The 9 Best TED Talks for Digital Marketers

The most successful professionals in any industry are those who have adopted the identity of a continuous learner. This is arguably more important than ever in a landscape that evolves as rapidly, and veers as feverishly toward innovation, as digital marketing.

Today’s digital marketers operate in a way entirely unrecognizable to digital marketers from a decade ago. As organizations of all kinds strive to escape the “sea of sameness” and truly distinguish their brand, elements like agility, creativity, and knowledge of human psychology have become just as important as the mastery of business and industry best practices.

Business leaders and marketing professionals — Take a deep dive into modern branding philosophy and best practices in our definitive guide.

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Keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest trends relating to digital strategy, SEO, and content marketing is a critical part of preserving your brand as one of the most cutting edge in the industry. It can be helpful to also tune your ear to channels of professional development through which seasoned pros and well-studied scholars lend their evolving insight. The following nine TED Talks for digital marketers have something particularly valuable to offer, no matter what phase of brand development you’re in the midst of now.

9 Can’t-Miss TED Talks for Digital Marketers

1. Seth Godin: The Tribes We Lead

Best-selling author and proclaimed marketing expert, Seth Godin, asserts that the old tactics of mass marketing are no longer effective in today’s digital age. While the internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us at large, he argues that it has, instead, paved the way for an influx of tribalism, with silos of interests to which specific groups of people flock.

To effectively lead a tribe, you don’t need everyone, Godin explains; you just need a handful of dedicated people who care enough.

Why it matters: Godin offers ample resources for digital marketers with his insight on how to tell a story to people who want to hear it, how to connect people who desperately want to be connected, how to lead a movement, and how to ultimately create change that both propels your brand forward and adds value to your surrounding community.

2. Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement

Well-known entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, uses a short, poorly shot video excerpt of a music festival to anecdotally demonstrate the details of successfully starting a movement, and he manages to do so in fewer than four minutes. This bite-sized digital marketing TED Talk examines each step of effective leadership in the evolution of a movement from start to finish.

Why it matters: Sivers taps into the aspects of human behavior that are critical to the infrastructure of a successful, interactive community, including how to transition things like fear or risk into actionable ambition. In just a few short minutes, digital marketers can learn how to nurture an audience in a way that leads it to loyally engage and foster rapid growth—something critical to establishing a successful brand that is consistently moving forward.

3. Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

British advertising executive, Rory Sutherland, recounts a robust career’s worth of humorous anecdotes relating the lessons he’s learned about how to interact with an audience’s inherent perceptions to maximize perceived value and ultimately increase your bottom line.

Why it matters: His compiled lessons offer prized insight that translates seamlessly into valuable resources for digital marketers, including how to navigate the world of user-generated content, using the tools of persuasive technology more intelligently so that we can impact human behavior. Challenging people’s perceptions in this way, Sutherland argues, can profoundly impact how we approach everything relating to brand loyalty and engagement.

4. Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

In this TED Talk, writer Steven Johnson explores answers to the following question: “What environments lead to unusual levels of innovation and creativity?” The spaces that have historically led to remarkable innovation, he argues, have bent more toward the chaotic than the structured, and they often thrive more in community than solidarity.

Why it matters: As digital marketers strive to produce ideas that help them resonate more fully with their audience, Johnson’s insight becomes particularly applicable. He helps viewers understand the value of connecting ideas to better capture the attention of their target market.

5. Renny Gleeson: 404, The Story of a Page Not Found

Former game designer, Renny Gleeson, recounts a very specific story depicting a random online experience that transformed the way he approaches user experience at large. In this four-minute talk, Gleeson examines the smallest details and experiences on our web platforms.

Why it matters: Part of establishing a well-rounded brand, he would argue, includes filling the gaps that exist in a user’s experience with something valuable. Digital marketers can learn a lot about building and maintaining a strong brand by exploring alongside Gleeson whether there’s any detail too small in the user experience.

6. Manoush Zomorodi: How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas

Podcast host and author, Manoush Zomorodi, takes Gleeson’s idea of filling the gaps of the users’ digital experiences to a more cerebral level as she examines how consumers fill the cracks in our days and how those things impact our minds.

Our digital lives have nearly eradicated the presence of boredom, instead prompting us to fill the empty spaces of our days with time spent scrolling through Twitter, checking email, or bookmarking new recipes from our smartphones. She questions the potential consequences our chaotic lives can have on our creativity.

Why it matters: A recent global IBM study identified creativity as the most crucial leadership competency for future success. This couldn’t be truer for digital marketers, as much of their success in keeping their brands on the cutting edge relies upon their ability to think innovatively. Hear insight from respected neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists as Zomorodi explores these ideas further

7. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

Best-selling author and career analyst, Dan Pink, tackles the human psychology of motivation in this TED Talk for digital marketers that’s been deemed one of the most popular of all time. Pink highlights the alarming truth that our traditional notion of offering incentives to amplify motivation is scientifically disproven time and again, yet our business models often ignore this.

Why it matters: Marketing has everything to do with tapping into the things that motivate users to take action, whether that action be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, engaging with a social media post or the like. Learn more about what motivates your prospective audience to transcend through the sales funnel with Pink’s forward-thinking insight.

8. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

Godin secured his second spot on our list as he uses this digital marketing TED Talk to tackle the question, “How do you make an idea successful?” He points out that consumers now have more choices and less time than ever—something that increases in truth with each year that passes.

Why it matters: Today’s digital marketers are constantly exploring new ways of moving past the old practices of mass marketing in which average products are marketed to average people only to end up largely ignored in such a saturated market. Godin’s ideas may steer you in the right direction as you seek to effectively drive the evolving conversation in your industry.

9. Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story

Oscar-winning filmmaker, Andrew Stanton, uses elements of some of his most well-known films—including “Toy Story,” “WALL-E” and “Finding Nemo”—to share his expert insight on storytelling. Stanton’s advice can teach us all more about the elements that are crucial to whether you succeed or fail at engaging an audience.

Why it matters: As he poses in regard to storytelling, so it is true in marketing: You must know and identify your goal before you begin crafting the narrative of your project. See what he’s learned about the value of starting at the end and working your way back to the beginning, and you’ll walk away with some fresh ideas that could prove integral to moving your brand forward and connecting it more fully to your surrounding community.

Learn from Some of the Best

From seasoned marketing pros to esteemed writers, designers, and Hollywood professionals, the speakers of these nine TED Talks for digital marketers have a bevy of prized insight to share that can help digital marketers in all verticals advance their brands to the next level. Whether you have four minutes to spare or 20, be sure to bookmark this list for future viewing.

In the meantime, there’s plenty you can be doing to differentiate your brand and drive the conversations that are emerging within your industry. Learn more about connecting directly to your audience and community at large by stopping stuffy marketing and humanizing your brand.