GREENVILLE, SC: As brands continue to scratch their heads over influencers and their value, marketing firm EP+Co has gotten ahead of the game by hiring one as a junior copywriter. Sarah Schauer, who was nominated for the 2017 Viner of the Year Shorty Award, is celebrating her one-year anniversary at EP+Co this month.
The former Vine star, who amassed 850,000 followers on the platform before it went bust in early 2017, has an impressive following with 20,300 followers on Instagram and 137,000 on Twitter. Her social media stardom took off after she posted videos to Vine of places college students fall asleep studying for finals.
The series of Vines, which she posted in fall 2015 when she was a student at Old Dominion University, earned her 100,000 followers on the platform in one month. Then she plugged her Twitter and Instagram channels to her Vine audience.
"When I shared [the sleeping videos] on Twitter, everyone who followed me at my college saw it and said, ‘Oh, I recognize that place. I am going to retweet this because I have been in that nook,’" said Schauer. "[Then other] colleges in Virginia started to share my Vines about studying."
She did more than nap at Old Dominion. Schauer said she understands the importance of building a personal brand because she studied marketing and business analytics with a concentration in social media studies.
EP+Co caught her eye because she was a big fan of associate creative director Lance Ford.
"I obnoxiously direct messaged him on Twitter," said Schauer. "He saw one of my jokes about the solar eclipse that he thought was funny enough that he would humor me. He put me forward for an interview and they liked me enough that they found a spot for me."
EP+Co didn’t hire Schauer for her influencer background, though that was a "massive bonus," said Rebecca Lynch, the firm’s director of communications.
"Her knowledge of presence on social translates into the work she does," said Lynch. "She is incredibly in-tune with what is going on in the social world and what people are saying. She works on a lot of social brands that we have."
Fittingly, Schauer is also EP+Co’s "go-to" for influencer questions. "Without her, it would take us months and months of digging to find suitable [influencers]," said Lynch.
Schauer has not been assigned to any clients full-time, but she has been pulled to work on brands as needed, including Denny’s and the UPS Store. Brand tweets that she has worked on at the agency have garnered thousands of retweets and likes, including one for the UPS Store that got more than 4,600 likes by playing on a timely meme.
Some of EP+Co’s recent client campaigns include Denny’s "accidental" press release stunt and Deadpool 2’s Peter W.-focused social media campaign. LinkedIn also recently hired EP+Co as its B2C social media agency partner.
Although she works on non-controversial brands, Schauer hasn’t toned down posts on her own social media pages.
"My humor is a bit crass, so I would never post on my larger social channels about where I work," she said. "I don’t want anyone contacting any brands or replying to any brands with what I have said on my personal pages. Because I am not designated to any brands, it makes it easier, as well."
In terms of lessons learned from her influencer stardom, Schauer said timeliness, regular audience engagement, relatability, a consistent posting schedule, and tone are key to social media success. "Ask questions and get to know people; when you ignore people, they realize it and fall out of like with you," she said.
Shauer also advised avoiding being cheesy, asking too much from fans, and unoriginality.
"People now recognize if something is original content; that is what draws a genuine large audience," she said.