The answer to “What is a degree in communication?” has changed quite a bit since the rise of the internet. A communication degree, generally speaking, focuses on the study of communication — namely, how people interact and communicate with one another. Prior to the Digital Age, communication degree programs were limited to the study of verbal interactions and communication in traditional print mediums, like newspapers. But the introduction of the web permanently altered communication as we know it — from instant messaging to customized web content, the internet revolutionized how people share information and interact with one another on a daily basis.
Today, bachelor’s degree in communication programs still study more traditional verbal and written communication. But they also focus heavily on digital communication, helping students gain an understanding of the key concepts — ranging from data analytics to social media — that drive our society. With a degree in communication, students will master the digital tools and techniques required to not only excel in modern communication, but also to become a part of the industry’s future.
Here are a few of the concepts, skills, and strategies that communication students often explore:
1) Tapping Into Data Analytics: Understanding Web Traffic Through Google Analytics
Modern computer technology has an unprecedented level of data-processing power, and this power continues to grow exponentially. Companies can collect data about internet users and analyze it to generate valuable insights about the marketplace. The foremost platform for facilitating this process is Google Analytics, an online system that tracks and reports website traffic. If a firm does not have access to a professional who is capable of understanding the potential uses for such data, it is missing out on an opportunity to attract customers.
As a tool, data analytics is useful for the following:
- Gathering data, such as online preferences, about customers
- Identifying customer trends based on gathered data
- Organizing trend-related data in an easy-to-digest fashion
- Developing web strategies based on those trends
Communication students are taught how to recognize these customer trends and how they can use them to their advantage. Some ways to capitalize on them could include determining which search keywords attracted the most customers to a website or comparing the website traffic on multiple website layouts to discern which layout is most effective. While applications such as Google Analytics are free to use for everyone, through postsecondary communication coursework professionals can learn how to leverage analytics data to improve online customer engagement strategies.
2) The Art of Communication Through Email and Web Content
Before the internet, communication professionals likely found themselves scheduling phone calls or drafting letters to exchange information with their colleagues or customers. Today, a large portion of interpersonal communication occurs instantaneously online through emails or multimedia content hosted online. Through the completion of a Bachelor of Arts in Communication program, professionals can learn how to create a plan that allows them to use email and web content to achieve a specific result. The way these communication methods can best be applied depends on what the organization hopes to accomplish.
For example, a communication graduate would likely decide to connect with the customers of a clothing retailer by advertising attractive images of its products. If instead this professional has been tasked with improving the public image of the brand, he or she may shy away from image-based advertising campaigns, and instead consider creating a multimedia campaign that highlights the retailer’s positive contributions to the communities in which it operates. Through education, a communication professional can gain an enhanced understanding of how to deliver messages through email and digital media in ways that progress an employer’s specific interests.
3) Using Digital Marketing Strategies to Gain More Business
Digital marketing is a multifaceted process that involves using different forms of digital media to attract attention. Without a well-structured digital marketing strategy, most businesses will consistently fail to attract meaningful engagement from online customers. Conversely, the companies that wish to excel in their respective industries often hire educated communication professionals to market their products or services online through various digital media channels.
There are many software applications designed to aid in the process of building an effective digital marketing strategy. These platforms don’t all have the same features, but common features include tracking customer information, automating multimedia marketing processes such as emails or social media posting, and generating reports based on various analytics data. A business professional with a communication education should understand how to use these platforms to manage digital marketing strategies efficiently, allowing a firm to readily adapt to the marketplace when the tide of an industry shifts.
4) Engaging with Stakeholders via Social Media
Social media is becoming increasingly useful for business, as these platforms have the power to put a message in front of millions of consumers. Yet producing positive business results through social media is not as simple as frequently making status updates. The content being used on a firm’s social media page must follow a strategy to be effective. This is where the expertise of an educated communication professional becomes essential.
To successfully use social media in marketing, businesses must follow the following points:
- Interact carefully with audiences in ways that ultimately promote trust in their firms
- Facilitate engaging conversations on social media platforms
- Focus on transforming the members of the general audience into a productive and engaged community
Accomplishing these points might not be easy for someone who does not understand interpersonal communication, but a Bachelor of Arts in Communication program will provide business professionals with insight into how social media managers can use honesty and authenticity to build lasting relationships with their audiences through social media.
5) Improving a Firm’s Reputation by Building Digital Brand Awareness
A company’s brand is any noteworthy aspect of the organization that members of the public can use to identify it. While physical and digital brand awareness are inherently connected, the methods that a firm will use to improve the two types could be entirely different. Many of the work responsibilities that communication professionals will take on are likely to have some effect on their employers’ brands. Therefore, they should educate themselves on which actions they can take to enhance a brand’s online reputation.
In terms of building digital brand awareness, communication professionals would be tasked with generating positive impressions from online audiences using a combination of digital content distribution channels. In addition to planning, creating, and releasing this content, they must assess the quality of the impressions they are getting from their efforts and adjust their strategies based on those observations. Without comprehension of the process of building positive associations around a brand, consistently improving a firm’s online reputation may be an unobtainable goal.
Through the effective use of the different forms of online communication, businesses have the opportunity to connect with customers who otherwise may not have been exposed to their brands. If these connections result in permanent relationships, organizations create an ongoing opportunity to gain feedback and support from a community of patrons. By completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, individuals can learn the fundamentals of communication and how these tactics can be applied to the digital space, making them more competitive for marketing- and communication-based roles.
Now that you have a better understanding of some of the possible applications of a degree in communication, discover the potential careers you might seek with a communication degree.