#SSU2020 Speaker Spotlight: Butter.ATL’s Brandon Butler on the Perfect Content Mix
By: Sophie Maerowitz
March 5, 2020
Brandon Butler isn’t your typical influencer.
On Butler’s Instagram channel, Butter.ATL, you won’t see him soaking up rays in exotic travel settings or modeling a new line of designer t-shirts. Rather, Butler, who has a background in the tech sector and is currently a VP at Atlanta-based marketing agency Dagger, has built a social media presence that grants influencer status to the city he calls home.
Butler’s primary project is a culture channel for the “who, what and where” that represent and build upon Atlanta’s rich cultural history. As part of The Social Shake-Up May 12-14 in Atlanta, Butler will offer an inside look at content creation and audience growth on the channel, which initially grew its Instagram following more than tenfold in two months. We learned more about Butler’s day-to-day as executive director of Butter.ATL below.
Let’s start with the basics. What is Butter.ATL all about?
Butter Atlanta is dedicated to the culture of Atlanta — the people, places and things shaping modern Atlanta. “People like us do things like this,” is the message. We form a common bond among those who “get it,” but also [speak to] people from other places.
How did you grow Butter’s following?
We look at our audience and see what themes and content matter to them. Understanding how Instagram’s algorithm works helps us “feed the beast” and drive engagement while being consistent. When we launched two years ago, we were posting three times a day, twice a week. Last year, we amped things up with multiple posts per day as we found we had more people to reach.
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How does your team ideate content?
Butter wouldn’t be successful without our lead designer and producers. We sit down daily and talk about what’s trending. Are there opportunities to add ourselves to the conversation? For example, it’s raining today; we all got several flash flood notifications. We took those alerts and made a piece of content. We also work with celebrities and influencers to generate new creative.
What are Butter’s recurring themes?
One series we do is Atlannapedia. We’ll have an influencer come in and assign them a letter; when Killer Mike came in, we assigned him the letter “K.” He goes, “K is for Krog Street Market, K is for The King Center…” It shows we understand the culture; it’s relevant and shareable, giving people from Atlanta a chance to tell their own stories.
Speaking of which, how do you think brands can make the most of influencer partnerships in 2020?
Brands should be sure to put together a brief for objectives. Creativity comes from direction: “Here are the guardrails, what’s the best you can do?” What [influencers] come back with may not be what you thought, but if they know it’s a fit for their audience, you have to be flexible. When a brand client says “I do not like it,” I ask, “Does it matter if you don’t like it, or that your audience doesn’t like it?”
How do you determine what content mix to use?
As I see it, there are three kinds of content: candy, vitamins and painkillers.
There’s lots of candy content online, good for a quick chuckle. Candy is good, but if it’s all you consume you’re going to rot your teeth. If you do that to your audience, your overall [results] are going to be skewed. As to vitamins, there’s a lot of feel-good content out there. If you just repost that stuff, but you’re not making that change… Put it this way: If your doctor tells you to use vitamins, it doesn’t mean you’ll see a difference. Painkillers solve a problem. If I hurt my back, I’d be in bed without them.
I don’t care if you’re making any one of these three, but if you make candy, you can’t be confused that it’s a painkiller. We’ll say to clients [that are looking mainly for likes or comments], “We noticed this post got 1,000 saves. This means it’s utilitarian.”
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Where do you see social media going next?
We’re kind of at a crossroads. Are these social platforms going to drive [community], or are they going to be used to divide people? Are we going to move to smaller platforms?
Some folks are thinking about building a voice-only platform on AirPods; if they were their own company, they’d probably be a Fortune 500. This year will push the boundaries of how strong this social media space really is.