After around 15 years of advocating for the embrace of "Digital Marketing", we're in the early stages of being advocates for embracing marketing for a digital world. I first heard this from Mark Comerford, but like all truisms, i feel like i had heard it before. It's a nice verbal flip, of course, but it's also true: "Digital Marketing" as a separate, distinct category for marketing needs to go away, and in it's place we need to simply be marketers to people who are connected digitally across so many devices, applications, networks, and touchpoints. That is, all marketing is or should be "digital" marketing.
But, Commerford actually makes a point of distinguishing between the word "digital" and "networked", preferring "networked", presumably, because it implies what happens (we get networked to each other) instead of how (via digital means). All of us digital marketers have spent so much time talking about the "how" of digital marketing – all our jargon, our easy comparisons with traditional, our smug satisfaction about being on trend – that we haven't paid enough attention to what's really going to happen when all this stuff takes hold. More importantly, we're not spending enough time understanding how *our* behavior should change when we're all networked.
Those of us who have been around for a while owe it to others to be at our best, to ensure they're benefiting from our experience and knowledge. It's democratic, maybe a little socialistic, but we have to ensure we are acting like modern leaders connecting our peers together to ensure the effect is bigger than the sum of the parts. The best outcome for the best marketers, i would argue, is becoming a strong node in a network of likeminded marketers. We need to connect the players into the hard lessons we all learned. So, the question is, are you a strong node? Here are the questions to ask yourself:
Are you a connector? Do you work hard to make new connections to other marketers, learning from them and connecting your friends to others who could benefit from the relationship? Are you bringing new folks and new ideas into the conversation?
Are you a repeater? Do you take the signal your hearing – the message, the content – and clean it up so it can be passed along effectively? Do you make sure the flow of knowledge and info is going on to the next user on the network? Are you passing it along and getting it to the right person?
Are you communicating in a common protocol? Are you using weird jargon (um, like "Strong node") or are you focused on keeping the messaging as simple as possible. A common language helps info flow faster and makes it easier for new participants to find their way.
Are you a Hub? Are you enabling others to plug into the flow of knowledge you're seeing? Do you make it easy for new folks to get connected?
Are you a router? Do you break the complex stuff into easy to understand, easily simplified "packets" so the knowledge can flow easier? A good router will ensure the most pertinent info gets to the right node as efficiently as possible. It could be as simple as forwarding an email, or as involved as introducing one marketer to another.
Are you adding value? Whether its ensuring a good signal/noise ration, volunteering to be a hub, router or access point, there are many ways a good marketer can help drive some larger, pursuit-driven objects. But, it all starts with learning ways to ensure the rest of the nodes refers to you.
Do you create Bufferbloat? Do hold onto the information you have? Do you obfuscate, complexify, or otherwise mystify those you are communicating with? Then, you're creating bufferbloat: You're holding information back, and preventing it from moving efficiently through the system
When the evolution goes well, we all end up better for our effort. That's the network effect in action. When it's NOT done well, it's a broken network that doesn't generate strength.