While the world was already heading toward a new digital age, the emergence of the global pandemic accelerated this trajectory. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey Global, most businesses say that at least 80 percent of their customer interactions are now digital in nature. As a result, more and more businesses are hiring skilled digital communication professionals to help navigate the new digital marketplace.
If you’re looking to launch your career in digital communication, it’s essential to develop the right skills and understand how fundamental these competencies are in today’s business world.
Why You Need Digital Communication Skills
With more eyes on screens than ever before, nearly every industry now requires an understanding of digital communication. “Everything is transitioning to digital,” says Carl Zangerl, Communication Director of Northeastern University’s Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. As a result, professions and industries that had previously put little emphasis on digital competencies in the workplace are now forced to accelerate digital skills development to ensure they remain valuable in today’s market.
9 Skills Every Digital Communication Professional Needs
Since most communication- and marketing-based positions require an understanding of today’s digital trends and tools, it’s important to consider developing the latest skills employers look for in candidates. To ensure you’re set up for success, here’s an overview of the most in-demand digital communication skills that can enhance your resumé.
1. Effective Communication
If you’re going to pursue a career in digital communication, mastering both written and verbal communication skills is essential. The good news is that this skill is one of the most common skills prospective employers look for on a resumé. In fact, according to Inc., nearly 75 percent of employers reported wanting candidates with strong communication skills—particularly in writing.
Marketing is about capturing consumers’ attention and persuading them to take action. This has become increasingly challenging in the digital age, where the average reader’s attention span has greatly diminished. “Professionals need to be able to capture the reader’s attention on a digital medium,” Zangerl says. Therefore, you must be able to create compelling written content that’s conducive to channels such as social media platforms and podcasts.
Unlike other professions that require verbal communication skills for presentations and collaborating with fellow team members, individuals working in digital communication need these skills to build and maintain professional relationships as well. Whether the relationships are with clients or consumers, many digital communication careers depend on strong connections to succeed. Therefore, being articulate clearly and persuasively is essential to success in this field.
The ability to create engaging and visually appealing images in marketing and communication careers is so important in today’s digital world. As a result, companies are hiring more graphic and web designers to help launch their new digital communication strategies. These careers often require some education focusing on design techniques, methodologies, and software (e.g., Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator). In fact, according to Zippia, 68 percent of graphic designers earn a bachelor’s degree before entering the field.
While marketing doesn’t only involve digital communication, many common careers in the field, such as public relations specialist, copywriter, and brand manager, use several aspects of marketing in their everyday work. Employers seek candidates with marketing skills, including experience in product launches, marketing strategy implementation, content management systems, and public speaking events. Including these skills on your resumé can help you stand out from other candidates who have little to no marketing experience.
3. Web Analytics
The effectiveness of a marketing campaign is almost always measured by website traffic data. Important data points to consider include:
- How users navigate a website
- Which content customers engage with
- What users click on
- How/why/where users exit the site
- Which calls-to-action customers respond to
Translating and understanding the information gathered in web analytics is a vital but often overlooked skill in digital communication. Pulling reports, communicating findings to the client, and optimizing a company’s strategy or goals are common responsibilities of higher-level communication professionals. Therefore, web and data analytics are crucial to become a well-rounded digital communication professional.
4. Public Relations
As companies and organizations shift their resources toward the digital marketplace, the demand for public relations specialists has skyrocketed. With so many different communication and social channels, most digital communication professionals are expected to navigate common challenges around public image, a company’s online presence, and brand. Consider developing this versatile communication skill if you want your resumé to stand out.
5. Content Creation and Management
Content creation is one of the key actions that drives interest and community engagement. Therefore, the vast majority of digital communication professionals need an understanding of how to create a compelling content plan and manage the logistics of deploying said content. This requires a focused and analytically driven mind that can manage multiple multimedia projects and execute them to completion.
6. Team Collaboration
According to Ed Powers, professor of the practice for the MS in Corporate and Organizational Communication program at Northeastern University, ”It’s important to work as a team in this field.” Although any digital communication professional should strive for various leadership capabilities, collaboration is an essential skill that determines the success of a project.
“It’s important to understand what comes with working with a client,” Zangerl adds. “You need to understand what the client is attempting to do and how you should engage with a client who may have different opinions.” Involving the client in your digital marketing strategy is a skill that often develops over time due to every client’s unique challenges. Digital communication professionals work closely with clients to understand their objectives, then develop a strategic plan to achieve those outcomes.
Whether you’re developing an Instagram campaign or crafting testimonials for a company’s Facebook page, digital communication professionals are telling a story. Some stories can try to get customers emotionally invested in the business, while others might pose a pressing need the audience should urgently address. Whatever format you choose, digital communication professionals must make the story compelling and clear enough to drive the audience to take a desired action.
9. Social Media
Social media is a powerful digital communication medium that influences target audiences. Social media skills are closely related to creating engaging creative content on social media platforms that effectively communicate business goals. While expertise in social channels, such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, is essential, professionals with social media skills also understand the larger business objectives to communicate effectively on a global scale.
How You Can Develop In-Demand Skills
The best way to develop in-demand industry skills is to enroll in a degree program, like Northeastern’s Bachelor of Science in Digital Communication and Media program. It’s these programs that understand and focus on the communication and media skillsets needed to excel.
“Students want core digital communication and media skills that can be applied in multiple fields,” Zangerl says. And while every digital communication professional is stronger in certain skills than others, “the key is gaining experience working on client engagements and building awareness.” These are the invaluable hard and soft skills that every professional at every experience level should always be mastering.
Ready to skill-up? Explore Northeastern’s Digital Communication and Media bachelor’s degree completion program or connect with an enrollment advisor to learn more about our online, part-time, and full-time programs.