Some of you may know I am a student at Western Kentucky University here in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This December I’ll be leaving this chapter of my educational career behind and receiving my degree in Marketing with a concentration in social media. I’m here to tell you that a lot of us just aren’t getting the skills we need to tackle the digital marketing landscape, and I’ve found 5 skills employers look for that we just aren’t getting. It happens that many of my colleagues at other universities are in the same predicament.
Let’s start with one that is integral to building a digital presence. Search engine optimization is rather critical, I’ve found, to making the digital world go round. Don’t get me wrong, this is an area of our industry that changes quite a bit, and that makes it difficult to stay on top of in classrooms, but how we’ve managed to gloss over it for four years is beyond me.
What To Do: Check out some free online courses and resources for learning the basics of SEO like this one over at Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/whiteboard-seo/
Earning Social Media Followers
In the classroom we are taught what to say, how to say it, who to say it to, all that good stuff. The problem is no one tells you how to earn your followers. There’s no class about generating leads, attention, or followers so your message actually gets heard. The social media courses explain how it works and what you should do with it, but it all means nothing if you’re not saying it to someone. So let’s say you come into a company who is a little behind and needs to get their social media presence established, what do you do? Well if your new hire just popped out of a university with no quality experience then they won’t exactly know.
What To Do: For this I recommend you just get your hands dirty. Read blogs, find successful startups and take notes from them, and put it to use building your own personal brand so you can at least say you’ve done it and you know what works.
Basic Website Coding
Thankfully I had one professor who ran through some of the basic concepts of website design and it sparked an interest in me that led me as far as starting my own web development company. Basic website code is crucial to the rest of your web marketing efforts. You have to line up your headlines and your copy with your ads. School teaches you how to just make cool headlines, ads, and what they should say. They don’t tell you how it should work with your website, or how to create landing pages, or how to look at important pieces of your website code that can make or break your ad efforts.
What To Do: Download SoloLearn’s mobile applications to get a basic intro to web coding and design. On top of that, check out the resources over at http://www.w3schools.com/ where you can learn (FOR FREE) all kinds of coding and practice your skills as well.
In school we cover some very basic analytics and define some key terms. That’s great and all, but it just so happens that my Web Analytics course was a gigantic waste of time because we never had the responsibility of understanding the data and making decisions. Analytics is what drives your decision making and helps you define your success. Using your data and reporting tools should be second nature to digital marketers. It is the equivalent to weighing yourself while you’re on a diet, if it isn’t working then you need to change. If you’re not able to process and analyze your own data then you’ll never know what to do and that’s where you lose your department’s budget.
What To Do: Get your training straight from Google itself with the Analytics Academy. Learn all you need from the creators of the most popular analytics tool in the world: https://analyticsacademy.withgoogle.com/
For the first time in my university career I have to blog for a digital marketing course. The best part about it is that we just write a blog about our weekly experiences. It has familiarized us with the concept of blogging and how to use popular blogging tools such as WordPress and Blogger, but we are lacking the connection of blogging and content to conversions. Without bridging the gap between blogging, or content in general, and website conversions we have no purpose for content marketing and we’re just learning how to write a journal. Blogging isn’t as crucial as it once was, but it sure helps the whole landscape go round.
What To Do: This is another opportunity to get your hands dirty even if you aren’t working or interning somewhere. Build your personal brand with blogging and content marketing and see what you can do with sharing your content or hosting it on a domain.
All in all it sounds like I’ve ripped on universities, and admittedly I am a little, but it needs to be said. As a customer, I’m just writing a little review and I hope to explain or guide fellow students in directions that help prepare them for the workplace. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, recommendations, or advice just shoot me a message on here. I would love to hear from you!