to. What would happen to your photos? What would happen to the digital footprint you’ve created? Where do your downloaded music tracks, books and films go? These services do provide terms and conditions so I think it’s very much worth reading them if you want to be completely aware of what you’ve agreed into. Oh, back up your images on your computer too – like I didn’t when I deleted MySpace. My picture of Amy Winehouse smiling into my camera when I saw her live is now lost in the digital ether. Boohoo. You may say deleting my profile without removing the images was a silly thing to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear how many people have a relaxed attitude to displaying their personal content on the web.
Professionally, I believe it’s about being as clear as possible as what a business is going to do with prospects and customers information. Regardless of whether marketers think people are going to read the terms and conditions or not, it’s not cool to be fill them up with jargon so people unwittingly sign up for something they aren’t entirely clear about.
The course has opened my eyes to new and previously used digital marketing methods, both in my job and for this blog. It’s a good idea to be more mindful of my actions as a marketer, especially as one that aims to engage readers, users and customers in an ethical and forward-thinking manner. This course was a great way for me to consider developing new working patterns and learn about what is right and wrong in the world of digital marketing.
Find out more about the Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights course I did, and others at futurelearn.com.