AIB Startup Academy


When I started FEED 1.0 back in 2015 social media was something that presented a huge challenge.

Digital Native 

I’m an unashamed millennial so social media was a huge part of my life and I knew that it presented a great opportunity to engage with my audience. What I struggled with was the fact that social media was this huge time warp for me. I was spending hours a day on the various platforms and seeing very little actual return on investment. I find that it’s so easy to play into the glamour and ego of social media but likes and comments do not equal sales and that’s the crux of the issue for me.

I enjoyed it, I liked creating things and I loved the positive feedback but in hindsight there were much more important things that I should have been spending my time on; like, I don’t know, creating a sustainable business model!

Goodbye Facebook 

Since then I’ve scaled back my personal use of social media. It’s happened too many times that I’ve landed on the Facebook homepage to check a message and found myself still there an hour later with what to show for it? Given the scale of work and commitments I have on at the moment, I took the decision to limit my social media use to weekends only. I physically delete the apps from my phone on Sunday night and redownload on Friday night – and I survived!

My personal views on social media are all well and good but the fact remains that it is an incredibly important tool for startups and one which can’t be ignored. The FEED customer is a digital native. Online is where they discover and interact with brands and that’s not going to change any time soon. The whole social media landscape has changed dramatically and simply having a presence is not enough. It’s vitally important to understand the mechanics of the various platforms and how you can reach the highest number of potential customers with content that they value and engage with.

Felicity McCarthy from Irish Times Training and founder of Spark Digital let the session on Social Media and provided insights into the current social media landscape – what’s going on, who’s active where and what the hell we should be doing.

Audience is Key

Interestingly my big take away from the session with Felicity links back to Dermot and Design Thinking from Day 1 – knowing your customer and what they value. How can you create and curate content that they will not only consume, but interact with, share among their own network and most importantly drive them to purchase.

What I learned from Felicity as well as some key learnings of my own:

  • Know your audience: not only what they like and value in terms of content but also where they are active. There’s no point creating a polished Pinterest strategy if your customer isn’t a Pinterest user so before you start anything do some research
  • Time: Use scheduling tools and block time for content creation and posting. Create social media strategies that you can stick to consistently
  • Consistency: Spend some time getting to know your brand and ensure that the tone of voice, messages and themes running through your social media are consistent with your brand and what it’s about
  • Authenticity: People buy from people so be authentic. I love the Simon Sinek TED talk where he outlines that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it so dig a bit deeper and connect with your audience on an authentic level.  In food look at the Happy Pear as the perfect example of this, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but they are real and 100% themselves and are smashing social media at the moment
  • Quality vs Quantity: I was shocked and disgusted to learn from Felicity that the average person has an attention span of 7 seconds; one second LESS than a goldfish. Put some effort in to your content to ensure that it gets noticed by your audience. Use short links like bitly, Quality imagery and please please please fact check and reference your data – don’t be lazy
  • Mobile Consumption: 80% of social media is consumed on a mobile device now so assume for mobile first. If it doesn’t work on mobile, forget about it.
  • Video: Social Networks are optimising for mobile and it’s glaringly obvious as the number of videos across the different platforms has ballooned in recent times. Look at big media brands like Business Insider who are delivering short content in video that would have traditionally been in classic blog format
  • The future is Live: Felicity spoke at length about Facebook, Instagram Live functions and how it’s a very powerful way to reach an organic audience in a time when reaching large numbers organically is proving increasingly difficult. I see that people are still trying to figure this out i.e. what works, what people engage with but it’s worth spending some time on. At FEED we’re looking at this quite seriously; how can we create something in line with the brand values and that people will be interested in in a live format – it’s not as easy as it sounds but I’m looking forward to experimenting!

Day 2 was another great day full of insights and interaction and was one I took a lot of relevant points from. I’ve been spending the last few days re-examining our social strategy based on these points and look forward to sharig with you all soon!

Next week is Design Thinking!