“I do feel like it's a lot of control. Maybe too much. Sometimes when I'm out with friends and need to post something on the weekend, I have this moment where I realize how much control is at my fingertips. I have all these social logins with hundreds of thousands of followers, and I could think I’m posting something self-deprecating on my own page, but nope, it’s a Fortune 500 company.”
Perhaps this sort of inescapable anxiety is to be expected when you hold the social media passwords (read: corporate nuclear codes) for a Fortune 500 company. But Allison has already proven she is more than capable of handling the responsibility—even if it requires her to double- or triple-check her user icon whenever she posts.
Allison joined Paradowski right out of college as a community engagement manager, a role she described as “mostly reading comments and replying if they’re nice.” She now helps lead the Bayer social charge as an account manager. Although, she’s probably a bit more familiar with Bayer than your average 24-year-old—both of her parents worked at Monsanto before it was acquired by Bayer, and her dad still works in the supply chain function at Bayer.
“Of course, I’m working on the Bayer team at my first job. I haven't really strayed far from the nest. I used to have a DEKALB satchel that I would bring to school with all my school books.”
Though Allison has been exposed to Bayer through her parents for a large part of her life, every day still presents new and exciting challenges. Plus, she has a familiar face on the Bayer campus whenever she meets with her clients.
“Whenever I’m there, I'll cut across campus and go visit him in his office.”
On a day-to-day basis, Allison informs both the creative and strategy of the Bayer social platforms—not just what gets posted but why it's posted. She firmly believes that how a company uses social media can completely change their trajectory, for better or worse.
“I think that social media tends to get a bad rap for being shallow, but to me, it’s the bridge between thoughts and realities. You can tweet one thing, and it can make your business or it can break it. There’s just all this power with 140 characters. Some people don’t believe it’s useful, but you can look at a client using social well and see it just made their whole company earn a billion more dollars.”
While Allison sees how valuable social media is for large corporations like Bayer, her interest in social media grew when she started working with small businesses.
“In college, I focused a lot of my efforts on small businesses because social media is one of the easiest things you can do to help get a small business's name out there. Sometimes, it seems like it's underappreciated and people think it’s passé because it’s so common. But I think it has a lot of power.”
We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.
What was I saying? Shoot. I lost it. Well, I’m sure it’ll come back to me.
Allison describes herself as a social introvert, which makes her a good fit for the social realm. She can be surrounded by people on her terms and opt out whenever she’s ready to spend some time alone.
She told me her favorite social platform is TikTok “just because I miss Vine.”
She quickly changed her response to Instagram. (Maybe because she sensed I, a millennial, was going to make fun of her for giving such a Gen Z response.)
“Instagram's my favorite, and I use it the most often. It's where I find cool businesses to follow and cool places to go on trips.”
Speaking of Instagram, Allison’s photography page is worth a follow, despite what she might tell you.
Zach: How long have you been a photographer?
Allison: I am not a photographer. I do photography on the side.
Zach: So is that a hobby for you at this point, or do you do it semi-professionally?
Allison: I'm not a professional, I'm not a photographer, I just do it for fun. I feel they're okay pictures.
Reader, I will let you be the judge.
Now that we’ve established that Allison is a photographer—an artist even—I feel it’s worth noting that she’s militant about PowerPoint design.
“One of the only things I'm controlling about in my life is PowerPoint design, which has been fun for the people I work with. That was always my role in group projects at college. At Paradowski, you don't have to worry about it as much because people do that for a living.”
That said, if you’re working on a Powerpoint but don’t have the chops to properly design it, please send it to Allison. She’s begging you.
Oh, right. Social media. Of her own social media profiles, Vimeo is her favorite because she thinks it does the best job of letting you inside her mind and experiences, including her travels.
Hey, speaking of travel, Allison studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, during college—an experience she described as “quite possibly the most transformative time in my life.”
“I purposely chose a program and city where I knew I wasn’t gonna know anyone. I spent hours and hours just walking around and exploring and sitting watching old Spanish men smoke cigars and laugh. A creepy introvert’s dream if you ask me.”
Before she got into stalking Spanish men, Allison found comfort in Target.
“Like I said, I'm a very social introvert. I definitely had to push myself out of my comfort zone in high school to make friends, but I've always made sure that I have a group of friends around. The main thing we did was go to Target. We were very comfortable in Target. Target was home. We would walk in with no plan to purchase a thing, but would always leave with a roll of cookie dough and a candle.”
Even then, Allison didn’t let her Target fascination separate her from her introvert roots.
“Even though I am an introvert, I don't like identifying as an introvert. I'm very much a listener. I love having people's energy around, but when I'm done with that, I am done with that.”
Allison Schaefer is still figuring out what to do with people.
Throughout our conversation, it’s clear that Allison has a deep-seated fascination with human beings. Hell, she works in social media. But she’s also an avid people-watcher, an unapologetic empath who once drastically overreacted to a Civil War reenactment (it’s a long story), and a true crime fan who’s more interested in the psychology behind each story than the story itself. She’s a people person who knows when and how to keep her distance, a sign of maturity that’s hard to find in a burgeoning social media specialist.
So if you find yourself needing someone to trust with your corporate nuclear codes (read: social media passwords), Allison might be your best bet. She’ll even take care of the PowerPoint.