digital communications hands holding a smartphone




Digital communications: Four things you need to know

By: Nicole Laidler


When it comes to marketing and communications, the internet changed everything. Where it once made sense to focus on media relations and advertising to get your message across in print, on television, and on radio, that approach is no longer enough.

Today, people are online. They use Google and social media to search for products and services without ever having to interact with traditional media sources.  And word-of-mouth matters more than ever before.  According to Nielsen, 83 per cent of people trust recommendations from friends and family while 65 per cent trust consumer opinions posted online.

All this means that means digital strategy can no longer be an afterthought. Instead it should play a key role in any marketing and communications plan, which could include a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and more.

Regardless of the platform, here are four things to remember about communicating in the digital age.


Digital communication is immediate

“One of the main things that stands out as a result of social media is the urgency around communication,” says Dan Towers, who teaches Social Media Fundamentals and Social Media Strategy at Western Continuing Studies. “People expect an immediate and direct response.”

As Director, Digital Marketing at London’s digital-first agency Arcane, Towers brings extensive experience to the WCS classroom. 

Automated chatbots may be able to handle increasingly sophisticated interactions, but it’s crucial that marketing and communications professionals ensure that customer inquiries are answered in a professional and timely manner, he says.


Digital communication is public

In the past, an unhappy client might grumble to a few close friends and family. Now they are likely to hop online and share their displeasure with a worldwide audience. “That shift has changed everything,” Towers notes. “Organizations need to put a real emphasis on customer service in digital spaces.”

On the other hand, the power of digital communication also means that loyal customers can become your greatest asset. Hence the rise of influencer marketing and social selling.


Digital communication is personal

With the ability to track every click, organizations can now direct their messages to a truly targeted audience. Marketing has become a personalized experience, says Towers, and consumers are coming to expect customized digital communication.

“If you look at research around advertising, people generally don’t really like ads – except when they are related to a personal interest or an immediate need.” 


Digital communication tells a story

We are all exposed to thousands of messages each day. “People are constantly scrolling,” notes Western Continuing Studies instructor Julia Beltrano. “The question is, how do you get them to stop? How do you create something remarkable that’s going to capture their interest for a few moments?”

The answer, Beltrano says, is storytelling. And digital media offers a powerful opportunity for marketing and communications professionals to tell stories in a truly authentic way.

In her Introduction to Digital Storytelling workshop, Beltrano shows students how to conduct interviews, create compelling visuals, and to structure a narrative to engage a targeted audience.

“Publishing a blog or a website is just the beginning,” she says. “It’s about creating an immersive experience that can be tailored to different social media networks. Even one story can live in various different forms depending on the way you choose to disseminate it.”


Digital communication at Western Continuing Studies

Western Continuing Studies offers several opportunities to hone your digital communications skills, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a seasoned marketing and communications professional, or a recent graduate.

Our Certificate in Digital Communications is a three-course accelerated program where students learn how to leverage social media and use video to tell their stories through multiple digital platforms, as well as to understand how web content strategy and usability work in collaboration with a digital communications strategy.

Our Professional Certificate in Communications and Public Relations is a seven-course professional certificate program designed for those looking to broaden their foundation in communications and marketing.


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