Every successful social media campaign should have a strategy. Each and every member of the team should be strategic thinkers. Why?
Because strategic people bring creativity, curiosity, and confidence to their work. You and your social media team needs to think beyond what’s immediately in front of you—or immediately behind you—to the bigger picture of why you’re doing what you do, consider where you want to be in five months or five years, and never stop learning.
It may seem like a daunting shift, but there are ways you can cultivate strategic thinking in your day-to-day work life and in your team. Here are ten we highly recommend:
Just because it’s not your department, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know about it. Strategic people are constantly seeking knowledge outside their channel. As Ian Lurie, EVP and author of several texts on digital marketing, points out in his enlightening and insightful white paper, “Digital Marketing Strategy Done Right”, He says, essentially, that you can’t be a one-trick pony. “We’re all great tacticians. There are people out there who are so amazing at SEO, so brilliant at PPC, so incredible at social media that they don’t see any reason to try anything else. But they keep getting fired.”
His advice doesn’t just apply to marketing and social media, but it’s apt: You should familiarize yourself with every department in your company. You have to use several strategies and collaborate across all channels to accomplish your goal or else you will fall short. Diversify your knowledge.
Strategy is about what and why, while tactics are about how. To be strategic, you have to focus on the bigger picture and allow, even encourage, others to take on the execution of that vision. This can be hard because the more invested you are in a project, the more you want to do the work. But micromanaging won’t help you or your team, so pay attention to behaviors that lead you down this path. Another part of delegating is prioritizing tasks and then assessing who is best suited to do which tasks.
Strategy is about paying attention not only to what’s happening, but to why it’s happening and what is connected. Strategic people look for patterns in the work they and their teams do and spend time understanding those patterns. If you think this way, you’ll stop reacting to specific problems as they come up and start finding root causes and addressing those.
Find Inspiration Beyond the Day-to-Day
Creative thinking is strategic thinking. Beyond learning on the job, learn from the conversations happening in your industry, and from anything you find interesting. Read at night, listen to podcasts on your way to work, and go to events to learn what those in your professional community are doing. These strategies will help you stay productive at work as well as expanding the ways you think about what you want and need to accomplish.
Have a daily plan and start your day by reviewing and adjusting it. Whether you create that plan the night before or first thing in the morning, it will keep you on track when unexpected demands on your time inevitably pop up. Remember that a schedule doesn’t mean you have to do everything exactly as laid out; in fact, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to if you work with other people. But knowing what’s coming next and adjusting as you go keeps your mind on the bigger picture of your time at work.
Focus, Don’t Multitask
Keeping an organized plan will also help with the next tip, which is to maintain focus. When you dedicate time to specific activities, you can relax as you do them, knowing that other activities have their own slots in your schedule. Multitasking has been proven to reduce productivity, rather than increasing it. Training yourself to remain immersed in one task at a time gives you more mental bandwidth to see the various facets of that task.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Don’t wait for problems or questions that need immediate answers to show up. When you think holistically and understand the skills available to you, you can start imagining and addressing potential challenges before they become roadblocks. And when you know what you want to happen five steps into the future, you’ll do better at making each step a reality while sticking to the vision.
Recharge Outside of Work
Strategic people know that thinking about work all the time isn’t productive. You’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and not going anywhere. And when you’re working 10-hour days, giving yourself some time off to recharge becomes a way to stay fresh on the job. Spend time outside of work cultivating your relationships and activities that bring you joy.
Embrace Beginner’s Mind
Strategic thinkers spend a lot of time learning about their own disciplines and about others, but they don’t assume they know. When you’re facing a new challenge, ask questions. Draw out the knowledge of those around you. Don’t jump to your own conclusions; in fact, learn how to accept the idea that you’re wrong.
Otherwise, confirmation bias, which leads us to interpret new information through the lens of a belief we already hold, will get in your way. If this is hard for you, start by simply asking as many questions as you can about a certain project or goal; try to set aside the fear that you’ll seem clueless.
Go for a Walk
There’s nothing like getting your body moving to get you unstuck from whatever conundrum you’re facing. Exercise of any kind activates the brain, but there’s something special about walking that great thinkers have known for many years. It encourages new connections between brain cells, provides a natural rhythm for your thoughts, and has positive effects on mood. Walking is a perfect way to relax your focus enough to let new ideas emerge.
Being strategic is a mindset, not an activity. These various behaviors and choices will help get you there, but you need to commit to a shift in attitude. Once you do, the extra energy you’ve put in will be worth it.
What tips do you have for being strategic every day? Tell us in the comments below!