I have also noticed other people titled as a “social media strategist” and yet their profile and background do not show any experience, training or knowledge of strategic development. Given what has been asked I have decided to define this ambiguous titled called “strategist“.
Wikipedia defines a strategist as a person skilled in designing and planning action and policy to achieve a major or overall aim. A strategist has the ability to combine the creative, perceptive and holistic insights of a strategy with the pragmatic and systematic skills of a planner to guide strategic direction in context of business needs, brand intent, design quality and customer values. Enough of the academic definitions let’s try and make this simple.
A Story About Strategy
Someone wants to meet you to discuss how you can help them with their business. They say “lets meet downtown on Wednesday”. A strategist would ask “where are we meeting and what time?”. The prospect responds “lets meet at 2:00 pm at the corner of Elm and Main Street”. The strategist would respond “Can you give me a specific address?”. The prospect would say “1102 Elm Street”. The strategist would ask “Who will be at the meeting?”. The prospect would say “Myself and our Director of Marketing”. The strategist would ask “Do you have a specific agenda you’d like to cover?”. The prospect would respond (slowly) “We want to discuss how to use social media and produce results with it?”. The strategist would then ask “how much experience do you have using social media?”. The prospect would say “We have profiles everywhere, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Linkedin group and a blog”. The strategist would then ask “what are you doing with it?”. The prospect responds “trying to create revenue with the people who follow us”. The strategist would say “OK, thanks for the information and I’ll see you on Wednesday as discussed”.
Prior To The Meeting
Notice that the strategist asked a lot of questions before even meeting with the prospect. The answers to these questions clarified the information necessary to meet and provided a background about what the prospect wanted to accomplish and how were they currently pursuing the goals.
Subsequent to getting the preliminary information the strategist would then do his/her homework before the meeting. The homework would include market intelligence about the prospects business (the value proposition and the markets needs), their customers (where they are and who they are), the competition (what they are doing and how they are doing it), their web presence (traffic,content, use of social technology and design), their employees activity on the web and last put not least what and why the market may or may not respond to the value proposition and how is it being marketed.
When the meeting occurs a good strategist would start by simply asking more questions like:
- What results are your current activities producing?
- Do you know what your competition is doing?
- Do you know where your customers are?
- Do you know what content is in context to your markets wants and needs?
- What are the key benefits of your offerings to the marketplace?
- How do your employees feel about the organization? Are they active on the web and what are they saying about your company?
- What do your current customers say about your product, service and reputation?
I could go on and on but by now I hope you get the point. Near the end of the meeting the strategist would share with the participants his/her preliminary findings to the very questions that most prospects cannot answer. The strategist would use pictures to illustrate the value of having the right data needed to answer the right questions. The strategist would then say “I don’t pretend to have all the data required to guide you at this point but I know how to get you the data and that is the first step in developing the right strategy. Without the right strategy and knowledge you are wasting time, money and likely creating risk for your brand.
A strategist knows how to ask the right questions and get them answered with data. From these answers a strategist is skilled at working with the prospect to offer them necessary knowledge and help them through the use of the knowledge to reach their goals. A strategist educates, guides and facilitates development of a road map for the entire organization to reach their aim. A good strategist then transfers his/her knowledge to the client so they can reach the goals on their own over time. A good strategist helps an organization execute towards the goal but does so with knowledge, training and a method that brings lasting value.
A label doesn’t make anyone a strategist without having the knowledge, experience, skill and mind set that goes with being a “strategist”. A strategist isn’t someone who will get you more followers on Twitter rather he/she will provide you with the knowledge of how to attract the right followers.
It is difficult to go anywhere without having a road map and directions on how to get where you want to go. Knowing how to define the road map and what routes will get you there is what a good strategist does.
How is that for explaining what a strategist does?