A masterclass in social media: making digital work for your company

Social media experts Roisin Glynn and Felicity McCarthy took a deep dive into social media for week two of the AIB Start-up Academy

One of the most important things for any business engaging with social media is knowing who their audience are and using the right channels to engage with them. The second week of the AIB Start-up Academy was a masterclass in social media for the 14 start-ups taking part in the eight-week accelerator programme.

Facilitator Felicity McCarthy from Irish Times Training took the finalists through all aspects of social media and how it can help their business. “I am always really keen for start-ups to understand  where their audience is. To really think about that and decide what channels they need to be on based on that audience, that’s the first and most important thing,” said McCarthy.

Also imparting her tips on social media was Roisin Glynn, head of social media at AIB Group.

If you want your business to be successful you need to use digital channels and social media

“For small businesses, social media is a lot of time and investment and a lot of the start-ups don’t have any marketing or social media experience so my focus today was to really drive home to them how important it is. It’s not really an add-on anymore. If you want your business to be successful you need to use digital channels and social media,” said Glynn.

Consistency is also key for start-ups when it comes to social media. “Once you start something, it’s not really something you can check in and out of. It is something you have to take on board and make a commitment to. There are things like Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest but they might not be right for your audience. I said to the finalists that they don’t have to go home tonight and set up seven or eight different channels - set up one or two and do them well,” said Glynn.

Start-ups are time poor but Glynn said there are ways to manage social media effectively.

“Start-ups are probably working 14-hour days as it is already so it is about actually setting aside a reasonable time to do it, putting a block in your diary every week or every two weeks. There are tools out there that will help you schedule content to ensure that you have a consistent number of posts going out and also bringing people on board who will help you. So if you have family members (to help), (or) if you can get an intern to do a couple of hours a week then do so. Reach out to those people and see if you can get somebody to help you for a couple of hours a week,” said Glynn.

Finalist Mary Toner's Bakers & Cakers said that she found today especially helpful.

“I have a post-grad in social media but I find it changes so much that having a day where it’s a refresher course, that’s a huge help. Things that I learned only a year and a half ago are slightly irrelevant now to be honest.

“With social media (most start-ups) run it themselves, nobody really has a budget at the moment so it’s great to have a day with the focus on social media and you can say ‘maybe I was doing that a little wrong’ and you can change it straight away. It’s an instant thing that can help your business so I’ve found today a huge help,” said Toner.

Toner said she is enjoying the day a week on the Academy to reflect.

It gets very busy when you're running your own business so the great thing about the Academy is that you get a day to focus on one thing

“It gets very busy when you’re running your own business so the great thing about the Academy is that you get a day to focus on one thing and give it a real thorough process and by the time you come away at the end of the day you have a plan as to what you are going to do, which is really beneficial,” said Toner.

McCarthy she said she hoped finalists would come away from today’s session with priority in mind.

“I hope the finalists prioritise where they spend their time (on social media) after today, how they spend money and where to spend it on advertising and the paid products and prioritising their channels according to their customers. I want them to think about their customer first, and build their social activity on that basis so they can really make it relevant and engaging for their customer. That will ultimately give them the right success,” said McCarthy.

The 14 finalists are:

Frankman Grooming
Male grooming products producer

Tipperary Boutique Distillery Limited,
Distils Irish whiskey from their own barley on their Tipperary farm

Bakers & Cakers
An online marketplace connecting cake makers to those who want to buy them

Izzy Wheels
Produce a range of customised spoke guards for wheelchairs

Origin Bars
Handmade high fibre protein bars producer

A molecular diagnostic solution to help patients make their decisions

Producers of a product that manages peristomal skin complications for people with ileostomies

The Little Pharma Ltd
Hydroponically grown barley and wheat grasses producer

Kiki Moon
Creaters of high-quality organic cotton blankets

Oathello Network Limited
An online app that allows you to find, book and pay to have legal documents sworn and notarised

Produce a range of healthy meal pots designed for athletes on the go

A Wicklow-based company providing smart-stabling solutions to the equine and agricultural industries

A healthcare application to tackle sleep apnoea by improving the effectiveness of therapies for patients using positive airway pressure devices

Fresh from . . .
Produce a "Rustic Smoked Fish Pâté" called Fresh from the Pier

Next week: Design Thinking with Martin Ryan and Tim Vaugh.

This is the third year of the Start-up Academy which is a joint venture between AIB and The Irish Times to help start-up companies develop as the finalists follow an eight-week programme where they have the unique opportunity to network and learn from entrepreneurs, industry experts and each other in a mentoring and training programme.

To find out more visit www.aibstartupacademy.com