A Week in the life of a Digital Marketing Manager

It is hard to define what a Digital Marketing Manager does on a weekly basis. They are all different, with different roles and working in different industries that bring their own ways of doing things. In this blogpost I will try and run through what I did last week. My own role is in the youth tourism industry but the organisation I work for is a Not-For-Profit. My role is also unusual because I am only one half of the marketing team. I take care of Digital and Social while the Deputy Marketing Manager (the fabulous Kate) takes care of partnerships, rates and contracts. I also double as Office Manager. This currently means that I am organising the Christmas party.
What an amazing contraption!


On Monday I sent off the booking processes to a web developer for a new online booking system. This is a huge project for us. Once upon a time I thought that booking a room in a hostel was pretty straightforward. Not a chance. Hostel rooms need to be able to change their layout depending on the types of groups that use it. There is a huge difference between booking a private family room with a cot for an infant and rocking up to a six bed dorm with your rucksack. Yet they are often both the same room. Instead of rooms, beds are the product and most booking systems struggle with them. Booking engines usually take information from Property Management Systems. They in turn talk to channel managers because customers often find beds first through searching the global platforms such as Hostelworld and Booking.com. It can get pretty complex and each part of the technological puzzle has to plug into the next in order to work properly. Multiply that by 24 hostels and your hair will turn grey instantly.
Image from page 202 of "Locomotive engineering : a practical journal of railway motive power and rolling stock" (1892)
I had to order flags for the hostels because the Wild Atlantic Way wind is doing what it does best and has ripped all our 2016 flags to shreds already. Part of being a charity is that we are a membership based organisation. Every week we get membership requests and they have to be processed. I share this with others in the office. At some stage throughout the day I will get many queries from the Reservations department. Today we had some scam emails that were coming through that they needed guidance with. We also discovered  that one of our email addresses was not forwarding on properly so we were losing possible enquiries. I got onto our email provider to see if they could sort it. They did, pretty instantly. At some stage I considered taking some time during the day to join a webinar but decided not to this time. Most weeks I will plug into a webinar to keep up to speed with changes.

Image from page 116 of "Bell telephone magazine" (1922)

Tuesday I have to update the council members onto our website. I make a note to interview some of these people about their hostelling experiences. Find out who they are, what they do and how I can use their stories to promote the concept of hostelling in Ireland.

One of the hostel manager gets in touch with me and tells me that Facebook is suggesting they add an old Google Blogger site from 2011 that nobody knew existed to their page for booking purposes. 2011! Cop on Facebook. I skim some forums and try to access the blog. No joy. I suggest they just ignore Facebook for now. Facebook, you great big fool.

Every Tuesday I update all my social media stats so that I can report to the board on what we are doing, what effect it is having and what that all means in plain English. This takes me a while as it is a deep dive. I have my own system but it is still like potholing. Along the way I meet some interesting folk and follow them. Some of them are hostel related. Some of them are digital marketing related. I also search for new hashtags that will be useful for discovering adventure related content. New travel bloggers appear in my feed and I skim them to see if there is anything I like.
Miners in the Kirunavaara mine, Kiruna, Lappland, Sweden

I get another note from Reservations about a website request that disappeared. It could have been a customer error or it could have been a glitch in the matrix. I log it with the website developers. I have a love-hate relationship with our developers. They speak a strange logical language that no person in their right mind would use. I have a web project manager who acts as a translator for me. Her job is to keep me calm and stop me exploding when simple things should happen but they don’t.  Reservations notice another issue with the way bookings are recorded in the hostels which is going to skew my monthly stats. This is probably due to new staff coming in and not being aware of the way I want it recorded. I have to figure out how to get that sorted tactfully without annoying staff and without the hostel managers feeling like I am trying to control them.
Andrew Stefanik, a bobbin boy, works as spare boy, November 1911

I meet with our CEO and he updates me on recent changes and anything that is concerning him. He gives me a few deadlines to put into the diary. I flag a few concerns of my own. After that I catch up on the Hostelling International presentations from two weeks ago. I jot down a few ideas about projects we could be doing that are working for other National Associations. I join the Hostelling International forum and ask for some help for a few things. This reminds me that I posted something on Boards.ie and sure I might aswell check the independent Hostel Management Forum. I phone the web developer and he goes through the booking processes with me from his perspective. He leaves me with more questions that I have to find answers to.

Good Times

On Wednesday I catch up with Kate. Wednesdays we try to make time to communicate what we are working on and what we need help with. I have to edit images for social media that came in from the hostels for the global Peace project we are part of. I also get some nice new ones of Lady Gogo, our three-legged goat in Connemara. Then we have an issue with a booking which seems to be breaking our contract. That necessitates a few emails and discussions before we get it sorted. In the meantime I post a few images up on Instagram. One of the extra things I have to get onto today is to create a record of the staff days off for the CEO. Then I receive a job application for an old position which is still appearing on one of our pages and which we have not taken down yet. After that I chase accounts for an invoice for the web hosting which is due for renewal soon and needs to be taken care of.
Chasing a pig at Gatton College

Thursday myself and Kate have put aside for our new strategy. This year we are taking a  hostel specific approach. The final result will be an overall network strategy but it will be developed from the 24 different hostels. It is more time consuming to this but it makes sense to us and we want to be able to go to the hostel managers with something that means something to them. We shut our door and spend all day at this. It goes well. We have spent the last two years making sure that systems were in place to gather data about each of the hostels so now it is just a case of plugging that all in. We pull in last years revenue, bed nights, bookings, web traffic, social media data, reviews and various demographic reports for each of the hostels. We can compare it to the previous year so we can begin to see the trends. Then we can start to do some analysis, look at what needs doing and start coming up with a plan. We will be at this for the next two months to create a report and a budget for the board.

U.S. Troops Surrounded by Holiday Mail During WWII

Friday I have to take care of the welcome and departure emails that get sent from our live hostels. I have this down to a fine art and can do it in 45 minutes if I get no interruptions. Once the emails are done in Mailchimp I start work on the monthly board statistics as they are needed for next week. After that I have a sit down with the Reservations Manager to go through the possible booking steps for the new system and get her input on them. Finally, I pull out our 2020 strategy as we are in on Saturday with all the board and volunteers and council members having a workshop about where we are with our ten year plan.
Portrait of Felix Nadar (1820-1910), Photographer and Aeronautical Scientist

I have not included the countless emails that are replied to instantly or those that go no nowhere. I have not gone into the constant strategising and taking into consideration of every department before most actions are taken . Nor have I included the parts of the job that are of no interest such as daily routines like having breakfast with customers, top secret projects and blazing rows with people due to miscommunication. What I have outlined above are only the broad strokes of the job. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what this Digital Marketing Manager gets up to on a weekly basis.

Wait..what? Everything I know about digital marketing I learned in theatre?

I have been immersing myself in digital marketing lately (mostly content creation for social media, blogs, email newsletters, and web pages). When I get into it, I really get into it. So much so that I have noticed that when I get interrupted writing, my reaction is very much like my son when I tell him to pause his Playstation game to eat his dinner. It is what I call the “Wait..What?” response.  When it happens, I usually just need to ask a few simple questions, get a few basic answers and then I immerse myself in the new topic. However, it did get me thinking about my reaction.

Do Not Interrupt Image Credit - Flickr: SDASM Archives Creative Commons

Do Not Interrupt
Image Credit – Flickr: SDASM Archives
Creative Commons

I used to watch actors work every day in a previous career. They would come into a rehearsal room all self-conscious and awkward, and then proceed to strip away all their assumptions until they could inhabit a character. It usually took them a few weeks to do this but when it was done, once the actor went on stage you could not see where they ended and the new character began.
Digital Marketing is similar. We work with brands, and what are they but the human personification of organisations? We work with characters, or personas. Like actors, we have to figure out what motivates them. What is their purpose in each different situation? When digital works well, it feels natural and authentic. The language is a natural fit. We trust what it shows us, even though deep down we know that it is fleeting and created.

actor on stage

What is his motivation?
Image Credit – Flickr: State Library Queensland
Creative Commons

The Digital World is actually a lot like theatre. They both create virtual spaces where the normal rules do not apply. They are both dependent on technical folk who never see the light of day until the project is done or the coffee runs out. Theatre has sets and lights to create the space. The Digital World has wireframes and pixels. Theatre has that constant tension between art and bums on seats. We are torn between design and traffic. They make connections. We make links.

stage door

Image Credit – Flickr: State Library of New South Wales
Creative Commons

Like all good theatre shows, digital is very rarely the result of just one person. It needs a lot of input and collaboration. How other people see the character is important. Decisions about emphasis are crucial. There is nothing worse than a brand that forgets its passion and just starts selling. It is forced and wooden and amateurish. During the rehearsal process, actors have to put the characters on the floor. They take them off the page and get them moving about, trying different things. There is a culture of trying and experimenting and failing harder that creates the magic in theatre. They use the rehearsal room because they understand that allowing people to show vulnerability creates something stronger.

motion picture scene

Image Credit – Flickr: Florida Memory
Creative Commons

Something similar happens on the digital stage. The best companies break the rules. As a Twitter friend of mine said recently, there is no template for a spark. There might not be, but we can create conditions where the spark has a good chance of catching fire. Apply pressure. Add friction or conflict. Ensure there is plenty of oxygen. Then drag your material across the same surface repeatedly and see what happens. It works for me.

shakespeare - growth hacker
In the meantime, I have a newsletter to write.

Telepathic Technology

When I was growing up I was a big fan of science fiction. A lot of the books that I read had some sort of flying car as standard. By the year 2000, we were supposed to have flying cars everywhere. Instead we got a computer bug which never happened and really small phones.

The other technology which featured in the books I read was something that nobody expected but which has appeared as a tech trend this year – telepathic technology. We already have technology that can track changes in human physiological systems and respond in ways that change behaviour. Wearable technologies and the monitoring of personal data (transactional, physiological, behavioural or emotional) already allows for that feedback.
Monitoring technologies are not new. Since about 1200AD we have been using crystals that were set in bone or leather frames to enhance what we focus our attention on. We use clockwork and digital mechanisms to measure the passing of time. Today we have Nike sportsbands, Pebble watches, Google Glass and the rumoured Apple smartwatch is supposed to be on the way. All of these technologies are designed to monitor the personal data which arises out of our activities and to use that to feed back into more relevant content.
The big leap has been in feedback technology. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) allows us to see what is going on in our brains by measuring the blood flow. It is now used by courts in America as a way of detecting if someone is telling the truth or not. Electroencelography (EEG) taps into the electrical resistivity of our scalps. Combine the two of these and you have telepathic technology. Last year, two researchers divided by the Atlantic but linked by EEG caps managed to use thought to communicate. There was no external signal that was sent by one and acted upon by the other. This was an internal thought from one brain to another which caused an involuntary physical action to occur. One guy imagined pressing a button while the other guy felt his finger move downward in a button pressing motion.

eeg cap

Anything related to the human mind and psychology will be of interest to those in a number of different fields, most noticeably affective computing (Techtarget, 2013), HCI, medical health and the military. DARPA are currently prototyping an early warning telepathic system to ease the strain on soldiers by using radar and camera technology to detect danger on the horizon. In the past this would often miss possible threats but the combination of an EEG helmet is returning a 100% success rate because it utilises the inbuilt mechanisms of the brain while also ensuring that the soldier remains alert and calm (Darpa, 2012). Stress reduction is an area where telepathic technologies are already being used. New headbands like Muse and Emotiv train the brain and relax the user. By linking to an app, the user is connected to audio content of a storm and by calming the mind, the wind will die down in their ears (The Spec, 2014).
MIT have developed telepathic technology for addicts and sufferers of PSTD which incorporates wearable technology that recognises crisis moments and intervenes with appropriate digital content and social networking messages designed to calm the patient (MIT, 2013). Autism researchers are also utilising it to help children make connections and communicate in different ways.
While telepathic technologies are expensive at present, they are starting to come down in price. Toy manufacturers were quick to use them for gaming. MIT have developed a gesture guitar which allows musicians to manipulate sounds. There are also audio headsets that plays music that mirrors the mood it is reading from your brain. Game manufacturers are creating brain wave games. Mattel have a mind powered ball game called Mindflex which moves a foam ball along a path by concentrating. There is also a “Force” trainer which used the mind the turn a fan which floats another foam ball in the air.
Retail were quick to see the benefits of monitoring emotional reactions to products and layout. They can see what users like, how they react to choice, when they get overwhelmed and when they respond with wonder. This helps create more engaging experiences for the customer.

The combination of personal data from the user combined with targeted products has already allowed designers to create highly personalised experiences such as mind controlled cars or the ability to change digital objects which reflect the user. Perhaps the biggest impact will be on people rather than products. Our ideas of access, privacy and surveillance are changing as it is. What happens when communication is done through thought? What will we do with all this hardware we carry around in our pockets? Will it become obsolete? Will our children look back and laugh at the thought of when we used to stop what we were doing, pull out a cumbersome old fashioned smart phone and start to tap and swipe at it like a woodpecker. With this sort of technology they should be able to bypass all that hardware. Will telepathic technology turn us all into our own computers? Why bother with pesky design software? Why not just imagine what you want and then print it through your 3D printer? The potential future uses of telepathic technology are limitless.

More reading

JWT Intelligence accessed http://www.jwtintelligence.com/2014/03/10-overriding-themes-sxswi-2014/#axzz2wvQ62ehm March 25 2014
The Spec accessed http://www.thespec.com/living-story/4422069-muse-headband-may-help-you-relax/ March 25 2014
Techtarget accessed http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/affective-computing March 25 2014
MIT accessed http://affect.media.mit.edu/projects.php March 25 2014
Darpa accessed http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2012/09/18.aspx March 25 2014

SEO and Irish Pubs

I recently attended a talk given by David McWilliams where he explained his economic theory based on Irish pubs and I was reading about the Irish connection to the birth of the internet and this naturally got me thinking about Irish pubs and SEO. Websites and Irish pubs are recognisable formats for information transfer. Both attempt to make you feel like you are in the right place at the right time. Both are trusted as authoritive(-ish) sources that generate repeat visits. Both create additional hard-to-pin-down qualities (the aboutness of a website and the “craic” in a pub). Both use complicated algorithms to satisfy information queries (pagerank and the process where the most trusted result to my question about who will win the 3:45 at Cheltenham will probably come from the person that shares the most amount of drinks with me). So, as St Patrick said to the pagan while explaining the holy trinity – Let’s break this shit down.

Internal Factors
Irish pubs have a recognisable design known the world over. It will have a name over the door, a drinks counter, local characters, and places where you can rest (anything from polished wooden stools to planks on beerkegs). Likewise, websites use HTML to create pleasing visual resting places. They usually have head tags, title tags, body tags and header tags to help the visitor feel like they are at a trustworthy establishment. Layout and architecture are also important in both, as they need to be easily navigable and I know from personal experience that people move differently when in pubs and on websites. Irish pubs have niche areas where visitors get a more specific experience (the snug, the counter, the music corner, the hallway out to the toilets, old Jimmy’s chair) and it is a good idea to inform new visitors about them to help them find their way around. Site speed is also a factor. When there are large amounts of visitors in a pub, load-time can send people out the door.

Irish Pub of the Week #7

<title>O’ DONOHUE’S</title>
Image Credit – National Library of Ireland

Irish pubs are known for being full of conversation, or content. That content is best served in a natural way, using the language that a visitor is familiar with. Similarly, the content of a website needs to be relevant to a visitors needs. There is no point having content based on sport if your visitors are looking for music. That will lead to a high bounce rate (someone sticking their head in the door, having a quick scan, and moving on down the road to the next pub) and will reduce the time spent on site. If you see this happening, have a look at why it is happening.

External Factors
Although Irish pubs appear to be self-contained locations, in reality they are more like hubs or crossroads in a community. Connections run into them at the speed of a rumour. Irish pubs are defined by their links, and because of the diaspora they usually have backlinks coming from all over the world to them. Some of them can be high quality links like Barack Obama, but equally important are the number of neighbourhood links. These measure the popularity of the pub to the local community. So, if the local butcher or the GAA captain frequents the pub, you can be sure that it is a relevant place. This endorsement is vital for Irish pubs. Unlike British pubs, which are owned by corporate conglomerates, Irish pubs have owners. This brings with it an element of trust that the visitor can count on. The same logic applies to a website.
Of course, Irish pubs are famous for being social communities. They are frequented by social referrers whose primary behaviour is interaction, engagement and sharing. Like a website, time spent on site is usually a good indicator of a satisfying experience. However, it could also flag that there is a problem with visitors getting stuck or lost there. Unfortunately, this can often happen. When the social referrers are in tune with relevant content we get that unique irish phenomenon called “the craic”. This is the holy grail of most websites – user generated content, or as it is known in marketingland, earned media. Irish pubs have different types of social referrers. You get the local businessman who just wants to relax after a hard weeks work (Facebook), the gossiper who flits from conversation to conversation picking up and dropping titbits (Twitter), the outspoken argumentative one who has seen it all (YouTube), the one who looks at the past through rosy coloured glasses (Instagram), the son of the owner who tries to be part of every group (Google Plus), the nerdy one in the corner reading a book (Tumblr) and the one who falls asleep and get his face drawn on by his friends (Snapchat). The combination of all these factors creates what is known to web developers as personalisation, and what is known to Irish pub-goers as “the local”.

Patrick Sullivan's Bar

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google Plus, Tumblr and Snapchat..
and a dog pretending to be someone
Image Credit – National Library of Ireland

So, for the day that is in it, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

Digital Recipe

In this post I am going to share with you my tried and trusted recipe for creating a blogging editorial calendar for the year ahead. Whether you are a multinational giant or a multitasking mommy blogger, this involves a creative process. You will be creating content out of thin air, mixing mediums and producing digital sizzle. It will not take long. Any longer than two hours and it will be overcooked.
Let’s go!

Church & Co.

Image Credit – Miami Digital Collections
Creative Commons

1. Who are you cooking for?
This is the hardest part of the process and the one that most people want to skip because they think that their content will suit anyone who arrives at the table. Even if you blog for yourself (which a lot of people do), creating the same content over and over usually gets bland. If you have a blog already, you know who usually turns up. I suggest you create personas for them. Give them names. Research them as much as you can. Stick pictures of them on the wall, with quotes. Be a regular stalker host.

Verklede gasten aan de feestdis in een van de Parijse ateliers / Costumed guests at the banquet in one of the Parisian studios

Image Credit – Nationaal Archief
Creative Commons

2. Gather your main ingredients
Create a list of at least 5 topics that your readers are interested in. For example, for a tourism blog, they might be landscape, activities, off the beaten track, culture, food, etc. Throw them all into the pot. These are the basic flavours that you will be working with.

Fruit Venders, Indianapolis Market, aug., 1908. Wit., E. N. Clopper.  Location: Indianapolis, Indiana. (LOC)

Image Credit – Library of Congress
Creative Commons

3. Apply heat or pressure
Use questions to stir the topics. Each topic should be broken down into at least 5 smaller pieces. For example, what is it about each topic that your readers are interested in? What problems or concerns do they have about them? What are the trends relating to these topics. Why do some people like these topics and others make that face like they just bit a lemon?

4. Add your sizzle
Now put your own ideas in. What is coming up in the next year that you are interested in? Any conferences, any marketing pushes, new products coming out? What do you want to blog about? This part is about your interests. Yes, we want to hear about you. Not on and on, but if you have something of value to bring to the table, now is the time to add it. This will keep your marketing team/accountant/ego happy and create a few more posts.

5. Think about service
You added the sizzle so do not forget about the style. Or the sizzle will sozzle. This is what separates the cooks from the chefs. Would you serve a soup with chopsticks? Would you put the heirloom cutlery out for burgers? In the heat of the creative moment we can rush to get the food on the table.
A blogpost can be served in a particular way. They can be textual, audio-visual, mixes, lists, guest posts, recaps, reviews, how-tos, best ofs and opinions. There are probably more ways too. What is the best way to frame your content? Thinking about this often creates fantastic new content. It can transform a dry bloated information piece into something that jumps off the screen and flies.

Met de slee van de springschans / Sleigh leaving ski-jump

Image Credit – Nationaal Archief
Creative Commons

6. Timing
Just like any kitchen exercise, timing is everything. So too with blogging. Get your calendar out and assign each post to where it will be most effective.

Voila, you have an annual blogging calendar that is tied into your marketing objectives/personal creative desires. You have just gone from the dread of creating content to having the bones of at least 25 crafted specialities for the year ahead. You have a work schedule. You have ideas. You have sizzle, and you still have time to add in your on-the-fly pieces.

All that is left is the writing, and that is the fun part.


Image Credit – US National Archives
Creative Commons

Starfleet Analytics

starfleet academy

Welcome Space Cadet, to Starfleet Federation Analytics training.
Open up your analytics packages. Yes, they look confusing. No, you cannot break them. Yes, you must learn to use them or you will not get the Enterprise off the ground.
Our analytics package are mission geared and driven by logic. If the two are not connected you get data leak, not warp drive.

Before you press any buttons, start with your mission. All Starfleet spaceships have a mission. We do not fly randomly about the universe. Your mission can be ecommerce, lead generation, content publishing, support or branding. Each mission has different goals. It is your job to fly through the universe on your mission and report back to Earth as you go along. Let us look at how Kirk and his team might have managed their missions.


Usually you will want to beam objects down to people who want them. Now, Kirk’s goal will be to increase sales, increase unique visits and increase profits. He doesn’t really care how this happens. Spock on the other hand has no interest in that. He just wants to track the data to see exactly how it is happening. So he will break Kirk’s desires down into the most hyper relevant logical signals or KPIs. Someone has to ensure that the mission is on course and they are not just floating about in space. On this mission, he will be observing monthly revenue, monthly unique visitors and profit. Uhuru will connect Spock’s choices with targets so they can see keep an eye on their speed/direction. So she may be keeping an eye on the actual changes in numbers and percentages as the mission progresses. Should Kirk need any other help, he can also segment the information further. For example, he could ask Bones to run a paid search scan on it or he could check with Scotty to break it down by location. Finally Kirk will report back to Federation Command.

Set your mission goals

Set your mission goals

Lead Generation

If this mission, Kirk may decide to capture contact emails for a newsletter and to beam down the user a webinar. Spock would probably identify newsletter conversions and signups as KPIs. Uhuru would set monthly targets and further segmentation may be traffic source and gender (because Kirk would probably like to know that).

Captain, I detect lots of win in this sector.

Captain, I detect lots of win in this sector.

Content Publishing

This mission may be to publish a blog. In this case, Kirk would probably want to engage other lifeforms and ensure frequent and prosperous visits. Spock may be interested in observing returning visitors, audience engagement rates and perhaps if people were sharing the content through social channels. Uhuru would again set monthly targets to observe fluctuations and the reports could then be further segmented by possibly looking at keyword source.

Set clear targets

Set clear targets


Perhaps the mission is to act as online support for lifeforms needing assistance. Kirk’s objective here would be to help them as quickly as possible. Spock might choose to observe the time on site and the number of page views as this would tell him what he needed to know. Both of these should be low for a support mission. Uhuru should be able to keep an eye on how they are doing over time. Again further segmentation would be provided by looking at number of visits for each user.

Did he ask for the dilithium chamber at maximum?

Did he ask for the dilithium chamber at maximum?


Finally you could be on a branding mission, to increase Federation loyalty and counteract the Klingons. In this case, Kirk might want to back up the offline branding from the banners located on the moons in the Delta quadrant and engage with the community there. Spock will probably observe through his KPIs of branded traffic and bounce rate. Uhuru will keep track of the metrics on the visits to the Enterprise site and further segmentation can be given through number of conversions and days since visit.


Live Long and Prosper

Apologies and thanks to Avinash Kaushiks’ Digital Framework

Two Tribes

In my last role, I was the digital media officer of an education organisation. After the interview process, I asked them for some feedback on my application. They said that I got the position because of the range of skills that I brought with my library degree. They said that they wanted someone to help with information dissemination. What they meant was digital marketing. Information professionals (the new word for librarians) and marketers are not the strangest of bedfellows. Here are a few things they have in common.

1. Information Users


Both marketers and information professionals are in the business of dealing with users. Whereas traditional marketers concentrated on their product or their brand, digital marketing is all about segmentation. This is the practice of targeting messages at particular demographics. Because demographics famously do not buy products, personas are created from market research and user interviews. They include everything from possible quotes to phone choice. This sort of research is second nature for librarians.

2. Information Skills

As part of my library degree I had to study information behaviour, web publishing, web 2.0, digital media and information design. As part of my digital marketing course, I have to cover digital strategy, analytics, social media and User Experience. Librarians are primarily looking to create an engaged relationship between their users and their information. Marketers have a more focused objective – to track the exchange of value between the user and the information and to drive sales.


3. Information Technology

Both professions have changed as a direct result of technology. Traditionally, marketers didn’t exist as a separate profession until the industrial revolution. Without choice, there was no need to market anything. As mass production arrived, marketing operated on a broadcast basis for the huge numbers of products that were churned out. Mass media was the way forward. In the 1990s the internet arrived and with it search engine marketing. Social marketing then transferred the power to the user. The information profession exploded as a result of the printing press (mass produced information) in the 15th century and then followed the same trajectory as marketing from the 20th century onwards.

4. Social Information

Changes in information technology have social consequences for users. Information channels move away from interruption and towards participation. Users become media owners and co-creators of digital objects. The mass market becomes fragmented and developed into communities, tribes and niches. Marketers have to follow the crowd. Once upon a time, libraries were closed off and inaccessible to everyone except the elite. In a public library today there are knitters, children, researchers and homeless people coming in out of the cold armed with smart phones that can access complete catalogues. Future projections for both professions are looking at the semantic web, where personalised information will find the user.

5. Information Design

In a world that is cluttered with information and where the old means of communication are disrupted, it is important that there are few obstacles between the message and the user. Marketers know that people base their choices mostly on emotion, and they often get accused of manipulation because of this. They invest heavily in the visual design of the message. Librarians, at first glance, prefer logic but they too rely heavily on the emotions. One of the main theories of information design is Gestalt theory which explains how the rational side of the brain post-reasons what is happening with our emotions when we view information.

Font choice is important

Font choice is important

At present, I find myself with a foot in both camps. Luckily, both professions have been listed here in the top 10 most useful college degrees to have.

Viral Information

What exactly is happening when changes in behaviour happen on a large scale? This is what I was thinking while reading Malcolm Gladwells Tipping Point.

I found this book very easy to read and he backs up his theories about how ideas spread by using interesting examples from a range of different fields such as disease control, crime statistics and social behaviour experiments. While none of these are new (Stanley Milgrams small world experiments and the game, Six Degrees of Separation are staples of pop culture) and have been covered before in the field of information science (Grannovetters Strength of Weak Ties and social network theory) he does bring them together very well.

He argues that changes can often escalate because of three rules – the Law of the Few (80% of influence is created by 20% of people), Stickiness (what makes the message memorable) and the Power of Context (e.g. the zero tolerance approach to minor vandalism which impacted on major crime in New York). This has inspired marketers who are interested in growing earned media. However, there is still debate over whether the data actually backs up Gladwells theories. It is fluffy, but neither marketing or storytelling are what I would call exact sciences.

Tom Fishburne

Tom Fishburne

For example, Twitter is my main network and I can definitely pinpoint the connectors (those social butterflys that introduce people from different walks of life), the mavens (those who share information in a helpful way) and the salesmen (those who are good at persuading others) who populate it. Whether it is an idea, a product, a service or a viral video, these three influencers appear to be always at work somewhere in the mix. Even my own decision to read the book was influenced by the Law of the Few. The connector was Seth Godin who mentions the book quite a lot for digital marketing. The information was shared by Maria Grau Stenzel in a MOOC I am participating in about transmedia storytelling. I was finally persuaded to read it by watching a video of Gladwell on Ted Talks after his natural style sold it to me.

The question is can you identify those types and behaviours in your own network?

Evolution of Web Analytics

If the field of Web Analytics was tracked over time using an imaginary analytics program it would show that it started out as one thing and ended up as another. If you did a report on the keywords used as search terms for web analytics it would probably show technical terms in the 90s and then marketing terms later on. If your package could track who was looking for web analytics, it would show you first the IT department and then the marketing department. This is because web analytics has changed from a data driven exercise to a people driven exercise (no offence IT people).

Log Files
The first web analytics were log files which were used by the IT department to help them do their job. The main priority of most IT departments was to keep the website up and running and deal with server problems. If someone requested a webpage, the web server sent all the information over. The server keeps a log of this and it is very useful for troubleshooting by admins. The log files tracked a range of actions so it could provide a limited analysis of visitors, pages, bandwidth usage, operating systems, browser, where you came from etc. This sort of data was not very useful for the IT department but it did interest the marketing department. Seeing an opportunity, vendors appeared selling analysis of log files. The problem was that this data often gave very little real insight.

Page Tagging
In the mid 90s, page tagging appeared. This is the use of javascript to track web pages. This does a better job than log files as it is designed to give more accurate measurements of the elements on a page by tracking if the person was a new or returning visitor. Page tagging also tracks more specific actions on pages such as when a video was paused or where a person exited and where they went to. This allowed marketers to capture interactions. This was useful as it came at a time when web pages began to be more complex and dynamic. They could now create reports that were completely separate to the IT department because they did not depend on server reports and they could start to tie the analytics in with business objectives such as sales, lead generation and brand awareness.

The use of page tagging came at a time when organisations had to start justifying their spend on their web presence. Measurement is key to that. Web analytics began to demonstrate competitive intelligence and use historical data for comparisons. As the programs and packages developed, marketers could ask more relevant questions, get answers, see trends and adapt their campaign through testing and more targeted experimentation.
The future?
Einstein said – “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Web analytics is the search for what counts.

Note – This is a copy of a blogpost that I had to do as part of my digital marketing course.

Information Work

I started my JobBridge internship this week as a Digital Media Officer. It is great to be back at work after spending so much time studying. It is in the education sector so it is not too much of a shock to the system.

So far, it has been fantastic. The first day was intense. I met about 120 people and I managed to remember about 3 names. So I have a lot of opportunities for networking.

Even more intense was the amount of projects that got laid at my feet. These are the things I was working on this week.

1. Social Media audit of the organisation including setting up of facebook page with analytics, landing pages, banner ads and video ads to promote services.

2. Creation of Youtube tutorials.

3. Researching interactive display kiosks

4. Sourcing free images online that do not breach copyright

Next week we are going to start looking at redesigning the website!

Holy Moly!