What Is Digital Communication?

Ask digital communications professionals from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and you might get as many different definitions as there are search engine result pages for “U.S. map.” That’s because digital communication gets more complex and more exciting by the minute as tech updates are made worldwide. 

A broad technical definition that the digital communication industry might agree on is this: Digital communication is the transmission of messages from one device to another through binary code.

Technology aside, why is digital communication important? Because it enables organizations of all sizes to deliver meaningful messages to specific people, often through the devices found in their pockets.

Types of Digital Communications Channels

Digital communication technology has expanded significantly since the term digital marketing was first used in the 1990s. Professionals in public relations, journalism and advertising use digital communications to send targeted messages to different types of consumers. Here are some common but highly effective types of digital communication channels and how you can use them. 

  • Web sites provide a wealth of information that users can refer to at each stage of the marketing funnel.
  • Search engines are an essential part of getting your organization in front of users interested in your product or service.
  • Social media allows organizations to create a community where information can be shared with users and a two-way conversation can take place.
  • E-mails let you share specific information at specific touchpoints with users who opted in.
  • SMS can be effective for quick reminders about appointments or other transactional messages.
  • Videos give additional visual context, bringing key people and information to life.

Dive In to Digital Communications Technology

Earn your MS in Communications from Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications online.

Digital Communications Career Paths

Businesses from avocado farms to zipper manufacturers need to market their products to target audiences. Digital communications channels enable those companies to share information with users in real time, when they’re most likely to buy.

Businesses aren’t the only types of organizations that use digital communications, however. Channels have various uses when it comes to digital marketing vs. digital communications. Here are some examples of how not-for-profit organizations use digital communications:

  • Colleges and universities need to share tuition and financial aid information.
  • Military branches need to communicate the benefits of a career spent serving the nation.
  • Public health organizations need to spread awareness of contagious diseases.
  • Government bodies need to share messages from school closings to new laws.

Deciding which channel to use is essential, and choosing the wrong channel can have serious consequences. Imagine if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a contagious disease warning at the bottom of its home page rather than through a digital press release.

Organizations of all kinds need people who can disseminate the right messages through the right channels at the right time, which is creating a demand for digital communications jobs.

Five Skills Digital Communications Professionals Use

If you pursue a career in the digital communications industry, you’ll need a combination of skills depending on the specific role. Here are five general skills that anyone pursuing a digital communications specialist position should hone before starting to interview. 

  1. Digital and social media advertising: You should be able to execute successful campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels.
  2. Content strategy and development: You will need to identify content topics and develop a plan for promoting each piece of content to the right audiences.
  3. Channel-specific marketing: You will have to decide where to send each message for maximum visibility and engagement.
  4. Search engine marketing and optimization: You will need to create ads and web pages that get your site noticed on the first search engine results page (SERP).
  5. Data analysis: You will need proficiency in applications such as Google Analytics to measure the results of your efforts.

Types of Digital Communication Jobs

Whether data gets you out of bed in the morning or you spend your lunch break dreaming up campaign ideas, there’s a role for you in the digital communications industry. 

Here are some positions that you could pursue based on your skills and interests:

  • Digital communications specialists apply various marketing principles to execute campaigns while managing brand identities.
  • Social media specialists engage an organization’s social communities, posting content and responding to user interactions.
  • Copywriters write, edit, and proofread marketing copy on all assets, from short product descriptions to 25-page web sites.
  • Web designers bring creative assets to life, coding and formatting them to ensure a smooth user experience that maximizes conversions.
  • Video specialists enhance messaging by interviewing key stakeholders, creating motion graphics or otherwise bringing content to life visually.

Excited About a Career in Digital Communications?

Earn your master’s in communications online from Syracuse, and specialize in advertising, public relations or journalism innovation.

What Does a Digital Communications Specialist Do?

Digital communications specialists work independently and with in-house and contracted teams to execute digital communications strategies. In this role, you may be involved with each step of promoting an organization online, from planning through deployment. Here are some of the responsibilities you may encounter as a digital communications specialist in a typical organization:

  • Manage social media accounts, from posting content to responding to comments.
  • Host interactive events such as webinars, Twitter chats or Facebook Live sessions.
  • Build a database of e-mail subscribers and send one-off and drip campaigns.
  • Write and promote articles and other thought leadership across channels.
  • Update web site content with current pricing and personnel information.
  • Manage the production of creative assets such as web site copy, design and videos.
  • Identify KPIs for social media, e-mail and web performance and analyze results.

Why Should I Study Digital Communications?

Simply put, you should study digital communications if you want to pursue or advance your career across the digital landscape.

For many organizations, digital communications has become intertwined with advertising, public relations and communications. If you work in any of those fields, you’ll be expected to have solid digital storytelling skills across digital media, from YouTube to LinkedIn.

How a Master’s in Communications Can Prepare You for a Career in Digital Communications

When you pursue a master's in communications, you not only learn cutting-edge techniques but also get to see how real professionals are implementing them. A program like Syracuse’s online MS in Communications puts you face to face with communications professionals from across the country. You will get to see how your classmates and professors have used various channels to disseminate messages successfully and where they have identified areas for improvement.

Upon graduation, you will have an arsenal of digital media tools and a solid network of digital communications professionals nationwide who can assist you in identifying and maximizing opportunities.

Top Challenges for the Digital Communications Industry

One of the top challenges for professionals in the digital communications industry is sending the right messages through the right channels at the right time.

Although having a consistent message is important, sending the same messages verbatim across channels can be dangerous. If you put the same content in your e-mails and social media campaigns and on your web site, your audience may lose interest. If your messages are too dissimilar, however, your audience may question whether they understand your brand.

Your audience members want personalized, fresh content, but they want to receive it in a cohesive framework. With a master’s degree in communications, you can learn the specifics of each digital communications channel and how to use each one effectively to achieve your organization’s goals.