It seems to me that almost “all” agencies working with brands and companies suddenly are loaded with strategists… And especially online strategists (even though some of them use the meaningless expression digital strategist).
People that I look upon as solid and good designers, developers, architects, creators and project managers increasingly refer to themselves as strategist.
This must be very confusing for the customers of these agencies. Confusing because the customer perhaps asks for a strategy and really thinks about an action plan. Confusing because the customer might ask for a strategy and mean a policy or a guideline. The online strategist needs to understand the differences between all of these.
For me, an online strategist is someone that without preparation can translate and adapt any business strategy into an online strategy. The online strategist can also sequentially explain the main implications and consequences from all perspectives. A strategist always looks at everything from all possible perspectives.
I think that a good way to look at who’s an online strategist and who’s not, is to ask them if they usually make executives, owners and boards change direction based on their advices, best practice, fact and figures, guidance and enlightenment.
I believe that most people that refer to themselves as strategist and online strategist use that expression to give themselves and their roles more power behind their appearances. But the reality is that some are capable of being strategist and some are not.
The online strategist needs to think conceptually, logically and create something from nothing. Online strategists shall think about and focus on the future and adapt the wished for future state into a sequential way for the company or the brand to get there. The online strategist needs to be skilled and able to take intellectual leaps of faith that shall include all departments, all target groups and all implications… and to do that with confidence.
If you are a brand or company about to hire a strategic agency or to create an online strategy with support by an online strategist… Make sure that the strategists involved is capable of making your top management change direction or walk in the same direction. That is what a strategists role is! If you want to flavor the capabilities a bit more you could say that they need to be excellent at consuming and criticising information, that they are insanely curious, brave, confident and able make it all happen.