Research Resources: Five Opportunities to Increase your Digital Media Knowledge

Are you always looking for ways to learn more about the vast online landscape? Who is using social media? What channels are most popular? What is expected for the future of the industry? Here are five suggested research resource opportunities to help you conduct smart searching and stay current on digital media trends and information.

1.       Go Beyond Google and Extend Your Search Engine Options

Sixty-six percent of the US market uses Google to online search, but if you explore other search engines, you may discover new sources. Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com, for example, all prioritize and organize content based on their own unique algorithms. The first result on Yahoo may be the 10th search result on Google. Varying your search options allows you to access a larger library of information.

Another way to find different types of online resources is to change the domain of your search. For example, if you are looking for academic resources, you may want to do an Advanced Search and narrow your results to only “.edu” domains. Likewise, if you would like to retrieve only governmental sources, restrict your search to “.gov” results.

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2.       Don’t Just Talk Social Media…Walk Social Media

While those of us in the digital media industry know the benefits of using social media to disseminate messages, we sometimes forget to consume information as well. Set aside at least an hour a day to read the messages of your followers. Take this time to go through all of those RSS subscriptions, also. Whether it’s reading a daily blog, watching an online video posting, or catching up on a site’s discussion board, social media should be used as both a communication and research tool to expand knowledge.

3.       Research the Research Vendors

There are many research vendors who specialize in reporting and analyzing the latest digital trends and information. They can also help discover the best communication channels. These vendors sometimes offer free demos, free reports and white papers, and discounted opportunities to attend webinars on digital media topics.

If you are unfamiliar with many research vendors, check out Greenbook.org. This site lists research firms along with their contact information, description, research specialties, and, in many cases, sample data.

4.       Read Both Mainstream and Traditional Online Publications

Subscribing to online publications, blogs, and tech sites like Mashable or Social Media Examiner is a good way to keep up to date. To ensure you have insight into the top players and the most current information, regularly do a search for the “Top Online Publications” just to see if any new players have emerged.

It is also a good idea to turn to traditional media or less niche sites. National and local news sites, for instance, usually have at least one technology section. It is convenient to read the latest headlines and then simply click a tab over to find out what’s happening on the digital media front as well.

5.       Get Back to the Basics—Books!

We work online, we play online, so it makes sense that most of our research is done online. But, don’t forget to check out available hardcopy and e-book resources. Many times, employers want to encourage this type of learning, so they may purchase a copy of the latest digital hardback. In addition, search for book clubs or groups at your local library to find digital media knowledge-sharing opportunities.

By Tracye Poole

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