Top Ted Talks about Digital Marketing Not to Miss

Editor’s Note: This post originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Entrepreneurs are always discussing their favorite Ted Talks or crediting their favorite Ted Talks to an aspect of their success, so why can’t online marketers do the same? While online marketing may not seem like the kind of industry where you would find an inspiring story or be able to make entertaining enough for a Ted Talk, those videos are out there; and they’re great. Digital and online marketing is full of cool and complex ideas, but if the industry is getting tiresome for you then a Ted Talk is probably just what you need to reignite that excitement in your field and learn something new.

7 Ted Talks about Online and Digital Marketing

Below are a few Ted Talks and a more detailed description of why and how you can make them beneficial for your online marketing experiences.

Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement

This is a Ted Talk you see on a lot of lists when researching this topic, but it’s one of our favorites. It’s less than 4 minutes long so it’s easy to watch, yet it manages to go into detail about the importance of creating a community and how to make it happen. In the video, Sivers uses an example of someone dancing alone at a festival (so yes, this isn’t a digital marketing example), and then goes into the importance of that second follower to create momentum. It was risky, but it was public, and ultimately a movement and community were created at that festival. The same can occur online with your own community.

Johanna Blakley: Social Media and the End of Gender

This Ted Talk isn’t quite as popular as the last one and may not seem overly important for online marketers just by the title, but it makes some incredibly important points. For example, it’s important that online marketers change the demographics they may have been focusing on before (and not just gender) because social media will change our stereotypes and more and more people begin to research online. Social media is all about making connections, so who you make connections with will change when using social media. It’s not something too many marketers focus on when thinking about posting on social media, so this talk could change the way you publish on your accounts.

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

This is a talk that focuses heavily on online marketing ideas as opposed to using metaphors or talking about something in a general sense. Gleeson is a former game designer so he has some interesting insight on 404 pages and keeps things pretty hilarious throughout. This is a great talk not only because Gleeson does such an entertaining job and it’s only 4 minutes long so it’s easy to watch, but he focuses on a topic that so many brush aside and don’t take seriously. Extra: Also visit this article to learn about how to make your 404 pages more interesting if users ever do encounter one on your site.

David Carson: Design and Discovery

Even if you’re an online marketer and not a designer, many of the lessons that Carson teaches in this talk will apply (and will still apply even though the talk is from 2003!). Design is connected to online marketing if you focus on how to communicate ideas, understand your audience, and worry about navigation. Designs need to be unique and get your message across in a clear way and not just a way that looks clear to you. It’s all about creating that communication in design despite all of the ways that design and technology are changing and evolving. If you’re looking to create a more personal touch with your brand, this is the Ted Talk for you.

Chris Anderson: How Web Video Powers Global Innovation

This is another older Ted Talk (2010) by the then head of YouTube that talks about online video and the importance of “crowd accelerated innovation.” What this means is that video is actually going to launch an entirely new cycle of people innovating and then sharing their talents through video, or “a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print,” which makes sharing ideas in this format crucial for small businesses. He discusses how you can take advantage and embrace this inevitable change.

Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

Even though this Ted Talk is from 2009, it still holds a lot of ideas that have never been more relevant-especially for online marketing. Sutherland’s talk is a refreshing reminder of why perception, intrinsic value, and impressions are so important for branding. The talk is full of funny examples and anecdotal tidbits that will leave you feeling creative and inspired.

Kevin Allocca: Why Videos Go Viral

Even if the basis of your marketing strategy doesn’t entail the use of videos, this entertaining Ted Talk still has a lot to offer. It’s short and full of Allocca’s favorite examples from his work as Youtube’s Trends Manager, but it does a good job of making the case for truly creative content. From Allocca, you’ll hear about creative participating communities online, how an audience determines popularity, and where the media fits into all of it.


Of course, there are many more great Ted Talks out there that apply to online marketers (Seth Godin and Malcom Gladwell being two of the most popular). Check out this article to learn about these and a few more great videos, and then let us know your favorite talks in the comment section below.

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