Laptop showing Google

Digital Literacy in 2018: It’s a Given, Isn’t It?

It’s 2018, isn’t everybody digitally literate? Digital literacy may seem like a default skill in 2018, and it is if you define it as being able to use the internet and other digital tools. I, however, would argue that true digital literacy encompasses more than just the ability to use the internet and requires a broader definition.

I believe true digital literacy is the ability to find, consume and produce digital content in a variety of mediums and platforms. As digital marketers, we need to ensure that we provide value for others, our content is responsive and accessible for various user devices and needs and adheres to relevant standards and legislation regarding privacy and security.

Digital literacy is not an either or but rather a spectrum. Take my Grandmother and I for example; we are both digitally literate but to different degrees. At 78 years old my Grandmother uses e-mail and she sure loves spider solitaire. This works well for her, and compared to some of her friends she’s an expert! However, if my own digital literacy skills were on par with hers, as a 24-year old digital marketing student, I would be struggling in my studies and probably finding another career path.

So, what exactly makes a digital marketer ‘digitally literate’? Here are 3 skills I believe are critical to digital literacy for marketers, both today and moving forward into the fast-changing future.

3 Critical Digital Literacy Skills for Digital Marketers

Written Communication

We’re moving towards an internet dominated by visuals and videos, but I don’t think words will ever disappear from our screens. Even if words disappear from public digital spaces, they will still be necessary for both workplace and personal communication and information management.

Technical Skills

Digital marketers need to be able to do more than post a blog with a photo in a CMS. You don’t need to be a coder, analytics whiz or techie, but you do need to understand how these things work and what is possible. This allows digital marketers to effectively communicate with the experts tasked with implementing these more technical tools for you.

Critical and Forward-Looking Thinking

There will always be some new tool, platform or development at our disposal (if you’re not the one involved in creating it!). Digital marketers must navigate the ever-changing digital landscape in a conscientious, strategic and forward-thinking way that ensures a positive benefit in the present and future for their client or business, and the internet and society as a whole. We have seen the harm that technology can create, and digital marketers must do their best to shape the digital world in a positive way.

These are three critical skills for digital literacy as a digital marketer, and areas I am personally strong in. Through personal blogging, managing my own website, as well as my summer co-op I have developed written and technical skills. I have used local workshops and conferences as well as online resources to further explore and learn about these topics. I am a conscientious person and a big-picture thinker; thinking of consequences and how something will play out in the future is in my nature, and was further refined during my liberal arts undergraduate education and non-profit board experience.

While I consider myself fairly competent in these key areas, there is always room for improvement. I look forward to further developing my digital literacy as I continue my studies and digital marketing career.

Do you agree with my thoughts on digital literacy? Let me know in the comments!