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How Steak-umm Conquered Social Media

Posted Under: Social Pros Podcast
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Hosted By
10XMarketing

Anna Hrach

Convince & Convert
10XMarketing

Daniel Lemin

Convince & Convert
10XMarketing

Erika Lovegreen

ICUC Social
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Social Pros is one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world, and was recently named the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards. Listen for real insight on the real people doing real work in social media. You get the inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how companies like Ford, Dell, IBM, ESPN, and dozens more staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.

Thank you to our sponsor ICUC Social.


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A “Brand” is BornHow Steak-umm Conquered Social Media

Nathan Allebach, the Creative Director of Allebach Communications, is on the Social Pros podcast to share his thought process behind creating the Steak-umm brand persona, and the ins and outs of balancing client expectations with audience expectations.
Jumping on the Twitter scene at a time when big brand personas just started dominating the platform, Nathan admits to being pleasantly surprised once the Steak-umm voice rose in popularity.
Nathan discusses how his success simply boiled down to experimentation and how he had to apply clear-cut strategies to keep the brand persona out of the red and in the black. He also shares a few pointers on pitching brand personas and earning client trust further down the line.
Nathan also explains why it’s important for social pros to prioritize basic media literacy and critical thinking.

In This Episode:

  • 04:12 – Nathan tells us about his podcast “What’s Really Good”
  • 05:13 – How Nathan’s wealth of knowledge helped make him a social media expert
  • 07:46 – Inspiration behind the Steak-umm brand persona
  • 10:10 – The general reaction when the Steak-umm voice took off
  • 13:12 – How to breathe life into brand voices
  • 16:50 – How Nathan handled non-marketing related messages sent to the brand
  • 20:15 – The dynamics of Nathan’s relationship with the Steak-umm stakeholders/brand managers
  • 23:04 – The kind of topics Nathan would avoid under the Steak-umm umbrella
  • 26:52 – How to establish trust within brand-agency relationships
  • 30:01 – When to pitch vanity metrics vs actionable metrics
  • 31:34 – Nathan’s take on whether the Steak-umm playbook could work for any brand
  • 41:26 – Nathan’s advice for anyone looking to be a social pro

Quotes From This Episode:

“All in all, I would say the client-agency relationship is largely built on trust, and after the first couple times we successfully went viral, that trust just got stronger.” Click To Tweet
“With smaller brands, you do have to work harder to figure out how to get your persona out there and to compete with industry giants.” @nathanallebach
“Oftentimes, when you get to the high level, it’s really difficult to parse what is a vanity metric versus tangible numbers, so you’ve got to use what you have.” @nathanallebach

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Episode Transcript

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transcript was exported on Feb 25, 2022 – view latest version here.

Nathan

Allebach:

We

pitched the, the client when we were like, Hey, you know, you’re out of the budget for this year. We are down like within our free time at the agency to kind of mess around with this and see what happens. So that became the, the playground essentially to, to, to run with this voice.

Jay

Baer:

You

know, Anna, it’s funny, we talk often on social pros about the impact and the power and the inexorable nature of paid social media. But today’s episode, which features a guest who was in popular demand, many of our listeners have asked us to bring him onto the show. And here he is Nathan who used to run all the social first AUM. This is a shining example of the fact that you can still succeed massively with organic social. If you just do it a little different from everybody else.

Anna

Hrach:

Yeah.

You definitely do not have to have a ton of money to be super creative as Nathan talks through today. Because he, as everybody knows in love was the voice behind STAs, which by the way, Fairborn on this episode, we do stay fr we do say frozen beef sheets a lot, Jay, I think it’s like a 400% increase from our usual episodes.

Jay

Baer:

It

is definitely the most we’ve ever said frozen beef sheets in a social pro episode, hopefully that will not trigger an explicit warning from a podcast player. But this episode is tremendous. Nathan is so smart and the way they took this brand from, from a cold start to international acclaim in social media is a lesson for us. All. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2C B2B food brand. So, and barbarians. This is one to listen to, and Nathan’s just an absolute delight, a fantastic guest on the show. Also fantastic. Two things. I want you to download first, the highlight reel of this show of the social pros podcast. We put together a downloadable ebook with highlights from all of our first 500 guests advice, counsel, things that have changed in social over the 10 years, you’ve been doing this show. I want you to grab it.

Jay

Baer:

You

really enjoy it. We put a lot of work into it as well. Won’t cost you anything. It’s the social pros, 500th episode companion book go to Bitly slash social pros, 500 that’s B I T dot Y slash social pros 5 0 0, also a downloadable asset from our good friends at Salesforce title sponsor for the show. It is their seventh edition of the state of mark Catine report where the Salesforce research team went out and gathered insights from some 8,000 marketers from around the globe to figure out really what’s changed since the pandemic. One of the amazing stats in that report is that 93% of businesses say that they will have used influencer marketing by the end of 2022. So that’s like pretty much everybody. And there’s a bunch of other really interesting data points in there. It won’t cost you anything. I want you to download it. It’s some of the best research available anywhere. It is the Salesforce state of marketing report, Bitly slash state of marketing report B I T Doy slash state of marketing report. Bentley sounds a lot like Eley. And if that was the case, our guest would be the perfect guest. Nathan AACH from AACH communications formerly in charge of all the STAM amazingness in social. Here he comes right here on social pros,

Jay

Baer:

Social

pros listeners. You requested that this individual be on the podcast and here he is live in the flesh. The one, the only Nathan AACH, who is the creative director, Allabach communications, a family own agency in the great Commonwealth. I think it’s a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If I have, have studied that correctly. And one of his projects in the past has been the voice of STAM on Twitter, which is a very famous usage of Twitter in the brand community. We’re delighted to have him here. Talk about all things. Social Nathan, been a social pros. Yeah.

Nathan

Allebach:

Stoked

to be here. Thanks drew.

Jay

Baer:

We're

really excited as well before we get too far into the show. I want you to shout out your own show. The what’s really good podcast. Tell everybody about it.

Nathan

Allebach:

I

had no idea that you were aware of that. Very cool. Yeah. it’s not, it’s not terribly active, but it’s got a good archive of just interview using, I’d say conversational interviews I’ve done with content creators, social media managers just various public intellectuals that mostly revolves out around internet culture but also some politics and, and various other topics. So yeah, I’ve been doing it for a couple years on and off and yeah, I appreciate that.

Jay

Baer:

Absolutely.

It’s a super interesting listen. As you’ll discover in this episode, Nathan is a very smart and wise individual with a wide range of interests. And that shows up in the what’s really good podcast. So friends give that a listen, if you haven’t yet, we’ll link it up on the show notes@socialpros.com as well, as I said moment ago, Nathan, you, you know, a lot of things about a lot of things. And how did that base of knowledge end up making you a frontline social media expert. It, it feels like an interesting career path.

Nathan

Allebach:

I

I’d prefer to to call it a, I know a little bit about a lot of things.

Jay

Baer:

Fair

enough.

Nathan

Allebach:

Fair

enough. I’m the, I’m a Jackal, I guess, no expert. But yeah, it, it is interesting cuz I, I guess years ago I never really foresaw my sort of interest in, in a range of, I guess what you’d call like liberal studies topics like philosophy, sociology, psychology political science, that type of stuff. I didn’t, I didn’t see that interweaving necessarily within my work in advertising, but yeah, the, the stake of account kind of brought that to life a few years ago. So we started it in 2017 on, on the, on, we started really creating the stake of voice on Twitter and the, the way that I started to integrate my views and perspectives was really just over time. Like, I’d say it really got going in 2018. Once I started getting more comfortable with the voice and just kind of figuring out, okay, here’s my thought.

Nathan

Allebach:

But

then I have to marry that to the brand values and the brand guardrails in terms of like how to frame an issue in a way that’s not gonna polarize, it’s not gonna, you know, paint the brand in a bad light or whatever. So that became this kinda weird kinda, yeah, just bizarre dance that I had to do in my mind where I was just trying to figure out, you know, how to personify this brand in a way that was comfortable and natural to me, but also fit the brand in a way that, yeah, it was gonna get attention because it’s like it’s a frozen meat brand. So of course, frozen meat brand talking about anything other than the frozen meat is gonna be weird. But I, I wanted to, to see how far we, we could take it. So that’s kind of how we got started with it.

Jay

Baer:

Well,

you took it a long way. There’s no question about that. You’re mixing it up with node degra Tyson and, and throwing shade to him on social here’s one of my favorite quotes about Nathan’s work at Staco is the social media manager of a frozen meat company eligible from MacArthur genius grant. That that is not a, a tweet that you typically find out there in the social. So can congrat congratulations. I wanna ask you about the Genesis story here. So your family owned business Ali communications works with a lot of food brands as I understand it. And, and so you end up, I presume pitching the stake organization to, to run social was the pitch deck like, Hey, and here’s the thing, we’re not gonna talk about frozen meat, but we are gonna talk about metaphysics. That just seems like a really complex keynote deck to, to to create

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah,

like not to, I guess, make it not a big deal, but it was pretty informal. In the beginning we had been working with Quaker made, which is the parent company of steak home for about a year. We did this big launch. We were trying to re you know, they’re a legacy brand for the seventies and we were trying to rebrand them for younger audiences and all that. And by the point that we had started the Twitter stuff was, is in August of 2017. And around that period, we had run out the, the annual ad budget that we were working with them on. So we didn’t have any campaigns on the horizon or anything. And the long there’s a lot of factors that kind of went into it. But I guess the long and short of it was there was actually a Joe Rogan podcast that had come out in August that a bunch of people were contacting us about it was his 1000th episode.

Nathan

Allebach:

And

the guest that he had on had mentioned state. So people were being like, oh man, like GaN mentioned this brand, like we know you work with ’em you, you should try to do something like try to reach out or whatever. And we had no real brand presence. In social, I mean, we had a, an old Facebook account, you know, organic reach was slowly a dying of slow death at that point. And there was no Twitter presence. There was no Instagram presence or anything. So we just thought Twitter, you know, Twitter, it’s an organic platform. It’s pretty, not easy, but celebrities are accessible to reach. So we thought, you know, let’s just start trying to reach out to people on Twitter to see if there’s conversations. So that was the sort sort of window we pitched the, the client where we were like, Hey, you know, you’re out of the budget for this year. We are down like within our free time at the agency to kind of mess around with this and see what happens. So that became the, the playground essentially to, to, to run with this voice. And then from there just kind of developed as this client agency relationship, just figuring out, you know, is this working, is it not working? What’s too far? What’s not far enough. And, and we just, we just kept it going from there until snowballed.

Anna

Hrach:

That's

crazy. It’s insane. How much press and attention this has received. And just, just how much the brand has evolved from on this voice that, that you’ve helped them develop. How, what was your reaction when all of a sudden you started making headlines and, you know everybody started following and just explosive growth. Like, how did you feel, what was your reaction? What was the brand’s reaction?

Nathan

Allebach:

I

very humbling. I mean, like, I, I never would’ve thought that this would’ve been the case. I mean, and I, we joked about it early on. I mean, I’m a pretty competitive person, but I came into this account really with not a lot of social media management knowledge at all. I mean, I had been, I had been working in brand social since 2014, but if you, I don’t know for most people, I think that worked in brand social around that period. There wasn’t a lot out of cutting edge stuff. I mean, I was mostly running Facebook pages for brands doing like really crappy like Photoshops holiday posts and just, you know, run of the mill stuff. And I, I wouldn’t have considered myself a expert at all, but when I started on the Twitter account, it was right in the period of time when a lot of this stuff was taking off, like in, like I mentioned in 2017 earlier that January is when Wendy’s took off for roasting people.

Nathan

Allebach:

That

was when that like made national headlines that, that hit Anderson Cooper. So it kind of became this like big Twitter trend. And then in August, right when we started on the Twitter account was when moon pie went viral for their LOL K tweet when they added I think it was a hostess or something. It was, it was around the eclipse in 2017 and that went mega vial. And I just remember getting on Twitter and starting to see this stuff, which I really didn’t have much prior knowledge of and being like, this is like really cool, but like, I wonder if I could do something like this. And I, you know, I do have an ego, I think every pretty much every social media person or per content creator does to an extent. So I thought it was fun to kind of like competitively jump in and like try to engage with other brands and other people and just try to make some noise for this thing. But no, when, when the headlights started coming in it was not something any of us expected and it really took us by surprise and it was really cool to see, cause I, I guess it was kind of the, the realization moment where we were like, oh, I guess, you know, there is still space to, to stand out with, within this sort of brand Twitter ecosystem. So yeah, it was cool.

Anna

Hrach:

Yeah.

I kudos to, to everything and all of the recognition, it’s, it’s huge, but I think one of the things that you highlighted that I love, especially, I also have a background with, with CPG and, you know, being on the agency side. And one of the things that I think you highlighted that it’s easy to think from the outside at these brands just kind of sell themselves or at least they hopefully do, right, because it’s food, right? Like who doesn’t love delicious food and snacks. And there’s this basic assumption that maybe it’s easier, but you highlighted it perfectly where a lot of times there’s this incredibly strong brand voice, but then how does that actually come to life in real ways, in authentic ways? I, in, in genuine ways. And that’s a lot tougher than it looks to give a brand a personality that still ladders back to that. So how do you, I know you touched on it a little bit with how you did it with Stams, but how do you typically go through that process of evolving that voice and expanding it in ways that are genuine and authentic still to the master brand?

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah,

no, that’s a great question. And I think for me, it really largely starts with text based persona development. And I think that’s why Twitter is such a powerful tool because Twitter, to me, it’s almost like the, the reemergence of the mascot, you know, like the, the eighties and the nineties, when that was super popular with, you know, serial brands and fast food brands. And with Twitter, it’s like, yeah, you, you might not have the, you know, Tony, the tiger or whatever, but you have this account that is clearly acting like a person and it’s tweeting personable content out there every day, trying to engage an audience around it. And I think using that as a kind of a baseline to then develop those assets into other platforms is really key. And the gives you an opportunity to play around and just figure out, you know, what, what would this brand sound like?

Nathan

Allebach:

You

know, if it was a mascot or what would this brand sound like? You know, cause talking about steak, like I said, and you, you just hinted this as well. I mean, a lot of people come to this stuff being like it’s frozen meat, like just talk about frozen meat. And I think that is true to an, that, and like some brands have the, the Lu I don’t wanna say luxury, but the they’re the, some brands are so iconic and have such a, a presence that they’re able to solely just focus in on what they are. And that’s enough to like, create like a gravitational pool for the rest of the brands. Yeah. They, they have to play outside the box and, and figure out, you know, what’s gonna get attention from people cuz it’s just not enough. So I think just it’s a, it’s a tension, it’s a push and pull of just figuring out, you know, is like, what is the history of this brand?

Nathan

Allebach:

Who

are the founders? Whereas is there a geographical area that we can hone in on that we’re from is there like values from within the company, things that we’ve done causes we’ve donated to just any kind of history that we can highlight there’s a meal or, or just memes. I mean, like with, Wendy’s like talking about the, the fresh over frozen type of thing, you know, like there’s just things that naturally resonate with people with, with, and then you can kind of discover that like by interacting with customer or just even just posting online, eventually you start to get feedback that determines, okay. Just like a, just like a comedian comes up with a bit and then kind of runs with that bit throughout their career at, in and out, you know, within comedy specials or whatever you do the same thing with brand accounts.

Nathan

Allebach:

When

you start to post about things eventually one or two things stick, and then you can keep running with that. Like for us with stake, it was this whole stake and bless messaging, which literally was just a one off tweet from like 2017. And then it became this kind of signoff that other people started to repeat back. And then that became part of the Brandon. So like obviously the sort of rev, irreverence, whatever you wanna call it, like the, the quasi-religious element to was not something that necessarily exists, stood within the stake and brand prior to that, it just became part of the brand in as we went on naturally. So there’s, there’s things like that there’s that you can experiment and discover with. And then other things obviously that are part of the, the current existing brands’ history that you can play around with, but, but it’s all a, a push, a push and pull. And I think social media helps create the space to discover that

Jay

Baer:

If

there’s almost a, a therapeutic or confessional nature, especially to your later work for the brand to the degree that as I understand it, lots of fans of the brand would literally DM stake them and be like, Hey, I’m having some troubles in my life. You know, what, what should I do or how are we gonna get out of this pandemic? Which is pretty heavy stakes for, for somebody doing tweets about you know, frozen beef sheets. How do you, how do you confront that? Like, do you feel a responsibility as somebody who they now have some sort of kinship with in social media to, to play that role or like, Hey, that’s not really my assignment here.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

That, that was a big learning process from being and honest, because in the beginning, when I started to get those messages, I’m, I’m a, I’m a fixer type of person. Like I’m the annoying guy. Who’s always trying to solve things and, and be the hero and in situations, not in like a grandiose way, but just trying to solve problems. And when people come to me in my personal life, which has always been, just always been that kind of individual, like within different friends groups, you know, I just, I like to be an open ear and I like to offer advice when I can, even if, sometimes it’s terrible advice, obviously you discover that years later, like, oh man, I wish I would’ve told that person to do this thing. That was really dumb, but same thing with this, with, with Twitter. I mean, when people started shooting us messages at first, I think I had this idea of like, okay, I’ll try to tackle a lot of this and try to be, you know, just like I do with the tweets, you know, try to, you know, be as neutral as I can while also offering some substance.

Nathan

Allebach:

But

as it kind of piled on over time, I started to realize, yeah, that it just, it was a weird feeling because I think there’s there’s, there’s certain figures I know who do this, like with YouTube and, and Twitch who maybe are like in real life professional therapists or something, but then they also have like a YouTube channel or a Twitch stream and they’ll offer advice and stuff like that. And it becomes this like really blurred line situation where like you are creating content and then getting reception in a way, like a genuine reception of people that have problems and want your help. And as you reply, it’s like, there might be a, an element of like, you know, genuine, you know, Hey, I’m trying to help you, but it’s inevitably tied to the marketing here, which creates a really weird situation. So the more I thought about it and the more time went on, I definitely tried to like pull back from that.

Nathan

Allebach:

Just

then would just kind of reply, you know, I’m sorry you’re going through this, you know, really hope things work out, like just kind of getting more generic because it did get to the point where some of the messages that we were getting were crazy. I mean, we were getting messages from people talking about eating disorders and abusive families and just crazy stuff that I was like, this is not, you know, I, I’m not qualified to, to get into this. And frankly, like, I don’t wanna encourage more of this. So there was a window of time that, you know, we tried to kind of grapple with that as, as sort of part of the brand. And it just became pretty clear that it was a beyond our capabil.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah.

And you even made that clear, I think it was late last year you sent out a, a piece that said, I’m not your bestie. I am a brand here to sell you frozen beef sheets, which I appreciate drawing the line here, that we are still trying to increase revenue for the company.

Nathan

Allebach:

But

the problem Jay, is that it’s all baked in so much iron and it’s so meta that people see that. And they’re like, yeah, sake of speaking to me, they get it. Like they’re, they’re, self-aware about it. It’s all part of the thing. And I’m, it’s, it’s impossible to escape at a certain point, but yeah,

Jay

Baer:

I

know youre doing something right. When your disclaimers end up being commercially viable. That is it’s the height, the height of success. Yeah. In the social media world, you, you were talking earlier Nathan about kind of early days and, and how the voice of the brand has progressed in social, your relationship with stake’s parent company and, and sort of the brand managers there was it, Hey, here’s an idea. Let me send you a proposed tweet and then they comment on it. Or is it more let’s think about what we’re gonna do this month or sort of what was the back and forth approval process in cadence? How did that work?

Nathan

Allebach:

It

was, I, in all transparency, it was just a lot of trust. I mean, there were situations where it was, as you just laid out where, you know, we had, maybe it was a, a thread of tweets or something that we were playing to talk about. And we just weren’t sure if that sub was crossing the line, in which, like you said, we would have a kind of back and forth email exchange or some phone calls and just be like, you know, is this something that you feel like you can kind of get behind or, or what have you? But most of them weren’t like that. I mean, I would even say even the Neil Degrass Tyson tweet situation like that, you mentioned earlier where Neil he had posted something along the lines of, you know, science is true, whether or not you believe in it, it was kind of this you know, tagline that he, he posts once in a while and we tweeted like something snarky that was just a off bro, and then followed it up with, you know, a little bit more commentary.

Nathan

Allebach:

But

that was literally, I was home just playing video games. Somebody sent me that tweet and I was like, man, that was a dumb tweet. And I’m just gonna reply to it. And I did not think much of it. And then when it started to take off, I had to kind of retroactively think through, you know, and obviously I had a, a point of view that I was trying was going, could have got across, but in the moment that’s not what I was thinking. The moment I was just thinking, oh, I’m just gonna be a little bit snarky, which we do once in a while. And obviously we had to follow up and create like a whole line of, of communication. Then the next day was very chaotic as the earned media rolled in. We had to kind of respond in real time to that.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

there was, was like, I, I, that all of those moments, like the most viral moments were much closer to that than like the sort of planned email exchange. Like I would just have an idea I’d feel pretty good about it. The needle thing was a kind of exception, cause that was, that was really off the cuff. But generally speaking, I would take like a couple days, a couple weeks to write an, a concept out I’d shape it as care or place. Like, can you thinking, like, what was, what is the worst possible reaction and the responses to the responses, you know, trying to, to map it all in my head to, to get ahead of it. And I would just eventually hit send, and sometimes they’d flop and sometimes they would go viral. But yeah, we, it, it would just depend on what it was, but all in all, I would say the, the relationship was largely built on trust. And after the first couple times that it successfully went viral and that they, the client worked with us and they, they could see that, you know, we had the responsible coms set up to kind of deal with the earned media as it came in. That, that trust just got stronger. So yeah,

Jay

Baer:

What

I wanna know is what are the things that you wrote and then deleted that that’s, that’s the, that’s the archive that needs to be like a coffee table book. The one’s like, you know what, no, man, this is too crazy. I can’t, I can’t do that. Even for ACOM that that’s, that’s the, the, the, the swipe file that I wanna see Nathan.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

I, I, I do have a lot of notepads and Google docs full of of that, that type of content. It’s mostly just stuff that would either veer too political, like too partisan, or it would veer too too self referential in the sense that it would all, it would leave us vulnerable to attack. I mean, like there’s certain Phyllis, like, just for example, like there’s certain sort of philosophical ideas I don’t know, like around treating people better or whatever, like let’s say that that could potentially tie back to something like animal cruelty, steaks, a meat company Staca might not be like a, you know, massive corporation that is like, you know, forming the slaughter houses or whatever. Like it is a, you know, more, I don’t even know what the, the official term is, but I mean, they’re collecting, you know, kind of leftover meat after the prime cuts to form just like you do with burgers, salsa, just hotdogs, whatever.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

it’s not necessarily like the lead offender within that, you know, the lead target, I would say within like vegan activists or whatever, but there’d be certain topics around stuff like that where we would get close to incidentally and then have to back off of, because it felt like, okay, if we try to go down this line of thinking, eventually when you get to the other side, it leaves the company vulnerable to attack. So we don’t wanna push it in that direction then there, so there’s a lot of different topics that would go down that, which cuz the account was so meta that yeah, it would sort of inevitably draw in those conversations and draw in those types of cultural media critics. So we had to be really careful about what we talked about. Yeah.

Jay

Baer:

It,

it feels like today in the social media world and this may not have, have been true in the past, but today the one unforgivable sin is hypocrisy. Like you can get away with a lot of other stuff, but if you’ve got hypocrisy people will call you on it and, and will not give you a pass. So I think that instinct from you to just make sure you’re inoculate against that. Well, what about you guys is, is probably pretty wise.

Nathan

Allebach:

And

we did still, I mean, we were almost inoculate against top hypocrisy, I would say in the sense that we we would still be talking about the sort of harms of marketing or like just kind of broadly what we, the, the topics that we would talk about even like polarization outreach, B all that type of stuff. Well in large part part to pay that to some extent, but I think acknowledging that as we went on and like continually playing into it and, and being as open as we could, it played into our favor with our audience. I mean, they, I think they largely respected that because the content was adding in value to them. I think if the content was bad and we were doing it, they would, you know, respond a partially, but because they felt they were getting something out of it, they just let it slide. So that was, we, we still even had to navigate that a little bit. I would say,

Anna

Hrach:

You

know, one of the things that we touched on just a little bit ago is that whole issue of trust and even just the client, being able to trust that you would delete some of those drafts and not publish them. Right. But obviously you, you still published a lot of things that generated some, some conversation and even a bit of controversy, but going back to that trust and that partnership, none of this would’ve been possible without that really firmly established. So how do you go about establishing that trust? Because there are so many agencies, there’s so many creatives on the agency side. There’s so many people internally in house that are trying, trying to push towards this direction and trying to get brands to be more open and have these different conversations and not, you know, to your point earlier, just post like happy holidays, Photoshop pictures. So how can social pros really start to establish this trust? How can they really work with people and, and let them see that opening the flood gates a little bit. Doesn’t always have to be chaotic and, and crazy.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

Yeah. I think it’s, it is so tough and, and we’re a really weird example just cause like I laid it out. I mean, the way our relationship kind of developed was almost it was almost like force in the sense that we did not anticipate going viral the way we did. And when we did, we had to react to it. And then that kind of created a situation where the brand had a persona and a presence that was now in the limelight for, for lack of better phrasing. So we had to continually deal with that and grapple with it. So the client was kind of pushed in to that position which obviously worked out, but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we had to pitch over and over again. So I, I get this, this line of questioning a lot of from, from friends and, and colleagues as well, which is, yeah, I, I think case studies are obviously important.

Nathan

Allebach:

Like

if you can put together, whether it’s, you know, videos that agencies or brands publish on Uber, their website, you know, just showing that this type of thing, whether it’s Twitter, persona, TikTok, whatever it worked in their favor in some way, obviously going in with the empirical data to, to line up with a, a higher up exec or C level or whoever you’re trying to pitch to is super important. But I think also the other side of that is just like being a, able to communicate the overall value that Brandon and messaging brings to the company. Cause obviously most people, when you try to pitch up in those situations, you know, they’re, they’re numbers people, you know, they’re looking at sales bottom line, what is this gonna do for us? And at the end of the day, I think most marketers advertisers have an understanding when you’re building a brand, you know, those, those two things have to be married.

Nathan

Allebach:

You

know, you have to have the sort of direct sales tactics married to the brand and a messaging. The branding, a messaging, especially on social media might not one to one tie to like sales or getting product off the shelf, whatever. But it’s part of that process. And it’s part of that long term game of building a loyal audience, you know, get generating, earned media, developing those kind of like big relationships that you need to to establish yourself and like really break through the noise in whatever category you’re in. So I think you have to be able to communicate the importance of that process and the importance of building, whether social media account website and email list, whatever to those people who are much more I guess, lean into, you know, how do we target, you know, this store that has our product for these consumers to, to get, you know, these repeat buyers, whatever like that, that stuff all matters. But the two things have to be married and getting that across, depending on the organization, some organizations really only value sales and some, some, and some are the opposite, some only value branding and the flashy stuff that doesn’t really drive sales. So you can have a problem either way. So you just got to figure out how to communicate, how to marry those things.

Anna

Hrach:

So

in terms of metrics and the data that you are bringing to the table, obviously there’s still a lot of people that are stuck on vanity metrics. And then of course, as you mentioned, a lot of other people really wanna see that direct one to one to sales or as much as possible. So what is your recommended blend of helping to tell that story? Where are you looking at those metrics to make your case?

Nathan

Allebach:

It,

it, it’s impossible for me to lay out a one to one piece of advice here because it totally depends on the, the team and the temperament of the person you’re trying to pitch to. You know, if you’re trying to pitch to a more creative minded person, you’ll get in there with a flashy, creative, you know, make, ’em make ’em emotionally compelled with a story, you know, show the, like you can show those vanity metrics, you, but I think really the important thing is like showing customer interactions, showing like user generated content showing just the kind of like emotional feeling that you get from this brand. Whereas numbers people, yeah. You wanna, even if they are vanity metrics, sometimes you need vanity metrics to really push through an idea. And I think oftentimes too, when, when you get to the high level, it’s sometimes it’s really difficult to parse what is a vanity metric versus a real, you know, a tangible number that’s gonna help us in some way. So you gotta use what you have and I, and I think it totally depends on the team, the person, and you just have to figure out, you know, with, with, you know, within your personal situation, which direction to kind of lean more into,

Jay

Baer:

Nathan's

such a huge success in terms of social media awareness. But as you mentioned, also, a lot of earned media for the brand, when things gonna jump from social to traditional media, et cetera, do you think that playbook of, of just, Hey, let’s not really talk about selling whatever as we’re selling, but let’s talk about other things that are of interest. Would that playbook have worked for other brands or, or is the fact that it was Staca, which is got some degree of nostalgia and maybe even irony associated with it. Does, does that make it easier to play that game or if you took, I don’t know, Charman and said, yeah, we could do it with Charman too.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah,

I think definitely it’s it’s yes. And I mean, I, I do think something like this could work similarly with a Charman with, than another established brand, but I think that’s the key, the key word is established brand. I mean, if we tried this strategy with a startup, something that had no baseline with cultural relevance or nostalgia or anything like that, there’s no way it would get off the ground. I mean, not, not no way, but we’re talking like, you know, 0.1% or whatever chance. So I definitely think have in a STR, I mean, you guys know this, I mean, you look at all the top brands that get talked about whether it’s an earn media or just having a big social media following these aren’t random startups or small companies. These are, these are the Wendys of the world, the, you know, slim gym, du lingo, you know, these are big companies that have either been around a long time, or like I said, became like really true trendy.

Nathan

Allebach:

And

the zeitgeist that, that really just kind of took off, you know, I think that’s, that’s not to discourage social media managers for smaller brands, but you do have to work harder for those smaller brands. Like you do have to figure out, you know, how do you compete with these media or like, you know, industry giants and I, and I think that’s, it’s all part of it. So yeah, it definitely depends on the brand. It’s ironic, it’s weird. It’s nostalgic, it’s a frozen meat company. So that, that juxtaposed with like giving life advice or whatever is definitely weird and funny, but it, it absolutely could work with other comparably sized of brands, I would say.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah,

the unexpected nature of it is part of its power. Right? You don’t necessarily expect the frozen beef sheets to, to give out this kind of advice. But if you’re a small brand, a new brand like, oh, small challenger brand says weird stuff like, well, yeah, that, that’s almost the expected play for a small brand. Right? So you, you almost have to, to, to swim upstream Wendy’s is a good example, right? You don’t expect your fast food franchise to to, to sort of go with the rude card as their, as their core positioning. So I, I think it’s really interesting. The other thing I wanted to ask you in terms of applicability going forward is if you were gonna start idea from scratch today, would you do it on Twitter or would you do it on TikTok?

Nathan

Allebach:

That's

a great question. I, I would almost certainly do it on TikTok. I, I, I feel that the, and I’ve, I’ve talked about this a lot recently and I there’s, again, not to not to come down really any one person, including myself within the Twitter space, but it feels like brands on Twitter have plateaued and it feels like they all sound the same. Now, like when I, when I started in 2017, and again, I was not even close to one of the first people. I mean, there were people like Denny’s Tumblr and Twitter from 2013, you know, there was like hamburger helper from way back. Like there’s tons of brands. That’ve been doing this for a long of time, but I would say that there was still a novelty up until a couple years ago, because I think there was still enough brands kind of posting cringe as the kids say, like just posting ridiculous stuff that felt like it was out of touch that, you know, maybe it was an older person on the account who, you know, wasn’t in tune with a like lingo or whatever, and they, they would inappropriately use a term or something like that.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

you had all these moments that would still like the whole, how do you do fellow kids? Like there was still this idea of like, when a brand was in touch with reality, it stood out now it’s the opposite. Now almost every notable brand has a millennial or a Zoomer behind it. They know the language, they of the voice. And it’s created a awkward situation where not pretty much every brand almost sounds the same. I mean, even the brands that have standout voices, like even like even they on the day to day kind of the sort of like meme ecosystem, like on Twitter where something trending pops up and everybody jumps on it like that red flag meme with the emoji. Everybody did a few months ago. It’s like every brand doing that now. And it just becomes this thing where Twitter is a platform.

Nathan

Allebach:

It

is, it’s amazing. Like I said, for generating a persona, I still use it all the time. Amazing for keeping up with trends, being, being able to contact celebrities and so on. But as an ecosystem to stand out that is getting harder and harder because every brand now is so in tune with the culture. And it’s, it’s just making everybody sound really similar. Whereas a TikTok it’s still open enough because it’s, it’s pretty difficult to succeed on TikTok. And I think even when you look at a brand like du lingo, which is the, probably the most popular brand on TikTok right now, they, again, I’m not, not, not bashing them. I think their work’s incredible, but I think they would not be where they were if it weren’t for the fact that they were already a meme on Tumblr years ago, there was this whole idea that the ow was evil and it was like trying to kill people or whatever.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

they played into that and it took off cause there was already a preexisting audience that knew about this meme and they were like, oh my gosh, look at the brand they’re playing into the meme. So I think it’s really, really, really tough, no matter who you are to break out in those situations. And obviously when the moments come up, you gotta, you know, you gotta grab, grab it and, and go. But I think TikTok is still a wild us enough. And the, the algorithm is still open enough that you can really get in that zeitgeist. And there’s not, there’s a lot of brands doing successful work, but there’s not a lot of brands distinctly personifying themselves. Like the mascot types are able to do, like, obviously you got sports mascots, like Benny, the bull that are just naturally general rating a following.

Nathan

Allebach:

And

then you have some of these more branded mascots, like do lingo, even like steak stigma had the has the box head that kind of becomes a character. So if you have something like that, that becomes a distinct brand. I think it’s easier to take off. And in that way, cause you can obviously get millions of followers, higher influencers and creating account creating content that is appealing. It looks great, but it’s ultimately not necessarily super branded in that, in that way that gets people like looking like, oh my gosh, I’m following this personified frozen meat thing. You know, like it’s just a little bit of a different pool I’d say to, to generate that or in media.

Anna

Hrach:

Well,

and I think to your point too, with TikTok, you know, in, in versus other platforms is that there is no ability to hide behind a tweet or behind a post, right? You have to be friends center, you have to be visible. So there is no more hiding anymore. And there it’s taken away that really like glossy slick brand layer and taken it to a different interaction level. But also one of the things that obviously seems like a massive opportunity. I love your take on this is just the level of food culture on TikTok. I feel like even still weeks later, every other post on my feed is about that baked by Melissa salad. And it’s always some food trend. It’s always some crazy new thing. Like, you know, a couple months ago it was, you know, the basically like California role in a bowl, but seems like also too, you know, to Jay’s point going back and re envisioning this on TikTok. There’s so much food culture, it would fit in perfectly.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

Yeah. I think I, I, I definitely think any, anything beautiful. I mean, it’s the new Instagram in the sense of like, you know, being a visual based app or like obviously it’s the new vine, but like in the terms of like generating that kind of cultural move, especially for brands, I mean, yeah. Food is a huge kind of interactive way now. Like even internally for us, I mean, a lot of the, the the jobs that we’re doing for different clients that, that at work around recipes and appetite appeal, whereas in the past we would primarily focus on, you know, let’s okay, let’s get out the whole, the rig, you know, set up the DSLR, whatever, start shooting it like a, like a wide screen. Now the, the predominant platform is, is shooting it long ways for TikTok and then reals, because that’s just, it’s, you’re getting more engagement it’s it feels much more person personable, like be able to kind of blog in type material.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

I definitely think there’s space for that, especially for, for food brands, but just like any other platform. I mean, there’s space for anything. I mean, my, my, for you page is absurd meme content and like nature stuff. And oddly satisfying stuff, like there’s so much space, you know, if you go on Reddit or Twitter, you can find yourself in like so many of these like small subcultures. And I think that really, to me is the, the sort of progression of these brand trends. It’s not so much the macro level where like, oh, Wendy’s comes on the scene and changes the game for everybody. Now it’s I think much more on the micro scale where like you can become the, the brand in this small category, like you’re the brand that does ASMR or like you’re the brand that posts weird oddly satisfying stuff, or like with do lingo, you know, you’re the brand, who’s like the big mascot that’s kind of clunky and weird. You can pick your thing, but I think because the four you page, it generates me, it’s, it’s individualized algorithm them for every type of person. So I think creating that macro trend is harder and harder, no matter what platform you’re on.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah.

You have to almost strategically embrace the notion that you may reach fewer people less often, but you’re gonna reach the right people more often. Right. Exactly. And that requires a level of specificity and consistency in your execution, where if you try, you know, TikTok really rewards that, right. This is our shtick. Right. And we’re gonna keep going to this well until the well runs dry. If you did that same kind of consistency of content on, on Instagram, or certainly on Facebook it just wouldn’t work. Right. It just, it just wouldn’t have the same kind of, of algorithmic appeal and not even the same real world appeal. I would certainly I would certainly follow a sta ASMR account. I feel like that’s got, got real, real potential for, for, for the future. Let the, let the new folks know Nathan, thank you so much for being here really appreciate it. We’re gonna ask you the two questions. We ask everybody here on social pros. First, what one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a social pro?

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

I mean, this is, this is the, the, the big question, right? I mean, I, I have a, I mean, as you can tell about my answers, I have a hard time answering succinctly for this type of stuff. Cause I think it’s complicated and it depends on the person, but I think the biggest thing for me is finding influential and interesting people on whatever platform you’re trying to, to operate on. You know, if you’re trying to operate on Reddit, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, TikTok, whatever, continually figuring out, you know, who are the people that are drawing me in and who are the people that could be drawing our audience in following them, cops stealing from them, you know, getting inspiration from them and then, and then going into their networks and like following people that they’re following, like, okay, where are they getting this stuff from?

Nathan

Allebach:

You

know, trying to get to the source. I think that’s the most important thing, and there’s not really any trick to get around that. I mean, it sucks because social media managers or people that work in this space generally have to spend so much excess time on these platforms, natively kind of figuring things out. But I think that, yeah, I think that’s what you have to do to, to really Excel and to really understand the culture and really get in on the ground level for this stuff at, and just developing basic media literacy and, and critical thinking around how you navigate this. Cause obviously it takes a mental toll and emotional toll on people’s lives to, to be staring at screens all the time. So just figuring out how to efficiently do that for you, you know, knowing when to take breaks, knowing how to like laterally read content.

Nathan

Allebach:

So

like as you’re through an article, you know, knowing anyone to click on a source, you know, quick, oh, here’s the word, I don’t know, quick Googling that in another tab, you know, just getting quicker and, and, and, and more effective at, at just navigating information goes such a long way in a space that is just really draining on people’s time and people’s mental health just makes it it’s. I all always say the only way out is through, you know, you just have to go through it and, and, and get better at it and figure it out and fail and stumble. Cuz if you don’t, if you just kind of stay on the outside and just try to, you know, oh, maybe I’ll just follow this big meme account, you know, they’re, they seem to be pulling in the best of stuff. You’re just, you’re just not gonna get far in this space.

Jay

Baer:

I

love that idea of, of gay quicker. We’ve talked on the show so often Anna, about how much time it really takes social media practitioners and, and it’s time that, that in many cases, their bosses neither recognize nor fully appreciate. And, and so if you can get incrementally quicker at it, just sort of reading the tea leaves, if you will, it will actually make your life better be because you won’t be working 22 hours a day, maybe only 17.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah,

absolutely. Yeah.

Jay

Baer:

Nathan,

last question for you. And I can’t wait to hear what you say. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?

Nathan

Allebach:

I've

been thinking about this. It’s really hard to pin down one. But I landed on Cornell west. The sort of the philosopher activist figure who, to me it’s not so much. I mean, I, I am interested in his politics, but it’s not so much that to me, it’s his ability to communicate complicated and oftentimes radical ideas to moderate and general audiences, which I think is such a rare gift among just communicators in general. And every time I see him in interviews or debates or conversations, I’m always just so impressed at his ability to just like be cheerful and like empathetic and bring in people who are like diametrically opposed to his beliefs and, and view of the world. And he just seems like such a master of communication. And obviously no person, I mean, I shouldn’t say no person, but he likely was not born that way. So I would love to pick his brain and figure out, you know, how did he develop those tools and like become the way he is to be so patient and like have that ability to, to maintain that calm, cheerful, temperament in the face of oftentimes adversarial interactions. I just think it’s, it’s a really unique skill that I would love to, to learn more about.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah.

That’s a really interesting answer. And I, and I feel like at some level, somebody like Cornell west has to always believe the best in humanity. You have to be a glass half full person in general. I think that to kind have that countenance at, at all times, I think you can make it happen. Nathan, I think you can. I think you can set up that video call. I have, I have high hopes for your ability to execute on on that dream.

Nathan

Allebach:

I'll

check back in with you in a few years, please,

Jay

Baer:

Please.

I, I would love it. Please do check back in. We love keeping up with your exploits, Nathan Ali, from Ali communications formerly the man behind Staco in social joins us this week on social pros, really enjoyed having Nathan thanks for the candor and the insights. It was a blast.

Nathan

Allebach:

Yeah.

Thanks so much for having me, Jay Anna. It was a great conversation.

Jay

Baer:

Don't

forget. You can go to social pros.com friends and get trans script of this episode will link to a lot of the resources that we spoke about in this show. And of course, all the episodes going back now more than 10 years@socialpros.com, I’m Jay bear from convince and convert. She’s Anna rock also from convince and convert. We’ll be back next week with another addition of what we hope is your favorite podcast in the whole world. This has been social pros.

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EP 510 – Edited (Completed 02/24/22)

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