Chrissy Clary

ponder. conspire. digitize.

Category: Content

The Dilemma of the
Digital Strategist

Since 2001, I have been building devices designed to communicate using the Internet. I’m a digital strategist with a portfolio of websites and digital marketing campaigns.

I have grown curious about the effects of my work, and the work of others like me, on people around the world.

In an attempt to scratch this itch, I’ve been asking a lot of questions and digging around in the literature. The bumper sticker on my worn-out Honda CRV reads, “I’m not lost, I am exploring.” That concept is the lens I used as I explored the idea that the Internet has had and is having a profound influence on how we think, what we know, and how we relate to one another.

One concern I have centers around ethics, or the potential lack thereof, within the community of people working in digital strategy.

Corporations and large organizations now hold astounding amounts of data on all of us. With machine learning, algorithmic targeting, and carefully curated messaging, they are trying to deliver you messages that you will find engaging (Davis and Patterson, 2012).

Eric Schmitt explains how it works at Google in this interview on YouTube.

Here, Schmitt says that at Google, the idea “is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it.” He talks about the “creepy line” but does not draw that line for us. How do we know where that line is? In many cases, companies are not clarifying their ethics regarding online communications. Instead, the line is a proprietary idea held and perhaps only partially understood within that organization.

Don’t get me wrong, I love googling just as much as the next person. My concern is about the ethics practiced by many organizations regarding data mining and targeting. The dilemma is becoming clear. Digital strategist are working to expand the Internet without defined ethical guidelines.

Perhaps a larger concern for me is with respect to my own ethical practices. This exploration has brought me to the realization that my ethics are based on practices of the past even as I help to build the communication machines of the future.

As a digital leader at my organization I have a responsibility to help establish and communicate our ethics and attitudes on this subject. Having a core understanding of how my decisions affect others will aid me in drawing a creepily line of my own.

I start by attempting to answer the following questions:

  • What is the effect of algorithmically delivered news?
  • What data do they have on us?
  • How do we know what to trust?
  • Who do we trust?
  • Where does the conversation around digital marketing ethics sit today?

This list is incomplete; there are so many more questions, but it would be impossible to list them all and try to answer them all. My journey is only beginning.

Now Read: What is the effect of algorithmically delivered news?

 

References:

Davis, K. & Patterson, D. (September 20, 2012). Ethics of Big Data. O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Eric Schmitt discusses how algorithmic targeting works at Google (2011). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB-2n6KSYWk

 

Misconceptions in Content Marketing

Content Marketing is not the silver bullet for online marking, and it ain’t easy, but these days it should be a part of your marketing efforts. The big misconception is that your customers will go directly from reading your content to purchase your product. When that does not happen it is easy to give up.

Content Marketing is about building awareness and being a voice in the market. It is about introducing your brand to your potential audience and building a relationship with them. The only difference between content marketing and traditional networking and PR efforts is that you can do it from home in your PJs.

Video borrowed from SEO MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday series

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Who is the web site manager and what do they do?

Prior to developing a new website it’s important for leadership to devote adequate, professional resources to the project. “The Internet is by far the most important medium in the lives of consumers, but companies continue to under invest in their online marketing efforts (Digital influence Study, 2008).

In Production: During the development of a site a skilled manager will act as liaison to the IT department as the team develops the site architecture and physically constructs the site.

To supervise this aspect of the project the site manager must have a strong understanding of the technical aspects of web development, site usability and search engine optimization practices.

Content Management: Once site construction is complete the site manager’s role may change to content manager. Much like a managing editor in a newspaper newsroom, the site manager will decide what stories should be featured and promoted.

To perform this function the site manager will need to have strong writing and editing skills, and a good sense for what stories are timely and newsworthy.

Site monitoring:  The site manager will also shoulder the responsibility for monitoring the success of the site using metrics. Mmetrics will indicate the amount of traffic on a site or a particular page of a site, and the flow of users as they use the site. Monitoring site metrics will assist the manager in identifying areas needing process improvements. Low metrics can indicate that the site has poor usability, bad content or is being inadequately marketed.

The site manager will need to have a strong understanding of web analytics, what the numbers indicate and how to make technical or content adjustments as necessary.

Innovation before income, hope for finding newspaper’s missing link

I work in a room full of journalists. They are print people. They work day and night to meet a deadline. Each day a new deadline.

At some point in the last 15 to 20 years they were introduced to the internet. From what I can tell it was a slow introduction, recently accelerated by the shift in the economy.

This room of journalists, I can only assume, is much like other newsrooms full of writers working under the constant question of what the future will hold.

The room is abound with ideas and theories, none being obvious large revenue generators. The journalists separate themselves from the thought of how their mission will be funded and focus on the quality of their work and trying to understand the evolving beast that is the World Wide Web.

I find myself in a lucky position. I am a entertainment editor working fully online. Each day, I function in an environment fueled more by the hope of finding the link to newspapers of the future than the guarantee of a big payoff. Of course, there is a hope that the link will be the payoff.

I cannot speak to how my coworkers feel. I can only relate my own anxieties and hopes about the future. But let me make this clear, while there is a lot of anxiety there is as much, if not more, hope.

The shift in newspaper revenue, while devastating for many, may be necessary for news generators at all levels to look at their processes and procedures and put innovation before income.

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