Brafton Manager of Promotions & Engagement Allie Stone gives her expertise on the importance of social media marketing, effective strategies and nachos.

Successful social media: Audience, storytelling & conversation

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Likes, comments, retweets, pins, hashtags… over the past few years, the increasing use of social media in our daily lives has given us a plethora of words to add to our vocabulary. And while it may seem a daunting task to master social media and all of its components, for people like Allie Stone, Brafton’s Manager of Promotions & Engagement, it’s a passion.

Allie, who began at Brafton in June 2015 as a social media strategist with a focus on SMB accounts, knows the importance of social media marketing and how it helps create successful marketing campaigns for our clients. Now in charge of the company’s social team, Allie spends her days showing our clients how an effective social media plan allows them to connect with their customers, bring in leads and, best of all, tell their own story.

Allie and the Boston branch of Brafton's Social Media teamAllie and her team rocked a nostalgic group costume for our Boston office’s Halloween photo booth.

‘Nacho’ average social media campaign

Allie, a graduate of Syracuse University with a double major in marketing and advertising, has seen clients try to do it all when it comes to reaching their social media goals. But, she says, this is not always the best practice. Instead, companies should aim to invest their resources into the social networks that appeal most to their customer base.

“I think a common challenge is that clients want to spread themselves too thin across all platforms,” Allie explains. “It’s important to put most of your energy in the networks where your client’s audience lives and focus on there to start.”

Once businesses identify the social networks their audiences are using, Allie advises that brands converse with these consumers, not to them. If brands create a personality that can be easily conveyed across social media, the target audiences are more likely to react positively.

“Social media allows your brand to come alive. So give your brand a personality and listen to how the audience is reacting,” she says. “Become part of the group and the conversation. Your engagement will grow your audience and instill trust in your followers.”

Allie herself serves as a great example. While social media is a passion for her, another love is nachos. Yep, that’s right – ooey, gooey nachos. She’s even created an Instagram account called nacho_avg_couple, which has over 2,000 followers. It’s filled with pictures of delicious nacho combinations (both savory and sweet), and to be honest, I had to click away after looking at the account for just 15 seconds. I’m trying to save all of my calories for Thanksgiving, and this feed would probably throw a wrench in those plans.

But Allie has nailed down her audience (there’s no shortage of fellow nacho lovers out there), and she continues to give them what they want. She advises companies do the same.

One big, happy digital marketing family

However, social media is not the be-all and end-all of digital marketing. While 75 percent of companies surveyed by Clutch believe that social media is the most crucial aspect of a robust digital marketing campaign, Allie doesn’t see it quite that way.

“I believe social media is most powerful when coupled with other marketing methods,” she notes. “I think, digitally, it can be the most powerful because of its reach and targeting capabilities. But what is that worth if you have nothing to promote and no story to tell?”

To help with storytelling, social media works best with other assets, such as whitepapers, videos, infographics, blogs and case studies. This combination draws in consumers and leads to click-throughs, Allie says. When used with captivating imagery, voice and tone, these components are what help businesses meet their marketing goals.

“Social media is most powerful when coupled with other marketing methods.” 

As companies look forward to 2017, Allie believes that social media will not only boost their marketing efforts, but their e-commerce objectives as well. Several social networks are already removing extra steps from the purchasing funnel, and many others are catching on, including Instagram, which announced it has launched a shopping platform within the app for consumers.

“I think social media is quickly turning into social commerce,” she states. “Most of the time, social media influences purchases more than a retail site. Now you can purchase items directly from Facebook, Pinterest and soon many other platforms.”

“In the future, e-commerce clients may no longer need a website,” she adds.

The Grinch who creates top-notch social media strategies

When asked which character from any TV show or movie she would be, Allie says Jim Carrey’s version of the Grinch speaks to her. The sarcasm combined with the sweet and sour personality made her fall in love with Carrey’s portrayal of the classic Christmas character, and she would watch the movie year ‘round while growing up.

Allie Stone

Allie’s sassy pose may have something to do with a childhood filled with Jim Carrey-style Grinchyness.

But she’s certainly not a Grinch when it comes to working on social media campaigns for clients. While she’s had some projects she’s enjoyed working on more than others, she says that overall, all of the strategies she works on are fun, thanks to the nature of social media. And she’s always up for the challenge.

“There will be industries that are more dry, which can make it feel like there are less opportunities for engagement,” she explains. “But every industry has that group of people – it can just take a little more time to find them. Once you tap into them and join the conversation, the strategy becomes fluid, entertaining and less robotic.”

Social media use is continuing to grow exponentially, and with it, so is the interest in the technology as new social media roles evolve daily. From Allie’s point of view, those who are interested in becoming social media strategists should be willing to never stop learning. As social media changes, these professionals need to change with it as well as be able to share this new data with clients so that it can be reflected in their strategies.

And what does Allie think social media strategists should ask themselves when developing a new social media campaign with a client? They need to ask questions that focus on the bigger picture.

  • What are the company goals?
  • What assets will you leverage to meet those goals?
  • How can you prove ROI?

But I think the most important question we can all agree on is: What would be on Allie’s dream dish of nachos?

“Buffalo chicken, jalapenos, cheese (duh), black beans, corn, sour cream, guac, salsa, bacon and the baja cream from Painted Burro. Soooooo good.”

Tressa Sloane
Tressa Sloane is the Sr. Manager of Editorial Development in Boston. Born a Southern belle, she now resides in the chilly (but wicked awesome) Northeast, and when she's not learning everything she can about content marketing, she's obsessing over Elvis, Auburn football and France.

Thoughts?