"Thinker" by J.A.C.K.

So, you’re a digital strategist. But, what exactly do you do?

It’s a question I field at least twice a week and I’ve come to realize that I rarely answer the question in exactly the same way.

In short, I help clients achieve online marketing goals by crafting creative social campaigns and managing a variety of digital projects. I research and dig up communities, brand advocates and other target audiences and think about the best way to reach those audiences. I trendspot and think about new ways of connecting clients and brands to their target audiences and key influencers. I shoot videos, manage website builds, drive brainstorms, analyze design elements, plan blog content and drum up creative marketing and community engagement strategies across a variety of social channels. I help measure, analyze and assess the results of the effort, tweak and do it all over again. Oh yeah, and I drum up new business. That’s just the start…

One thing is for certain – being a digital strategist is never a dull gig. As I’ve specifically focused on digital strategy for the past six years, I’ve naturally had plenty of opportunity to interact with other digital strategists in the industry. In my opinion, there are three key personal qualities that regularly surface among good digital strategists.

1. Flexibility
It’s easy to be impatient in our hyper-connected, million mentions and messages per minute industry. It’s also absolutely critical that a good digital strategist be patient and flexible. A digital strategist at an agency will typically be pulled into five or six completely different projects on any given day. It can be demanding not having 100% background and insight into a project yet still having to deliver input by a set deadline. That’s also what keeps the job exciting and challenging at the same time. My biggest piece of advice for any aspiring digital strategist is to make every effort to get your hands on as many projects as possible. The learnings across different brands and industries will be invaluable down the line.

2. Creativity
Digital strategists are most frequently utilized at agencies to manage particular online marketing projects to support account teams around an integrated communications strategy. Personally, I source creativity from a variety of channels at all points throughout my day and through a LOT of reading and analysis. Oddly enough, most ideas for projects I work on rarely surface during brainstorms or on demand but instead often bubble up while driving, surfing the Web on my own time, working out, or doing something completely non-work related. The end point being that it helps tremendously if you’re rooted in thinking outside the box and good at inspiring and training others on your team to think differently. You will thrive if you are someone that constantly thinks ahead and looks at things from a unique perspective. Proactive creativity is often a distinguishing factor that elevates a digital strategist from good to great.

3. Drive
There is a reason that most digital strategists seem as though they are online or connected at all times. They are.
Some of this certainly stems from the nature of the industry but strong digital strategists have a natural drive and passion to learn about new trends and gather insight well ahead of the curve. We want to be the first ones to apply a new effective creative strategy or tactic that will help our clients achieve their goals. As a result, you often see digital strategists running multiple blogs on their own or actively creating content across the Web to gather, organize and share their thoughts in a coherent format.

BONUS:  Ability to Roll With the Punches
In their book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier talk about how it’s pointless to waste time creating long-range plans. It’s true. In today’s communications world, plans and priorities change in a moment’s notice and things rarely go exactly how you intend. It is a point I stress repeatedly when speaking with college students that are preparing for graduation. If you want to be successful, you need to move quick, be flexible and learn that success typically occurs when you hit 75% of your intended vision.

These three are certainly a start but what other strong personality traits do you often see in solid digital strategists?

Image courtesy of J.A.C.K.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. From my perspective you also nicely deconstructed the broader strategy/creative/design success drivers with your insights. Nice piece Scott.

    Reply
  2. Appreciate it, thanks much Ted.

    Reply

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About Scott Meis

SVP, Digital Content Strategy @ Weber Shandwick Seattle. Outdoors. Adventure. Travel. I dig the Foto.

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