Meet ShaKea Alston

Hi, CI

Capacity Interactive AUTHOR: Capacity Interactive
Aug 29, 2018
6 Min Read

Hi, CI! is our monthly series featuring the best team we know – the Capacity Interactive team! You will learn more about the people who help arts organizations market smarter. This month, we’re featuring Shakea Alston, one of our Senior Analysts who’s a passionate and versatile dancer,  discovered digital marketing through a Peace and Conflict Studies major, and helps arts organizations create social content that connects with fans on a personal level.

How long have you been at CI?
Just over a year!

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Boston and lived in the area for a few years, but grew up mostly in the Bronx.

You majored in Peace and Conflict Studies in college. How did you discover the CI internship program?
Since Peace and Conflict Studies was still a burgeoning department when I declared my major, I had a lot of flexibility in choosing my courses. During my freshman year, I took The Arts as Social Change, which was a cross-listed class in the dance department. I interned at Dance/USA in Philadelphia and discovered that I could have a career in the arts without having to be a professional artist. I spent the rest of my time in college working with arts and cultural organizations, including at arts development consultancy. I discovered CI when searching for post-grad opportunities my senior year after searching “arts consulting.” I guess you could say we have some great search engine optimization (SEO)!  

Why did you decide to pursue digital marketing as a full-time career?
CI’s onboarding program, CIU (Capacity Interactive University), was my first introduction to digital marketing beyond the consumer level. I found myself genuinely excited about everything we learned from the fundamentals of permission marketing to conversion tracking. I enjoyed learning how digital tools could be used strategically and creatively to drive results. CIU helped me discover a passion I didn’t know I had.

Let’s talk about Event Response and Lead Generation campaigns on Facebook. When and why should arts organizations be taking advantage of these objectives?
Event Response is a versatile objective. In addition to being an excellent option for free and low-cost events or performances, we’ve seen great success using Facebook event ads as a top-of-funnel acquisition strategy. Events are a low commitment way for someone to indicate interest without having to leave their Newsfeed. Plus, you can retarget event responders for up to a year following this initial interaction. Additionally, events provide a boost in organic reach – Facebook notifications remind users of events they’re interested in and also tells their friends what they’re up to.

Lead generation is a great way to garner early excitement around a larger event, such as a single ticket on-sale, or a season/exhibition announcement. Lead generation objectives can also be useful for campaigns where conversions are more likely to happen over the phone or via personal email, such as group sales.

You love all things dance! What makes excellent dance social content?
As a dancer, I love to see the stunning photography that dance companies have become so well known for, but I get really excited when companies find creative ways to introduce fans to the dancers on a more personal level. A few of my favorite examples of this:

When they’re on tour and visiting a company member’s hometown, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will often give that dancer an Instagram shout-out, welcoming them back home.

BalletX often has their dancers do Instagram Story takeovers, which is a fun way to see each dancer’s personality and gives the fan an insider’s look at their daily lives.

Around last year’s Super Bowl, Pennsylvania Ballet released an amazing video of their dancers decked out in Eagles gear dancing to the fight song, which showcased their Philly pride and support.  

During ABT’s most recent season, I was scrolling through my phone during intermission and saw a heartwarming video of all the female members of the corps holding hands and encouraging each other before getting back on stage.

Who are your top five favorite dancers and/or dance companies to follow on Instagram? Why is their content so compelling?
Just five?! In no particular order, New York City Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, BalletX, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Boston Ballet. I think these companies do a great job of balancing stunning visual assets and a strong voice as a dance company while showcasing all of the personal, all-access moments for their fans.

You’re also a dancer – what styles of dance do you enjoy performing?
Ballet was the first dance style I was introduced to after seeing Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker, and it will always have a special place in my heart. In college, I discovered a style called Umfundalai, a contemporary pan African technique, through a dance group I joined my freshman year. I fell in love the first time I tried it. I’d never experienced movement that felt so native to my body. I really appreciate how it fuses modern dance styles with traditional African dance movements from across the continent. As an African-American woman, I also love feeling a connection to my culture through dance.

What’s something about your job that makes you excited to come to work every day?
At CI, I have the opportunity to work with incredibly intelligent, kind, interesting, and hardworking people, and with amazing arts organizations that I admired growing up. I also laugh every day at work, which is a big bonus as well.

We heard you have a stellar nail polish collection. Tell us about curating it!
Looking down and seeing a fun color on my nails always brightens my day! In my collection, which I started in high school, I have a little bit of everything from the classics: a cherry red, a great a nude, and a metallic navy I consider my signature. I also have bold, trendy colors,  duochromes, neons, and few basic tools if I feel like experimenting with nail art. I also have a ton my glitter and other metallic polishes since I love things that sparkle.

What’s one tip you can give to help arts organizations market smarter?
Get to know your audience. Ask yourself, who I am trying to speak to and what do I want this interaction to result in? Use your answers to guide your content and strategy.