Posted by: Bret Simmons | March 9, 2010

The Digital Passport

I caught a excellent presentation by Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot on the last session of the last day of Affiliate Summit West this January. I also scored a free copy of his book “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs.”

I loved his advice on how to vet the people that you hire to help you learn and practice the new rules of permission based marketing. Dharmesh suggests that you should hire “digital citizens” that have a proven record of creating remarkable content, have a well developed web network, and know how to use analytics to continual evaluate and improve their efforts.

A digital citizen is someone that “gets” the web and its new relational marketing tools because they actually use them. Digital citizens speak the native tongue because they are presently immersed in the flow of digital relational process.

A digital tourist, on the other hand, speaks the web with an accent. They have visited a number of fascinating places and can describe for you in flashy detail the landscapes and store fronts in their snapshots, but they have no idea how the natives live and eat on a daily basis. To other tourists they seem impressively well informed, but the natives know better.

Look for digital citizens when you hire internal marketing staff or seek external advice from a PR or marketing agency. Dharmesh suggests asking the following questions to help check someone’s digital passport (pp. 170-171):

1. What RSS reader do you use? Can you show it to me?

2. What blogs do you read?

3. Do you rank first for your name in Google?

4. Do you use Delicious? Can you show it to me?

5. Do you have a blog? Can you show it to me?

6. Do you use Facebook or LinkedIn? When was the last time you updated your profile?

7. Do you use Twitter? Can you show it to me?

8. Do you have a channel on YouTube? Can you show it to me?

If your prospective hire gives you blank stares or a lot of “I was planning on setting that up,” then you don’t have a digital citizen on your hands (p. 171).

You might have to check a lot of passports to find the real digital citizens among the pool of applicants and agencies you vet. But if you want to make sure your company is among the wave of successful companies built around inbound marketing, it is worth your time and effort.

While you are at it, why not give up your own tourist VISA and begin the naturalization process to become a digital citizen? For those willing to make the effort, the gates are wide open to this new land of opportunity.



  1. […] Help me out. Show me your digital passport! […]

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