I started my college career as a political science major, unsure of what I wanted to do, but knowing I wanted to travel. Unfortunately, I very quickly realized that a job in politics was not in the cards for me and was left scrambling to figure out where to go from there. It was through watching YouTube that I began to get an idea of what my dream job would be.
One of my favorite YouTube channels, or series of channels, more accurately, are the Theorist channels, consisting of the Game Theorists, the Film Theorists, the Food Theorists and GTLive. It was on the last of those channels that I heard about the consulting business that the creators of those channels also run.
YouTube and other digital platforms have been growing rapidly over the last decade. Hundreds of thousands of channels broadcast each week to audiences of millions, and a lot goes into creating successful YouTube channels, beyond just the onscreen personality. That’s where a digital strategy consultant comes in.
Think of your favorite YouTube channels, whether that’s Safiya Nygaard, The Try Guys, or a smaller channel like the Super Carlin Brothers, to name a few of my personal favorites. All of these channels, and most channels with over a million subscribers, have a team surrounding them. These teams can consist of editors, production managers and, in some cases, digital strategy consultants.
What is a digital strategy consultant?
So we’ve thrown this title around a lot, but what is a digital strategy consultant? What do they do?
Theorist Media, a media and consulting firm started by Youtubers Matthew Patrick (MatPat) and his wife Stephanie Patrick, defines consulting in their LinkedIn profile as, “[working] with clients across entertainment and technology to develop cross-platform content strategies, achieve long-term audience growth, and manage their brand identity through data-driven decision-making.” Digital strategy consultants act as a bridge between content creators and advertisers/brands.
On the content creators’ side, consultants help creators build their brand. This involves developing a content strategy. Creators need to distinguish themselves among a sea of people putting out content. A digital strategy consultant can help to find the balance between the content a creator wants to create and the content that their audience wants to watch. Digital strategy consultants utilize their understanding of the platform’s algorithm to play up the aspects that will get the creator’s content more widely spread across the platform. They do this using search engine optimization tactics, employing current trends and looking at the channel’s analytic data in order to build brand awareness. The goal here is to build successful YouTube channels and media brands. Theorist Media, for example, has worked with over 150 YouTube channels, according to their LinkedIn profile.
On the other side, when working with advertisers, digital media consultants are trying to help these companies understand this new digital landscape. Consulting companies partner with these brands in order to help them feel comfortable spending money advertising on digital platforms. Theorist media has been partnered with over ten different brands since 2016, the likes of which include Google, Warner Bros., Walmart and Ubisoft. Digital strategy consultants help these brands understand the trends and viewership statistics on digital platforms.
What skills are needed to excel as a digital strategy consultant?
Digital strategy consultants need to be confident using a variety of social media platforms. Building a brand is not limited to only one platform. Utilizing different social media platforms is a great way to advertise your content to wider audiences and build brand awareness. Digital strategy consultants help creators learn how to do this, so it is necessary that they understand the platforms and their differences for themselves.
Digital strategy consultants need to excel at both written and verbal communication. This field requires participants to give presentations on the data collected or give notes on what is or is not working. Whether these jobs are done over email, over video chat or in person, it is imperative that the message is delivered in the most concise way possible. If brands don’t know what they are dealing with they won’t invest in digital media. If creators don’t understand what they’re doing wrong they won’t know how to improve.
Another important skill in digital strategy consulting is the ability to work well in a team setting. Whether it is with the brands and creators you are consulting for or fellow consultants who are working on a case with you, consulting is an interpersonal field requiring a lot of interaction with others.
Finally, digital strategy consultants need to be comfortable working with data. As I mentioned above, consultants look closely at the data no matter who they are consulting with. Part of making sure what you are doing is working is looking at the numbers. What content on your channel did well? We can tell that by looking at the channel analytics to see what got the most views or the highest watch minutes. What should you spend your advertising money on? We can look at search trends to find out what creators or trends or platforms are on the rise and are getting a lot of traffic right now. The backbone of digital strategy consulting is in the data and statistics that fuel the content being produced.
How much do digital strategy consultants get paid?
According to Glassdoor.com, a job recruiting site, digital strategy consultants can make anywhere from $45,000 a year to well over $100,000 a year The reported average falls at about $98,000 per year. This of course varies heavily with your experience and the company you work for.
Digital content strategists are needed wherever creators are, which means most major cities. Los Angeles is a hotspot. This industry may be able to be done remotely and involves traveling for meetings.
Where to start?
If you’re here, you’re already in the right place!
If you are interested in becoming a digital strategy consultant, a degree in media and culture is a great start! Having foundational knowledge and skills in production or in effective communication and search engine optimization (SEO) can give you a real leg up in this new and evolving market.