This article is written in collaboration with Northern Ireland digital marketing specialist, Belfast fiction author, Scott Gilmore. Read his article here.
Over the last decade, I have worked in a wide variety of digital marketing and communications roles in Northern Ireland.
Roles include working for a skip hire company (random, I know), and for a Russel Group University for four years.
However, I didn’t study marketing and communications at university.
I studied Politics and Criminology.
Therefore, I probably started my marketing career relying more on gut instinct than anything actionable from a degree course.
However, here are five things I wish I were told ten years ago when I started my digital marketing career.
In my naivety, when I started in digital marketing, I thought the role was mine.
That is to say; I thought I would be able to dictate the strategy.
But most people involved in Northern Ireland marketing and communications roles today can relate to this story.
Your work phone rings or your Outlook pings a notification sound.
However, you disagree and maybe even express shock.
You don’t want your precious Social Media channels to be used as a dumping ground for information.
Certainly, this is frustrating, but it’s all part of the big picture approach.
You might not be able to see the big picture from the bosom of your hyper-focused marketing.
In short, it’s one of those things you have to accept.
Digital marketing is one of the unique careers.
For example, a lot of what you create is put straight out there into the world wide web.
It’s visible to your friends, family, work colleagues and managers to see daily.
The pressure to ensure accuracy.
To make people laugh.
Engage with the audience.
Most importantly, to make people buy or complete an action.
To make sure not a single comma is out of place.
However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage.
In other words, do an excellent job in your digital marketing role, and you’ll soon become well-known.
As a result, you’ll be sought-after for your online marketing prowess.
You’ve read all the books in uni; you know your A/B testing from your Analytics.
You understand content marketing and SEO.
Unfortunately, segmentation and ROIs and other marketing lingo won’t do your job for you.
However, they do not apply to every business in every circumstance.
For example, I’ve always worked on gut-instinct marketing.
As a result, I have always believed one principle more than any other.
That is: create enough great content, consistently, and you won’t have much to worry about.
A professional footballer has to be good at kicking a football.
A singer has to be able to sing.
Uniquely, a digital marketer in the modern era has to be good at a wide variety of things, mostly all unrelated.
In addition, how many other careers out there boast as much of a mismatch in eligibility criteria?
When I was starting in Digital Marketing, I wish someone had told me I’d have to wear a lot of different hats.
I would have tried to learn each as I went along.
However, in Digital Marketing, nobody gets to choose how their job plays out.
In 2010 Facebook was king. A significant per cent of posts were actually being read by people who liked the page.
Now? There’s Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
And a whole host of other social media platforms.
They’re all vying for our attention.
Most importantly, they’re competing for the attention of our target audience.
Facebook engagement with posts has dropped so low it’s embarrassing to be a digital marketer.
It’s incredibly frustrating to work hard, create quality content, knowing only 1-2% of your audience will ever see it.
I remember in one of my digital marketing roles.
During my first few months, I was given this ridiculous target:
But during this exchange, I remember thinking to myself, “Surely, this isn’t the best way to judge success, using vanity metrics?”
However, the Manager had, of course, no digital marketing experience.
Meanwhile, my counter-argument that 100 new Facebook ‘Likes’ was pointless, especially considering how Facebook is decreasing overall engagement, fell on deaf ears.
Questioning whether Snapchat was a platform even used by our target audience also didn’t register.
And expect that in 99% of digital marketing roles for the decision-makers above you that do not know much about marketing.
Some will respect that it’s your area of expertise.
Moreover, they will let you run it in the way you know best.
Others will need to feel involved.
In other words, you’ll have to humour them and reach monthly vanity metrics.
To sum up, you’ll probably have to post content unrelated to your strategy nearly every day.
Ah, good old Digital Marketing.
Would we have it any other way?
What advice do you wish you were given at the start of your Northern Ireland digital marketing career?
Let me know in the comments section below.