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From style to sustainability, today's PLANOLEADER is helping to make an impact both online and off. Enter Sarah Ruby, who currently serves as the Social Media Manager at S'well, a women-led company known for their innovative (and beautiful!) reusable water bottles. As an innate lover of all things digital, Sarah got her professional start in the fashion industry where she cut her teeth at legendary footwear brand Steve Madden. Fast forward to today, where Sarah has translated her experiences and passion for social media into developing content that champions social good. We recently visited the rising social star at S'well's new office in Manhattan. There, we chatted with Sarah who shared more about how she finds a balance in creating content that is both compelling and conscious.
Please introduce yourself!
Hi! I'm Sarah Ruby, a born and raised New Yorker and digital native with an affinity for alliteration, leather jackets, and breakfast foods. By day I'm the Social Media Manager at S'well, and by night I make hand- painted greeting cards.
Before S'well, what role did digital play in your job description and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
My fascination with digital dates back to 2004, where I spent the bulk of my angsty teen years teaching myself Photoshop and creating custom-coded MySpace layouts. Fast forward nine years and a few gigs in fashion, trend, and e-commerce, I was hired to the Digital Content team at Steve Madden, where we created content for everything from the e-commerce site to social to the blog and quarterly printed magazine, Steve Madden Magazine. I was quickly put in charge of managing their social accounts and worked my way up to Social Media Manager.
What does your day-to-day look like and what are your thoughts on the content landscape?
One of my favorite things about working in the social space is that given the short shelf life of digital content, there is a lot of variety in my day-to-day activity. The bulk of my day is spent curating our social feeds, ideating new content for our blog, monitoring social engagements, researching and recruiting new talent for S'well to work with. Social never sleeps, so it's imperative to be on top of everything, always. News and content crop up at an incredible velocity, so you have no choice but to adopt an 'always on' mentality. Everyone tends to look at the social media team to know the next big thing, since we're always refreshing our feeds, and it's a big responsibility.
We love S'well's values, especially as they relate to ethics. How has this shaped your approach to content and can you share any social media initiatives or campaigns that embody these values and speak to your favorite elements of the job?
Our brand pillars are fashion, function, and philanthropy, and we make sure our content has a balanced representation of all three. We launched a campaign for Earth Day this year with a week-long immersive digital strategy that challenged our followers to #reducetheuse and helps make a positive environmental impact. We simultaneously celebrated the beauty of our planet by highlighting our S'well Adventures community, featuring user-generated content of breathtaking landscapes. We have such an amazing, dedicated online community of S'well fans, so it was a great opportunity to showcase them while maintaining a strong stance on making small, but impactful environmental changes.
"Our brand pillars are fashion, function, & philanthropy,
& we make sure our content has a balanced representation of all three."
Talk to us about the S'well bottle itself. From a content perspective, what is your favorite element in creating content around the product?
We're constantly looking "beyond the bottle," to see what stories we can tell next. It's our task to promote S'well's aesthetics, functionality, charity, and sustainability in one fell swoop. With a vast selection of colors, designs, finishes, and sizes, and there is truly something for everyone, which makes storytelling varied and exciting. I love that we get to create stories that resonate with the trendy yoga girl, the outdoorsy adventure guy, and everyone in-between. Meeting consumers where they require paying close attention to their lifestyles and tailoring the storytelling to fit. We're able to do this by keeping an ear to the ground, listening to our consumers on social, knowing the strengths of our different platforms, and maintaining a keen eye for design and photography.
Regarding S'well's Instagram bio "Be part of a beautiful solution." what role would you say copy plays in amplifying the social good elements of the brand - especially in a visually-led landscape?
For S'well, storytelling is twofold: S'well products not only look great, but they also do good. Visual storytelling is of top importance (it helps that our bottles are highly photogenic), but the copy is equally as essential, especially when you have a lot of factual components to highlight. Copy not only defines our social voice, but communicates all of the benefits of joining the S'well community, whether it's talking about our bottle's technology and functionality, or our charitable or entrepreneurial efforts.
"Copy not only defines our social voice but communicates all of the benefits of joining the S'well community."
We love the conscious movement and initiatives that brands are collectively incorporating into their businesses. What would be your advice for brands looking to stay authentic when creating content around social good messages?
You definitely can't fake it. If there's one thing a social audience is good at, it's sniffing out the inauthentic. It's important for brands to stay true to their identity and their core values, whatever they may be, and to celebrate them. We have such a big platform to make positive changes, and as a brand, we'd be remiss to not take advantage of it.
What are you excited to see more of on Instagram this year and in your opinion who should we be keeping an eye on (and why)?
Social media can sometimes be so divisive, but recently I've been seeing a trend of people using their platforms for social good, promoting community, inclusion and celebrating unique individualities. On a less serious note, I'm always looking forward to seeing more videos of dogs doing cute things, because who doesn't love a video of a cute dog doing a cute thing?