Meet the speakers - Felicity McCarthy from Spark Digital

To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Originally from Mullingar, I was lucky enough to go to University in Galway, where I did a BComm (many moons ago!) and returned to NUIG to complete my Masters only a few years ago in 2014!! I’m Mum of two, wife of one, sister to six, aunty to loads – did I mention I’m a bit of a numbers girl!

I have been in Digital Marketing for over 17 years (which makes me feel quite old!). During those years I spent most of my time working in large multinationals. In 2014 founded Sparkdigital.ie, which is a Digital Marketing & Social Media Consultancy and Training company. I’m delighted to get to work with clients here in Ireland, and internationally, to help them digitally transform their businesses and leverage the power of social media to grow their businesses.

I also design and deliver training programs for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, to help them understand how to use Social Media to promote their businesses, engage & grow communities, and reach their target audiences.

How did you get into your career?

Having been deeply involved in digital marketing since before Search and Social (yep that long!) – I’ve witness an incredible amount of change in that time – it’s an incredibly dynamic area of marketing to be involved in - the tools and techniques evolve at the speed of light! My background as a digital marketer in international roles at Dell & eBay positioned me really well for incredible opportunities at Facebook where I lead the EMEA Marketing team working with Small & Medium businesses.

For me it was a natural step to start out on my own, to bring these marketing skills, and my approach to being very focused on delivering measurable results, to completely different businesses (some Irish but many are not), who were struggling with how to be successful using digital & social tools.

I’ve realised as my own career has progressed that you shouldn’t try to plan too far ahead – we genuinely don’t know right now what the most interesting companies to work at in 5 years time will be – they may not yet exist. The key for me is to always be learning. Make sure that whatever you are doing for now and for the next 6 months you can learn lots from. I think it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone as frequently as possible. That will help build robust transferable skills that can work across industries, and can be applied to solve a range of challenges, in almost any environment. 

What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?

On a personal level, it’s probably fair to say that I am most proud of having set up my own, very successful, business. Leaving the security of corporate life behind is not as easy as it might sound, especially leaving an awesome company like Facebook! That being said, Facebook fosters an entrepreneurial spirit, and has a very positive attitude toward risk-taking. One of my favourite sayings is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. For me, that is starting up Sparkdigital.ie, and three years on, I could not be more excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

How does Social Media support your work?

Where to start!! Obviously I use social media to communicate with, and engage with, Sparkdigital’s community of followers, people I have trained, clients, prospects etc. I’m also very active on Social Media on behalf of my clients, using both organic tools and paid (advertising) tools.

I very proactively use Social Media to keep myself up to date about changes in the industry – this space is changing so quickly, you need to be super dialled-in to keep skills, knowledge & tools all up to date.

What is the one app you can’t live without? Personally and for your business!

Oh wow, that’s kinda tough. I think I’d have to say Facebook, followed closely by Instagram, for both business & personally. I love the mix of updates, from personal, to educational to business related. I feel like the targeting capability mean that I’m much more likely to see updates that are relevant to me, and are a rounded reflection of who I am, and what I care about, i.e. I’m not just interested in fashion , or not just a parent, or not just a business owner, or not just a marketer – I’m all of the above, and Facebook & Instagram treat me as that multi-faceted person, not a simplistic view like other marketing media have traditionally been.

What is the one piece of Social Media advice you would give to businesses?

Create the best quality content you can afford, whether it’s Imagery or video or livestream. Always go for quality over quantity. Think about the content from the perspective of your community/customer – why should they care about your update?

What do you think is the next big thing in Social Media?

Livestream - it’s not exactly new, but it’s the cost effective way to reach more of your existing followers. And don’t forget, if livestreaming - rehearse it properly, carry out a test ahead of time, plan what you’re going to say, try to respond to questions in real time.

What will your brand/ business be focusing on in the Social Media landscape this year?

Continuing to work with some of the most exciting brands in Ireland and Europe on their social & digital strategies!

Growing and scaling Sparkdigital.ie to support my clients’ ever evolving needs. 

What can the attendees of this year’s Social Media Summit look forward to hearing from you?

I will be talking about Measurement in Social Media. You know the old saying “If you cant measure it, you can’t manage it” . Well this is absolutely true of Social Media Marketing.

I hear from businesses all the time where they are not sure if what they are doing is right, and not sure how to measure their success. I work a lot with my clients on putting good measurement structures in place, which can last the test of time (back to being a numbers girl!). Social Media is a real blend of art and science – the quality of the creative is the art, and the measurement is the science. When you bring them together, that is where best results are found.

In my workshop at Social Media Summit, we’ll be diving into what metrics to use for the different types of your campaigns. We’ll show you where to find the metrics, and most importantly, what those metrics mean. There should be something for everyone!

What are you most looking forward to at the Social Media Summit this year?

Oh gosh, well I’m a huge fan of Mari Smith, so I cannot wait to see her in person.

To be honest, I’m so excited about the whole event - there is an incredible line-up. While we all work in this online world, there is no replacement for meeting in person and building lasting personal relationships with people across the industry. :)

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