2014-08-06

You Are Not A Strategist


Up until recently, I had been using "Digital Strategist" on my Linkedin headline. No more!

No, I did not lose faith in my capacity of devising a strategy for operating a business in the digital realm after 15 years in the field, nor have I done a major career shift away from this. I have just grown weary from the constant abuse of the word Strategy and its derivatives.
The amount of occurrences where these words were used to describe people who operate a certain basic, less-than-tactical function online has exponentially skyrocketed over the past three years.
Try repeating this: "Digital Strategist, Social Media Strategist, Online Sales Strategist, Digital Marketing Strategist, Senior Digital Marketing and Online Social Media Strategist...."

This has become frustratingly boring to the point where I thought to write a code snippet which would generate a title with the words: Online, Digital and Strategy in it and publish it online for companies to use when hiring someone.

What most of you out there are calling strategy barely falls under the terminology for tactics if we really want to give it any importance (a great deal I would call merely secretarial work...ehm...sorry, executive assistant work).

  • Posting Status Updates with pictures of fluffy cats on a tech site is not strategy
  • Putting a roller coaster picture on an ISP page is not strategy
  • Asking users to like if they agree and comment if they don't is not strategy
  • Buying Facebook/Google/Twitter/LinkedIn  Ads is not strategy
  • ...
Strategy usually involves a solid analysis of the market forces in play be it online of offline, the use of existing data to determine trends and behaviors and then calculating the risks associated with charting a path that leads to a market position that you would like to acquire. 
I seriously doubt all of the social media gurus, namely all the fresh grads who have taken a course in their overly expensive college about social media, have even come close to grasping that. 
It is largely the fault of HR people and line managers who just replicate techno-babble without any real understanding without forgetting all the wannabe media that usually aggregates and repeats the same stories you see on The Verge, Mashable and other similar sites.

At one instance a global agency that had hired us to "devise a social media strategy" for one of their clients was confused because when we delivered them the 30 page strategy study they could not find the list of tweets they expected us to prepare for them daily for the next 90 days!

The best to summ up the point I am trying to make is if we revert back to the military root of the word Strategy.  You do not need to know about "Art of War" (Sun Tzu not Wesley Snipes) to understand that your fresh recruit cannot and should not be entrusted with deciding how you move your army on the battlefield, even if he or she (along with their posse of hip friends) decided to self-attribute the title: Major General.


The Miniature Book Version of Art of War