Solutions to Today's Digital Divide
Solutions to Today’s Digital Divide
Solutions to Today’s Digital Divide

As much as we all learn, prepare and dedicate ourselves to professional development as digital marketers, we still live in a world that will never quite find a peaceful harmony when it comes to technology. This problem impacts our lives personally and professionally as the world and our workplace lags behind. The digital divide creates a chasm of culture between the techies and the non-techies, leaving us to feel like foreigners, minorities who have tasted the fruit of effectiveness and efficiency. Yet, when it comes to sharing this epiphany to clients, employers and even leaders in our community and government, we often fail.

Language barriers, lack of influence and the fear of risk stop the progress. By default, the status quo of what is broken remains. Innovation and implementation is delayed, again. Digital marketers feel frustrated, anxious, angry and close to apathy.

The Solution

Take refuge and tele-transport to an island where only the digitally sophisticated exist in a wireless land, lush with free wi-fi that grows on trees. Unrealistic, but I admit I’ve often fantasized of similar scenarios and have thought this utopian world may be an easier solution than being an agent of change leading others through the digital divide.

Many of us can see the big picture, drive the latest technologies and connect the dots throughout our own communities. Unfortunately, mainstream does not reflect the mindset represented by the 200+ attendees at Explore in Nashville last week. Therefore, we all must return to the real world where we are faced with daily challenges from the digital divide. I gathered a handful of takeaways from Friday’s event to help you as you navigate on your journey, beyond the digital divide.

Imagine the utopia if mainstream mindset represented the 200 attendees at Explore.

Explore Nashville Takeaways

Don’t Hoard Data

To direct and drive through the digital divide, Amber Naslund reminds us that data is not the ultimate goal. Of course, data is important and as marketers, we should be sharing it with others. It’s time for us to go from social media, and get to social business.


Marketers must be the catalyst to translate, empower, teach and collaborate in order to be effective. Also, our social media mindset needs to evolve into a social business, not limited to the external publicity side of client’s needs, but also internally, impacting the culture from within.

Do Not Serve Steamrolls

Want change? Don’t serve steamrolls. No one likes to be steamrolled. Change only happens at a global level when you get buy-in. Zena Weist recommends the three P’s: patience, proactive and parallel when it comes to reaching the champions and creating change.

Be the Brand

They’re watching you, everything you do online. John Morgan reminds us that our visibility is more important than our ability. Be the brand all the time.

Nicole Kelly, Explore
Don't speak in tweets, speak in CEO. - Nicole Kelly

Speak the Language

As Nicole Kelly says, “Keep it stoopid easy.” Don’t talk about Twitter. Speak in your CEO’s language. Goal. Cost. Revenue.

Go Mobile

With 90% of Americans within three feet of their mobile phones at all times, Tim Hayden gives us mobile advice for mobile marketing. Mobile marketing must be intimate, direct, personalized, relevant and actionable.

Don’t Forget 2P

We talk a lot about B2B and B2C. Mark Schaefer reminds us that businesses are more than other businesses and consumers. Before you can move forward on the journey, don’t forget 2P, people to people (P2P.)

Be Unboring, Grow Facial Hair

When tasked to do something extraordinary with a boring product or service, you may feel like Scott Gulbransen. Scott can’t grow facial hair, but his mustache received national attention proving the impossible can be possible with a creative campaign like The Stache Act.

Be Spreadable

Instead of thinking about your campaign infecting your market like a virus, Sam Ford puts the emphasis on the value of the ooey-gooey spreadable factors. With so much ability for the audience to publish, distribute and circulate content, marketers must let go of the control and aim for media that has a high spreadable value.

Leave the Office

Dave Delaney urges digital marketers to leave the office to really get social and network. Relationships online are good, but “they’re not solidified unless you give a handshake or a hug.”

Speaking brands at Explore

Wear Pants

Some wear their hearts on their sleeves. Eric Boggs? He wears his brand on his pants. Eric sports argyle in his attire while representing his company, Argyle. His patterned pants made an impression, proved that bold is beautiful, differentiation wins, consistency in a brand image brings credibility, humor spreads buzz and a simple smile can engage.

Be Sexy

So, you aren’t sexy? You need to rethink sexy. When in doubt, dance like Ike Pigott who stripped down to his undershirt, changed the lyrics and sang to “I’m too sexy for this blog…” His storytelling presentation was crazy-hot sexy and he got his points to stick in our minds forever making an impression. He gave a lot of tips, the tips that best personified his presentation? Be unique, be human and laugh.

Seriously rethinking sexy at Explore

Go Loco for Local

For national brands, staying big isn’t the answer. Brands that added a local approach for restaurant businesses increased fan engagement 1125% and retail business pages spiked 700%. For some, going local may seem challenging, but you would be loco NOT to go local. Kevin Magee from Expion has answers for the glocalization challenge. Don’t expect Foursquare to deliver results as only 5% of Americans online are using these types of location app.

Be Speedy

Courtney Seiter commented that the rapid rate of change allows a social media plan to be good for about three minutes. Technology and trends are changing our plans.

Hear the Tweets

Tom Webster shared an interesting statistic from Edison Research. Despite the statistic only 10% of Americans have a Twitter account, Twitter still has influence. 44% of Americans say they hear about “tweets” through mainstream media almost every day.

Expand it

What do you do when you have five panelists on a brand case study panel discussion that are brilliantly awesome, have so much rich content and represent diverse industries like a market research agency, a nationwide news publisher, restaurant hospitality, healthcare and insurance? Answer? You expand the next conference into two days, and we all win. Yes, the next Explore event will be a two-day conference in August.

Shift to Smart

In 2009, only 10% of cell phone users owned a smartphone, compared to today with 44% smart phone owners. This major shift will impact behaviors in the way information is consumed. Brands and marketers must realize this shift when creating and distributing content.

The One Who Can Persuade WINS

Jason Falls presented the closing keynote and advised the room of brain-full attendees on the number one key to success. Jason reminded us that our jobs rely on the power of persuasion. We must aim to persuade people to act in order for any success to take place.

Test It

Jason also provided a litmus test for us to take back to the office on Monday. He calls it, “The HOLY Sh*# Rule.” It’s based on this question: Does this action make people respond with, “Holy Sh*#, that’s ___!”

To move forward, change minds, influence others and achieve greatness, we must work together in real life. We cannot remain behind a screen, rely on Wi-Fi and URLs to solve our world’s IRL problems. I hope these takeaways pass The Holy Sh*# Rule and you find them helpful as you seek success beyond the screen and venture onward beyond the digital divide.

Someday the world and the workplace will not be so divided digitally and marcom professionals can find peace and harmony, wirelessly and happily ever after. Until then, I’ll look forward to gathering more takeaways from Explore in Minneapolis, August 16-17th. Tickets are already on sale!

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About the Author

Andrea Cook
Andrea Cook is a live media expert who provides key services that grow brands + buzz. With an eye for visual integrity, heart for truth and love for market growth, Andrea blends her role as an art director, editor and publisher in today’s digital, social and mobile media era. Founder and owner of The Midas Center, a consultancy and cowork space and publisher of iHEART Green Media, Andrea is a pioneer, community builder, coach and consultant for hire. Services vary, Live Event Coverage preferred. She can be reached via Twitter @andreacook.

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