Digital skills - bridging the gap

Keeping your skills up to date is a key challenge for digital charity professionals. In the third in a series on digital effectiveness, Ringo Moss offers his thoughts

Ringo Moss
Ringo Moss

In the two minutes or so it will take you to read this article, 2.7 million GB of data will be sent over the internet, over 8,000 items will be bought on amazon, 40 million Whatsapp messages will be sent and 82,000 hours of Netflix will have been watched.

The Internet moves fast, and with this speed comes the seemingly daunting task for digital professionals to keep up with it. And it’s not just the big changes like "mobile" that come along and disrupt the landscape. The daily changes of social platforms, tactics, and tools like Facebook reactions, new ad formats, Google Analytics updates, and changes to Content Management Systems all have to be captured somehow.

As Creative Strategist at Positive, my role includes delivering digital skills training to Charity clients as part of their digital transformation programmes. If someone asks me what I think of Periscope or the new changes to Instagram tags in comments, I have to know about it, understand it, and I have to be able to formulate an opinion on it; so it’s imperative to my work that I stay up to date.

I don’t think anything can completely replace in-depth training and a digital first culture, but in this article, I share some top tips for keeping abreast of the ever-shifting environment we work in, whether you are a digital specialist or just want to get a better grasp on digital as part of your work.

Creating a list of the top influencers on Twitter for the specific areas of your role is my absolute top tip, you can check into this every day and see what is being tweeted by thought leaders in your specialism.

In order to find the best influencers I use Klout and regularly check in to see if there is anyone new I should be following in my lists on Twitter. For example, if I was a Digital Fundraising Officer I would search Klout for "Fundraising" and "Digital Marketing" and if I had an interest in volunteering to I would create a list for that, and so on.

This really helps get a feel for what the big trends are, and then you can read what the main influencers are writing about or do your own research on industry blogs and publications.

To help with that, I recommend using FeedlyFeedly is an RSS feed aggregator – a service that allows you to type in your search term and it will deliver you a list of the best blogs and publisher sites for your interests and then collate their headlines. You can add these to lists, just like you can in Twitter and it keeps all of your reading in one place. It will even email you a digest of the best content every morning if you want it to.

This is particularly useful for monitoring platform developments. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google almost always write a blog post about new features or products before they send out a press release. So by using Feedly and monitoring these blogs for updates, you will always be one of the first ‘in the know’.

But what if you don’t have the time to do all that reading? Podcasts are a useful way to get industry news, opinion and advice when you are busy and can’t give time and attention to reading. Most good podcasts are 30 minutes to an hour, and the average commute for someone working in London is currently 56 minutes, so it’s the perfect time to learn.

Three of the best:

  • The Digital Marketing Podcast – Great for news, advice, tips and techniques
  • Wired – Interesting for the more general aspects of our work, including human, organisational and digital content
  • Good Digital – A brand new charity digital specific podcast that is full of good advice, interviews and tips

It’s important to accept that we can never know everything there is happening within digital all of the time, and there will always be a gap between the very latest information and what we know, but the tips above have helped me make sure that gap is as small as possible on a day-to-day basis, and hopefully they will work for you too.

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