How Educated are your Children?

Posted by Helen on Sunday February 12th, 2017.

Ah, the good old phrase ‘digital marketing’..

Well-known in business and extremely familiar in our industry, but what does it actually mean? We’ve had a look at numerous definitions across the internet and decided to offer our own interpretation.

‘Digital Marketing is the art of product promotion via specific channels on the internet’.

Broken down, this includes the use of a well-optimised website, updated social media channels, blogging, guest blogging, Press Releases, email newsletters and niche, relevant directories. If you have children, even as young as primary school children, please take the time now to ask them what they think digital marketing is. We feel their answers may surprise you. At least that’s what happened with myself, Helen, a couple of weeks ago. Having visited St Hild’s School in Hartlepool, I was tasked to get involved with a ‘career speed dating’ event. This involved groups of four year eight pupils spending eight minutes with a business in order to ask questions before moving on to the next. The aim of the task was to give children lots of information on the various career paths they could potentially take. The initial question of every group was ‘What is your job title and what does your work involve’. My answer was always the same. ‘Digital Marketing Manager; what do you understand digital marketing to be’? Out of the 80 plus students that sat with me, just one had the correct answer, albeit vague, ‘Is it something to do with websites’? Alternative answers included ‘Is it something to do with the internet and broadband’, ‘Is it about selling phones’, the list went on. Of course I went on to explain some extreme basics of digital marketing and hopefully left an impression on at least a few children. The event itself was fantastic and I feel the children gained a lot from the activity. Quiet pupils spoke up a little and the more confident girls and boys used the time to really listen to my answers. All in all, a successful morning. I came away however feeling quite perplexed..

The business I run involves website design and development, search engine optimisation and social media campaigns. In today’s modern world, children as young as 8 are actively using mobile phones with older children taking to social media. So many youngsters spend time using aps at home and looking at websites based on their likes and needs. So if this generation of youngsters are brought up with such technology, why may I ask is this not actively being taught in schools as a strict part of the curriculum? I have to admit, it’s completely beyond me. Let me offer you some statistics:

There are currently 2.1 million people working in the digital and tech industries. By 2020 it is estimated the UK will require a further 1.2 million people with the right skillset across a range of job roles. Where are we going to get these people from? On a sidenote I feel it’s quite prevalent to mention that just 10% of the digital sector are female. Why? As one of the 10% and whilst reflecting on my career path it would be more than fair to say that the agencies I have worked in have been dominated by males. So where are all the girls hiding? That’s a question for another post.

Today I have had the pleasure of visiting Durham College. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a lady working within the IT department who was looking for businesses to come along and work with a student on their own company social media. Of course we said yes! Having put together a brief for the student I was assigned I have come away from our initial meeting feeling inspired. She had clearly taken on board the brief I prepared and done some in-depth research on our brand. The student has put together some wonderful ideas for us to implement moving forwards and I am looking forward to seeing this in the style of a presentation. The student I am working with is one of 2 females in a 20 strong class who has opted to do IT as a BTEC at college. Luckily this course includes a module on social media for business.

Research tells me that children dip their toes in the water at primary school. They are familiar with whiteboards and iPads and are on occasion privy to the odd bit of coding. What happens from this point though? As it stands, it doesn’t seem like much. Are children aware of the amazing careers they could potentially have in digital marketing should this be something of interest? Are they aware that they could make a career out of writing content for websites? Creating campaigns for social media? Building websites and applications? No, I don’t think they are.

I’m not sure how to round up this blog. It was one of those I just started writing in order to get you thinking and my point across. I guess what I want to find out is what happens from here? How to we make digital marketing a core part of a child’s education and not just from secondary school but from an early age. Answers on a postcard please..