2017 Social Media

Takeaways from Social Media Summit Ireland 2017 #SmSummitIRL

Social Media, Ireland


Those of you who read my blog or regularly follow me on Twitter will be aware that I’m a social media fanatic and at any opportunity possible I attend various social media workshops & conferences. My vacations from my full time job are spent at social media conferences and this year will be no different. My vacation this year will bring me to Orlando, Florida, not to see Disneyland and Universal Studios but instead to attend Social Boom.


While I’m very much looking forward to going back to Kim Garst’s social media conference, as it was amazing last time I attnded in Chicago, I was extremely disappointed to have just missed Social Media Summit in Dublin. I would have loved to be there to support this conference in my home country and to meet & catch up with the many friends I’ve made via twitter.


Alas, you can’t be at everything and I wasn’t able to fly home to the Emerald Isle to attend what seemed to be a very impressive two days.


However, one positive aspect of a social media conference is that everyone will be sharing what’s going on via social media platforms. So I stayed tuned to #SmSummitIRL and accounts of people I knew in attendance. From Snapchat videos and Facebook live to pictures of slides & quotes on Twitter, I felt like I could still be part of this experience, even though I was far away in New York.

So, I decided to share what I took from the conference, even though I was 3,200 miles away.


The main subject that kept coming up was VIDEO. The top tips that stood out to me regarding video were:

You need to grab people’s attention within first 3 seconds

Keep videos short and to the point

Add subtitles, as most users don’t use volume for video on social platforms

Think vertical! 94% of people watch their videos vertically on their phones, not horizontally, according to Greg Fry

Don’t be perfect with editing on a desktop in landscape, share real vertical videos for more engagement

People want to see WHO YOU ARE so when you are on video be exactly who you are in the real world

You can’t make your best video until you make your first video!

According to Mari Smith, ‘The Queen of Facebook,’ make sure to use Square Video as it has proven to have up to 28% more views on Facebook than traditional landscape video has. People are also watching square video 5 times longer.


Whether it’s video or blogging CONTENT is key. So make sure to:

Create content that resonates with your audience

Everyone has a story to tell so make sure you start telling it

Know your customer/audience and create content especially for them

Share your knowledge with your audience through the content you provide

Use content smartly to educate people on why they need your product/service

Answer FAQ’s by creating valuable blog posts or videos.


When producing content, one needs to be sure to actively ENGAGE with people after you release it:

Make sure you talk TO people, not AT people

Think like your customer/audience.

Research when your followers are online and be sure to engage with them then.

You don’t have to be everywhere, only where your audience is. So if your audience is not on Snapchat but are on Twitter, use Twitter efficiently.

Don’t assume you know your audience, use social media to learn about them. Listen to them & then refine your strategy for going forward from what you learn.

Have conversations. Community building and trust come from how you make people feel during these conversations.

People don’t trust brands anymore. People Trust People!

Tag pages on social platforms that may be interested in your posts to make them aware of your content and build relationships.


One of my favorite platforms is TWITTER:

Twitter polls are great for getting people to engage with you

According to Samantha Kelly, a.k.a. Tweeting Goddess, 85% of people would buy from a small business they have engaged with on Twitter

Build relationships by engaging and interacting with your followers

Twitter lists, which I’ve mentioned before in my Twitter for Business post, is a simple but effective way to watch competitors while also adding people to a list who regularly support your content for tagging when you need their support.


Also, two interesting take aways I would add into an ADVERTISING category:

Online kills offline! You will get better results from advertising online now than you will in traditional advertising methods.

Daniel Knowlton made an excellent, but simple point, that those who have a location-based business need to make sure to have printed signage with social media platforms on it on display in their shop/office & offer an incentive for people who call into your location to join you on various platforms.

I found it was interesting that CUSTOMER SERVICE came up as this is often forgotten about on social media:

Social Media platforms are a great customer service opportunity but many don’t use it as such.

Be proactive as well as reactive with social platforms for customer service.

Have conversations, embrace complaints, review performance and adapt accordingly.



Some more simple but not to be forgotten TAKEAWAYS from the summit had people talking…

In 2017, Social is NOT to be ignored. If you have a business you need to become a publisher as nowadays every business is in media

Think of social media like a friendship – It’s like sitting down with friends, having a conversation, making connections and getting referrals.

Trial & experiment on social as what works for one person or brand may not work for the other.

As already mentioned, you don’t have to be on every platform. Concentrate on the platforms that your audiences are on. If you don’t like a platform that will come through in your posts so it’s better not to be on it.


So there you have it. From all the content I absorbed over the 48 hours of Social Media Summit, I’ve just shared the key things that stood out for me. It also goes to show that even though I couldn’t be there in person, the impact social media has. I could learn all that from my bedroom in a different country just by closely watching #SmSummitIRL.


If that’s not a reason to take social seriously and put some of these takeaways into action today, then I don’t know what is. I know I’ll be implementing them into my strategy from now on.


I’m sure there was plenty more excellent advice that I missed through various newsfeeds that may have been more specific to my needs. So as much as I got from the summit from watching online, I know I could have gained a little more by being there, which is why I intend to be in attendance next year. But mostly I want to be there to meet the people behind the social media profiles in person, some of which I can now call friends.


If you were at Social Media Summit Ireland and there was something I missed that you think may be of value, please be sure to comment below please or tag me on Twitter.


Until next time, take care! 🙂

Áine (SociaOnya) xoxo

2017 Lifestyle SocialOnya

Top 20 Quotes


One of my favorite things is inspirational, motivational & positive quotes. I’ve decided to share my current Top 20 quotes with you all. Every few months, depending where I’m at in life, these quotes change.

So lately I tend to have most of these quotes in various forms: On my phone; in my room; in my purse; places where I can always see them at random times throughout the day.

When having a bad day and needing that extra lift or when I’m at a crossroads not knowing what to do, these quotes can give me that boost I need at the time to keep me moving forward and I feel like everybody needs that from time to time.

So here we are, in no particular order, my Top 20 favorite quotes:


  1. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over. – Sir Richard Branson


  1. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Unknown


  1. Every day is a gift, that is why it is called the present. – Anonymous


  1. Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein




  1. Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction. – Unknown


  1. The 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, Changes – You must make the CHOICE to take a CHANCE or your life will never CHANGE. – Unknown


  1. Tough times never last, but tough people do. – Robert H. Schuller


  1. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s trouble; it takes away today’s peace.


  1. The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something. – Seth Godin


  1. If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today? – Steve Jobs


  1. Stop Whining. Start Hustling. – Gary Vaynerchuck


  1. If Plan ‘A” didn’t work the alphabet has 25 more letters.


  1. Be like a duck. Above the surface, look calm and unruffled. Below the surface paddle like hell.


  1. Look at your own behaviors and ask yourself, “Would I want to be my friend?” – Ted Rubin





  1. In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.


  1. Our thoughts are seeds and the harvest you reap will depend on the seeds you plant.


  1. It is better to live for one day as a lion than for 1000 years as a sheep. – Tibetan Proverb


  1. Stars can’t shine without darkness.


  1. Maybe it won’t work out. But maybe seeing if it does will be the best adventure ever.


  1. When it rains look for rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars.


As always thanks for reading. I’d love for you to share what your favorite quotes are right now. I’m always looking for new ones to add to my wall.


Aine (Social Onya) xoxoxo


2016 Lifestyle SocialOnya

A Day of Celebration & Remembrance

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 3.29.41 PM

July 4th, otherwise known as Independence Day, a day of celebration & remembrance in the United States. A day that acknowledges the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States as an independent nation. Event though i’m not from here, I can appreciate the value that this date brings to citizens here every year.

This year however I had other personal memories associated with this date. Memories where i’m reminded of the pros & cons of the health system, how things can easily go wrong & how others can do so much good.

You see in 2012, I woke up on July 4th feeling very unwell! I felt weak & had a really high temperature, freezing cold even though it was over 90 degrees here in New York and was dehydrated even though I was using all of my energy to drink bottles & bottles of water.

After a few hours I realized I needed to go to the doctor. The way I was feeling wasn’t normal! So, as I was too weak to walk a few blocks I called a cab and made my way to the doctors surgery. I listened to the doctor tell me I had bronchitis – this was the sixth time in eight months that I had been told I had bronchitis and I was prescribed more antibiotics.

I tried to argue that this was more than bronchitis, that something wasn’t right and I’ll never forget the answer the doctor gave me:

“You are also dehydrated but as you’ve no insurance there is no point going to the ER for IV fluids. You need to drink a lot of water, have some chicken noodle soup & take these antibiotics.”

I was told it may take me a little longer to recover doing it this way but that it was the best way to handle the infection without having medical insurance.

Three hours later, I lay in a hospital bed hooked up to everything & anything, coming in and out of sleep. You see, when I made it home from the doctors, I fainted a few times. Unhappy with the doctors diagnosis & knowing my body, knowing it was something more then bronchitis this time, I went to the hospital. I don’t know what happened after I went in the emergency room door, four years later it’s still a blur as everything happened so fast. But I got an answer! I had severe pneumonia and my vital signs were all over the place. I needed urgent care.

Facebook post

Facebook post from way back when...


I spent four days in hospital and had to attend a number of follow up appointments in the coming weeks as I was still quite weak. I honestly couldn’t have received better care! The staff in the ER, on the wards and at the outpatient centre were excellent, keeping me calm & informed at all times. As miserable as I was, being that sick & weak so far from home, they were so professional and reassuring that it made it a little easier.

It was a massive contradiction to the care I got in the doctors office days previous. Even though I argued, with the little energy I had, she dismissed me like it was nothing. When in fact, I was told in the ER that if I didn’t go to the hospital when I did, things could have been a lot different.

So July 4th this year, my mind couldn’t help drifting back to that summer of 2012, reminding me of both the good and bad sides of the health system and where one person’s mistake can possibly lead. I’ve been reminded to trust my own instinct & body and sometimes not to take no for an answer.

After reminiscing on that, I could also be pleased that I’m healthy & happy today thanks to the excellent care of others. I was lucky to be able to once again celebrate July 4th with friends, the same friends I had around me back then that helped look after me.

July 4th, a day of celebration & remembrance, even from a personal point!


To keep up to date with what I’m doing follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat (SocialOnya).

Thanks as always for reading.



Aine (SocialOnya) xoxo

2016 Social Media SocialOnya

Top 10 Tips for Publishing a Blog

Top 10 Blogging Tips


1. Be Consistent! Decide how many times a week you are going to add a blog post, whether it be once, twice, or every day. Don’t add four posts one week and one the next. If timing is the issue, you can prepare posts & schedule them for a week you may not have time to blog.

2. Add Graphics! All blog posts need graphics, even if it’s only taking a quote from the blog and making it into a graphic. This makes your blog more visually appealing. Canva is an excellent tool for making your own graphics. Do not, at any stage, use copyright images for your blog. Make sure any images you take from online are labelled for reuse.

3. Be Original & Show Your Personality! Do not copy other people’s posts. There is so much information circulating on the internet that you need something new, original & unique to stand out. Add some of your personality to your post and people will get to know you & your business a little better and you’ll be more memorable for when they need a service in future

4. Make titles catchy & compelling! This will catch your audience’s attention and make them want to read on. For example, “5 ways to make Halloween costume for under €10” will make people click through.

5. Search popular keywords to bring you up in search engines! If you take the time to write a compelling blog post you want people to be able to find it. By using popular key words relevant to the topic you are blogging about, you will rank higher in search engines.


6. Spread the word! Once you have published your blog post, use social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter [Read my post on Twitter for business] & Facebook) to share it around & attract an audience for your website.

7. Know who your audience is! There is no point writing a full blog post on Water Charges in Ireland if your target audience is in the U.S… Likewise if you are a cake shop why write about solar panelling unless it’s what your audience want to read. Be inventive! For example, if the pope is coming to Ireland and you own a cup cake store, add pictures of the pope to the cupcakes and write a blog post about it. This makes it suitable to your audience while bringing in relevant, trending topics.

8. Call to Action! Have a Call to Action somewhere in your blog. This is normally at the end but it can be added anywhere. This might be to get people to sign up to your mailing list, to buy a product or to direct them to a different part of your website.

9. Proof read! Do not publish anything without proof reading it first. It is very easy to make small spelling/grammar mistakes that may make you look unprofessional. Sometimes, it’s best to get someone else to proof read it as they may notice mistakes that you have missed and also be able to give valuable feedback before you officially publish the content.

10. Track it with analytics! Add google analytics to your website to track where your visitors are coming from and when they are visiting your site etc. This will help you tailor which blogs are attracting more visitors and turning into sales.


If you have any further questions or comments please contact me and i’ll be happy to talk to you.


Áine (Social Onya) xoxox

2016 Lifestyle SocialOnya

Where Does the Time Go?

She was unstoppable

Where does the time go? I’ve been asking myself that a lot today! Last October I moved back to New York, wanting to give life over here another go. The last time became difficult for me & I had many regrets about things I wish I had done differently. This time was going to be different as I was taking a massive gamble, leaving behind a stable background, a job I adored, friends & family who had become my rocks & many things I was deeply involved in, such as JCI.


But I packed up my things anyway and headed back to the Big Apple to the unknown and the fear that I may end up going backwards again but yet filled with determination to this time have no regrets and face my demons.


Fast forward nearly ten months later & here I am writing this post!


I can’t believe how quick the time had gone since I stepped off the plane last October. I met many challenges along the way, nearly given up numerous times, been beyond frustrated but mostly the determination I carried always remained and beat the rest.


Unfortunately one thing had to suffer over the past ten months and that was my blogging!




The first few months were insane. Looking for suitable work, living off very little money, going to as many network events as I could fit in every week and trying to get into a routine. I found it challenging this time as I was very specific in what kind of job I wanted and wasn’t willing to settle like I had previously done. However my visa became increasingly difficult to find suitable work specific to their rules and after having to turn down a number of amazing opportunities I needed to go back to the drawing board.


Blogging had to take a back seat as did a number of other things I was still actively involved with at home. I had to give my dream 100%. At least this way if I failed I’d no longer have any regrets. So I hesitantly reevaluated everything & changed my short term objectives!


Then Christmas came!


This was the first time I’d ever been truly homesick! Struggling with being out of routine, missing the birth of my first nephew, missing solid guidance, I was beginning to give up & considered moving back home. After much debating what the best thing was for me, I decided to give it until March 1st and if a good offer hadn’t come along by then then it would be time to give up on the American Dream.


I gave it my all for two months, going to as many interviews as I could, remaining aware not to take anything for the sake of it but also under no Illusion that it was not going to be possible to get the job I’d originally hoped for. And then it finally all came together, at the very last hour.


BillI was offered a great position at Irish America Magazine gaining new skills in events and advertising while developing my social media skills. The people I work with are amazing to say the least, very patient and I couldn’t work with a better team. Through this position I’m also getting to meet interesting people including President Bill Clinton.


Next thing on my list was to get off my friends couch who had kindly suffered with me taking up her apartment for six months while I tried to get back on my feet. Not many people would be so generous but I was lucky to come back to some amazing friendships here. So once I got the job sorted, I went and found a new apartment in Manhattan, right beside Central park. Finally things were lining up for me!


SocialMediaMarketing WorldI was lucky enough to be accepted as a volunteer for Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. I’ve always wanted to go to San Diego and over the past few years also wanted to attend Social Media Marketing World so it was like hitting two birds with one stone. Financially it was a struggle but I was determined to do it and ended up having a trip of a lifetime. I met world class speakers, some of whom I had met before and others I’d been following for years and was dying to meet.


I was only back a week from San Diego when I headed home to Ireland for a flying visit. It was my nephews christening and I was determined not to miss it and not feel the pangs of home sickness like I had done at Christmas.


After a hectic but great weekend at home I returned to work, exhausted as the previous eight months had caught up with me & without expecting it also having the feelings of homesickness rush over me once more. Being home for those short few days had reminded me of what I was missing. But still with determination to have no regrets I picked myself up and got on with it. After all, you can’t have it every way!


The last month I’ve taken more time for myself, exploring New York once more. I’ve fallen in love with this city all over again and am so happy between work and my personal life!


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Now I’m determined to get back to my blogging as I’ve been doing so much I want to share it with you all.


I don’t know what lies ahead of me visa wise in October. But I do know one thing. If I’ve to move home again this time I’ll look back on my time here with pride and no regrets. I took the gamble, overcame my challenges, didn’t give up when the going got tough, didn’t take three steps backwards and kept going, giving it my all!


Where does the time go? All I know is it goes way too quick. Even though I feel like I’m just back a week, I look back on the past year and realize how much I’ve achieved. They might be small, simple things for most, but for me after my previous experiences they were giant leaps and I plan to keep taking them for as long as I’m able to.


Let’s see what the next few months bring but I feel able to take on whatever comes!


To keep up to date with what I’m doing follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat (SocialOnya).


I’d love to hear what you’ve been at the past this year, both challenges & highlights.


Thanks as always for reading.



Aine (SocialOnya) xoxo

2016 Social Media SocialOnya

How to Use Twitter for Your Business



It still surprises me today that so many businesses out there do not realize the potential Twitter can have for their business. It’s an excellent tool where you can promote your business, communicate with both B2B and B2C, and also learn from valuable content that is constantly shared on it. This post is going to explain a few key ways in how you can utilize twitter to your advantage if you’re a newbie!




Maximize your profile

First you need to start off with maximizing your profile. This will begin by picking an appropriate user name to match your brand. For example mine is @SocialOnya and I use this on all platforms so my brand is consistent.

Include keywords in your profile for people to find you. As you have limited characters you need to be specific with these keywords. If you’re not sure what the best keywords are for your business, Google alerts are one way to help you find this out.

Make sure to have a cover photo and a profile picture. Do NOT leave your profile picture as an egghead as automatically this looks like a spam account! These pictures could be your business logo, a photo of the shop front or a picture of you, as long as you make sure it’s relevant to your business and brand.

Engagement is vital

Now, I know people say this all the time, but the next step that is vital to having a successful twitter profile is ENGAGEMENT! By engaging with other twitter users you can sell your brand and make them more aware of your business. If I wanted to interact with Applebee’s on Twitter I would use their username @Applebees and write my message.

Choose your words carefully, as at the moment you only have 140 characters. Over the last few months thankfully twitter have adjusted the 140-character rule to make this tool a little more user friendly. When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, etc. they no longer count as characters within your Tweet, leaving more room for words! More changes to come also that I’ll discuss at a later date.

Make sure to add hash tags where possible, two per tweet if possible. A hash tag is a topic or word that people can find you through. So for example say you a restaurant, you might want to use hashtags like #happyhour #appetizers #salad #latenight.

The ‘#’ is also a great way to see what is currently trending. You can get noticed more if you engage in trending topics. Big sporting events, political campaigns and current popular topics are always moments where people voice their opinions. Many great conversations come from engaging with trends.




Attract more followers

Once you have a solid profile and are engaging with other twitter users, the next thing you are going to work on is attracting more followers. Don’t panic if this doesn’t happen over night and remember that sometimes quality is better than quantity.

Once you have checked relevant hash tags suitable to your business, you should follow users with the same interests as you, or people who may want your service/product. If you follow them first, there is a good chance they will follow you back so they can see the content you tweet about.

When you see good, quality, relevant content retweet it! This will attract more users who will be interested in following you while building relationships with other users, as they’ll appreciate you sharing their content.

Favorite material of interest to you as this can aid attracting more quality followers, as the user will see your profile. It’s also a great way of going back to find content easily if you are on the move and don’t have time to read it properly.

Sometimes it’s also a good idea to thank new followers by a direct message (it’s more private this way if you don’t want anyone but the intended user to see the message) or sending them a personal tweet. While you are attracting new followers you are continuing to engage all the time. However, DO NOT send automatic “Thanks for following” messages as these are like spam and people don’t like them.


The last thing I would recommend for using twitter to your advantage is Lists. If there are accounts that you always find excellent content on, you can put these accounts into a list. This way it filters out a lot of the noise on twitter and you can concentrate on the accounts and topics that are more relevant to you (the quality I referred to earlier).

These lists can be public or private. If they are public anyone can see what the list is and who you have in it. The account you add to the list will also get a notification informing them that they have been added to your list.

If you do a private list, only you will be able to see it. You might want to do this if you don’t want competitors to see what, or who, you are watching.

Think of twitter as your shop!

If you have all of this covered on your twitter account you are well on your way to using twitter effectively as a free tool to enhance your business. If a customer walked into your shop you would want it to be kept clean & tidy with everything in the right place. You would also speak to your customer and not ignore them. Think of twitter as your shop! Keep it updated, relevant and whatever you do, do NOT forget to engage.

If you have any further questions please contact me and i’ll be happy to talk to you.


Áine (Social Onya) xoxox

2016 Lifestyle SocialOnya

Top 10 Moments from the Grammy Awards

Grammy Awards

The Grammys – One of music’s biggest nights of the year!

February 15th 2015, I watched in anticipation to see what this 58th Annual Grammy awards ceremony would bring and who would be recognized and honored for their contributions from the past year. I was impressed at the level of the fashion, the performances, the acceptance speeches and the love that appeared to go around the room. I decided to share my Top 10 moments from the event. Many may disagree with them, but these are moments from the night that left a lasting impression on me…

Grammy Awards


  1. Ed Sheeran winning Song of the Year with ‘Thinking Out Loud’ – I felt like Ed 100% deserved this award and was delighted when he received this Grammy. He looked the part going up to accept this award. I felt bad for his fellow co-writer, Amy Wadge, when she got cut off as she was about to speak.


  1. Taylor Swift’s Retaliation – while I am not her biggest fan, and while her reaction when her BFF Ed Sheeran won his award did irritate me, I do admire what a great business woman she is. Why did her reaction annoy me? Well, if the TV was on mute, you may have mistakenly thought she won the award. I know she was excited for Ed but I felt her reaction nearly took away from his moment in the spotlight for a second, with the camera’s constantly going back to her. However, credit where credit is due for this sassy lady, if her opening number wasn’t enough to silence her critics, her acceptance speech was the perfect response to Kayne West’s “Famous”.


  1. The Lionel Richie Tribute – This tribute overall was mixed, each artist that contributed to it did their bit but some soared way above the rest, for the most part doing an amazing job. Demi Lovato stood out for me! Even when the camera zoomed in on Lionel Richie during the performance, he appeared to also be very impressed by Demi’s version.


  1. Demi Lovato’s style – Once again, I have to give her praise here. She looked stunning, both on the red carpet and on stage. Simple outfits, yet she shone like a diamond, and no wonder when she was wearing an estimated $2.4 million in bling for her first Grammys appearance.


  1. The Weekend, Grammy AwardsThe Weekend’s performance – I loved loved loved this performance. He sounded amazing, dressed the part and just overall I enjoyed every second of it and didn’t want it to end.



  1. Lady GaGa, Grammy AwardsLady GaGa’s tribute to David Bowie – When I heard Lady GaGa was doing a tribute to David Bowie, I was intrigued. After I thought about it, I realized who else would be better to cover this iconic legend. She put 100% into the performance and her attention to detail was noticeable throughout, from the singing to the style to the very last detail. She delivered an unforgettable performance and proved that there was no one better to cover this tribute.


  1. Pitbull’s finale performance – Sofia Vergara, enough said!


  1. Adele – While this was by far not her best performance due to poor sound quality and apparently the piano mic falling onto the piano, I still enjoyed it. She always gives it her all. The way she gets into her lyrics, her voice, standing still on stage with no props or distractions, her facial expressions…and let’s not forget how beautiful she looked! It’s unfortunate that it wasn’t the performance we were all eagerly anticipating but I still enjoyed it anyway. Great to see her back!


  1. meganMegan Trainor’s Acceptance speech – To see Megan and her dad so emotional just showed how important it is to win a Grammy. Best newcomer is no joke so I’m glad she was so thrilled to win this award. She didn’t appear to have expected it at all. While she didn’t hold herself together like others do, I thought it was still nice to see this. It goes to show that all these artists are human, just like the rest of us.


  1. Little Big Towns Performance – I’m a big country fan so country music is always going to be a favorite of mine. I love the way their performance was so simple, yet elegant and they didn’t change their act around to become the most talked about performance. They just did their own thing, kept it simple and gave their fans exactly what they like – sheer class!


So there you have it, my Grammys Top 10. As I mentioned I’m sure many will disagree with them but each of us is different in our own views…the world would be boring if we all thought the same wouldn’t it!


I’d love to hear your views on the Grammys.


Thanks as always for reading.


Until next time,


Áine (Social Onya) 🙂

2016 Lifestyle Mental Health Awareness SocialOnya

Depression – The Secret I’ve Been Hiding



John:                     “Hi. I’m John and I’m an alcoholic.”

People in room: “Welcome John.”

Mary:                    “Hi. I’m Mary and I’m a drug addict.”

People in room: “Welcome Mary.”

Paddy:                  “Hi. I’m Paddy and I’ve a gambling addiction.”

People in room: “Welcome Paddy.”

Áine:                     “Hi. I’m Áine and I have depression.”


There is panic in their eyes, trying to look anywhere but at you, without trying to make it obvious. They don’t know what to say. They need to get out of this room now, get away from this person…

Now, all of that is a little bit exaggerated. Not everybody acts this way when a person confides in them that they have a mental illness. In fact, the few people I have told have been very supportive and always knew how to act around me – normal! But for a long time I was too afraid to tell anyone how I was feeling, I suffered in silence, because society as a whole made me feel like this wasn’t something to talk about.

Thankfully things have changed. More and more people are succeeding in “breaking the stigma” and they are speaking out about depression and other mental illnesses. If you break your leg you go to the doctor right? And everyone will see you on crutches for weeks after, you can openly moan about the pain and the inconvenience it’s causing. If you have depression, it is also something that needs to be looked after, something people need to be able to talk about. Just because you can’t see the physical effects doesn’t mean it’s not an illness like any other.

ImNotOk-300x194I could use this blog to tell you a number of facts and statistics about depression, facts that anyone can look up if they want to know more about it. Or I could follow in others footsteps. A number of famous people have spoken out about their mental illnesses. I’ve heard people who have read Marian Keyes’ books comment that she couldn’t be depressed because of the fun and humour in her storytelling. Niall Breslin has spoken out about his battles and started a blog titled “My 1000 hours”, now rebranded “A Lust For Life“, a method to help people find ways of dealing and managing their mental illness.  I believe a key direction to help people understand and accept mental illness, is not just to continuously repeat the facts and figures, but to tell the story of what it’s actually like to live with it. So, I’m going to explain depression through my eyes, by telling you my story.

So here it is.

It’s hard to pin point when exactly it all began. I remember back ten years or so when I first went to college. A new, exciting life, meeting new people, trying new things – a world of new possibilities, or so they say…it wasn’t exactly like that for me!

I remember socialising at night. The first few months were fun, lots of fun. But gradually I noticed instead of throwing shapes on the dance floor, I’d gone to spending half the night locked inside a toilet cubicle. First, I’d be fighting back tears. I’d no idea why! I was having a good night when I’d suddenly feel the need to cry, feel the need to be alone. Then I started finding it hard to breathe, and the panic attacks began. When I managed to overcome this, I’d wipe away my tears, re-do my make-up, put the smile on my face, walk out and pretend all was okay, that I was having the time of my life. Really, I was counting down the minutes until it was acceptable to go home, and I nearly always found an excuse not to go to the house party that followed the nightclub.

Slowly, I began to exclude myself more and more without realising it at the time. I’d rather stay in bed for the day, lock myself away, rather than go shopping with the girls. I would get irritable if someone came home when I had the apartment to myself, as it was effort to have to speak to anyone. It’s not that I had a problem with them, I just didn’t want to talk to people. I wanted to be alone with all the thoughts that swirled around in my head. So I’d go back to my room. After weeks of doing this I began feeling like I didn’t belong. I hated the thoughts in my head. For example a common one was “Why didn’t they like me”.

Negativity consumed me!

It then began to impact my studies. I found myself having to sit at the back edge seat of a lecture hall, a quick exit… If I sat anywhere else I felt uneasy, panicked and I couldn’t breathe or concentrate. At this stage, not only was I not going out as much at socialising, always having an excuse why I couldn’t go shopping etc., but now in lectures I managed to exclude myself even more from friends, as I wasn’t able to sit near them. If all the seats at the back were gone I skipped the lecture. Over time, I found it too hard to get out of bed at all to attend lectures. It was easier to stay in bed all day in my pyjamas, not to see or talk to anyone. But yet, when I did meet people, I’d keep the smile on my face, pretend all was great and keep lying that my world was good. That was college life for me!

Then came America…it started off great! It was new, exciting, fun, and busy. All was good again.

But over time that changed too. I found myself staying in bed again, making excuses why I wouldn’t go here or there with friends. Work was my only stability, as no matter how bad things were I always went to work and did my job. It was my one & only normality. Apart from that, my bed turned into my best friend. So one day I decided to do something about it, determined to change myself. If I’m to be honest, my next comfort became a bar stool. Any excuse day or night, when I wasn’t working, I was always meeting someone in the bar, having a laugh, a great old time. I’d show myself that there was nothing wrong with me. I could sit in the bar and have a laugh with anyone sitting next to me. Really, I just found myself plummeting into a much darker place then I previously had been in, unable to control the spiral and no idea how to stop it. I was still putting that smile on my face. Nobody knew, but deep down behind the smiling eyes I couldn’t wait to get home, cry myself to sleep, eat away my upset and hope that tomorrow would be better.

Eventually enough was enough! I couldn’t carry on the way I was. I was 25, yet feeling like I didn’t want to go on, hoping and praying that when I closed my eyes each night, it would be the last time I‘d do so. Something really did need to change!

RoadtorecoveyI decided to move home, maybe then I would be normal again… Nope, that didn’t work either! Looking back, it was very naive of me to think moving home would suddenly make me okay. I still couldn’t admit to myself what was going on, even though deep down I knew depression had taken over my life.

When I moved home I remained to stay in bed, locked myself away, barely spoke to my family, as I still didn’t want to speak to anyone. I was more alone and deserted than ever. At least in America I was putting that fake smile on my face and pretending, living a lie! At home I didn’t need to do that. I could be cranky, irritable, moody, crying 30 times a day…after all it was my family, and they’d love me either way. Except did they? I started having those doubts again “Did they like me?”…my own family!

That was my breaking point I guess. I knew I had to tell somebody but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to upset my parents, them knowing I was feeling this way. I didn’t want people looking at me differently. I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t want to hear someone tell me to cop on, pull myself together, that there are a lot more people worse off than me, to snap out of it. But finally, I stopped thinking and just let it all out. Once again, barely able to breathe through the tears, I told my family how I was feeling, the low place I was in, and how I felt I’d lost control of everything. And after that, it all slowly began to turn around. The weight was lifted off my shoulders. I’d finally talked to someone.

Stepinto myshoesIt’s been a long road since then. I still have my bad days where I want to lock myself away but my family and friends know those signs now. They know the fake smile to the real smile, the teary eyes to the smiley eyes, the times I need a push to the times I need some space. I went to the doctor with the support of my parents. I began counselling and have become aware of my triggers. I stopped comfort eating and started exercising and socialising again. I got involved in a new course, determined not to let the same thing happen as last time I was in college and attended all lectures, not sitting by the door. I’m working in a job I love to go to every day. I cut negative things out of my life. I started getting an interest in things again and have continued to pursue them.

I still have a long way to go.  My depression is something I need to be aware of, know the signs of and I have to try and make better decisions to help manage it. But one thing is for sure, the best thing I ever did was talk. Telling someone, anyone, can help if you ever feel in a similar situation. It took me far too long to learn that the first step to tackle it was to talk to somebody about it. I am lucky my family and friends are so supportive. However, a few years ago, I wish I was aware of the numerous options available where I could have talked to someone when I wasn’t fully ready to tell my loved ones.

Here in the office Olive has told me how she helped start up a private Facebook page called EasySpeak. She set this up so people would have somewhere to turn to when they are feeling low, when they need help. The organisers of this listen to people confidentiality and give advice on who they can speak to in their area to get the needed help and support. If only I knew about EasySpeak or the likes back then.

I think it’s great that high profile people are speaking out about their demons and how they overcame them. People like best-selling author Marian Keyes, senior hurler Conor Cusack, rugby analyst Brent Pope, DJ Nikki Hayes and The Voice coach Bressie. They have opened up and gone public with their battles. However, I do feel like the normal, everyday, mother, businessman, student, and teacher, whoever it might be, need to share their stories too. It’s not an easy move to make but we need come together to break the stigma that some people in our society still have. Everyone needs to realise that it’s okay to feel this way, help is out there and the first step is to speak to somebody about it. We all need to help each other and be there for each other when needed.

My counsellor asked me an interesting question one day – Was I afraid of my depression coming back again? It made me think and the answer was no! I have learnt how to identify my triggers and how to cope with them if they raise their ugly head. I know going through life my depression MIGHT reoccur time & time again, but it may not, so what’s the point in worrying about it and letting negativity consume me once more. I reached an unimaginable low point in my life and with hard work, determination & support from the people around me, I have got myself back on track, something that didn’t seem possible three years ago. If I managed to do that once, I can do it again. Also, this time around people are now aware of my mental illness, so it will be much easier to reach out if I need help.

I might be battling my demons for the rest of my life, who knows. But I’ve decided to wake up every morning and say today is going to be a good day. I’m now in a job I love, one that I look forward to getting up out of bed each day to go to. I keep myself busy. I have hobbies in the evening. I’m part of two great voluntary organisations. I’ve found a new network of positive people through blogging. I have close family and friends that I can turn to on the days I need a boost. I will be okay! No more hiding or pretending anymore. My secret is out. Now everybody knows.


Note: This post was originally written by me for the MediStori website in support of Mental Health Week 2015 which takes place from the 5th – 11th of October, including World Mental Health Day on the 10th October. 

Ireland has begun to challenge the stigma of Mental Health. For example, last January, people were nominated to share their first Facebook profile picture and nominate more people to do so. This was to help raise funds for Mental Health Ireland by donate €4 to Mental Health Ireland through texting MHI to 50300 as you shared your picture. Darkness into Light attracted thousands to raise awareness of suicide in our country. Colour Runs appeared in numerous venues over the country to raise money for Aware. Ireland is starting to reach out and listen.

If you need someone to talk to you can call these helplines:

Samaritans  1850 60 90 90

Aware          1890 303 302

Console       1800 247 247

1Life            1800 247 100

Other websites which may help

Pieta House

Reach Out (Youth)

Mental Health Ireland




And many more…

Also check out all of the above on social media platforms.

#MentalHealthWeek #Dignity #BreakTheStigma #SafeTalk #WorldMentalHealthDay #Awareness

2015 Lifestyle SocialOnya

Memorable moments from the past year

As the New Year is now upon us, I’ve been reflecting on the last 12 months. To say that the past year has been crazy busy is an understatement! Looking back, I can’t get over all I’ve managed to fit into one year. There have been ups & downs, some highly frustrating times where I struggled and wanted to give up..but also many successful moments which made the struggle seem all the worthwhile.

I’ve decided to put some of my most memorable experiences together to share with my readers. Some of you will already be familiar with my experiences if you have read some of my previous posts.

So let me begin…

Entering in the Mayo Rose competition

Me with my boss, friend & sponsor, Olive, after I got off stage

My friend/boss sponsored me to represent MediStori in this heat to help me overcome my fear of public speaking, one of my aims at the beginning of 2015. While this was one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done it’s definitely helped me with public speaking since. All the girls entering were very encouraging, as were the judges and Maria Walsh, the Rose of Tralee at the time. I couldn’t have received better support than what my family/friends/work colleagues offered me.


Passing my driving test

NplatesAnother resolution for 2015 was to overcome my fear of driving so the day I passed the test and became a fully qualified driver was a massive achievement for me. I had been petrified of driving for so long that getting behind the wheel was very challenging for me but I refused to let it get the better of me.


Joining JCI Mayo

JCI Mayo, Darkness Into Light, Pieta House, Westport House, Suicide Awareness

Becoming part of this voluntary organisation was one of the most worthwhile and rewarding things I could have done. I developed new skills, many friendships, got to travel and did things I never thought I would have the confidence to do. I now look forward to the year ahead in JCI to see what other connections I create.



Setting up SocialOnya

socialonyaI had played with the idea of setting up a blog for a long time and decided to finally take the plunge at the beginning of the year. I’ve met some amazing people over the past year from going to various blogging networks and am delighted to be able to call some of them friends.


Reaching the Final List in Blog Awards Ireland for Best Blog Post

cropped-twittercover.pngI was thrilled when I made the long list for these awards, but gobsmacked when I went on to reach the shortlist and lastly become a finalist for my post “Fear Holding You Back in Life?”. There were so many excellent bloggers on these lists and each deserved recognition for their hard work. Unfortunately, as I had just returned to New York I was unable to make the awards night but I followed closely on social media.

Attending Social Boom

socialboomSocial Boom is a social media conference held in Chicago. I was thrilled when I won a ticket to attend this conference as I wasn’t able to afford it at the time. I met some inspirational people, some of the leaders in social media who I greatly admire, got to go to Chicago for the first time and left having met new friends. It was a weekend that I will never forget.

Returning to the US

New York City, SocialOnya, Halloween Decorations, 69th Regiment, Empire State Building, Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral

For a long time I was in between minds whether to return to New York for a year or not. Eventually, I decided to leave the job I loved, follow my dreams and give it a go. Since returning, it has been great meeting up with old friends, trying new experiences and just being back to a city that is like my second home.


Becoming a DMiMayo Co-Founder

Untitled designI was talking to people in Mayo for a while about setting up a network for businesses in Digital Marketing. After travelling the country for similar events I saw not only the need in Mayo, but also the expertise available to us. Fortunately I heard that other people were thinking similar to me and were in the process of setting up DMiMayo and we joined forces. So far, the events we have held have been successful and proved that there is, without doubt, a need for a free business network like this in our county.

Raising awareness about Depression by sharing my own personal experience

Darkness Into Light, Pieta House, Electric Ireland, Westport House, Suicide Awareness, Prevention, Hope

For a long time I played with the idea of using my blogging resources to raise awareness about depression. It was an easy piece to write but hard to publish. The response I received after publishing it was amazing and from feedback I got it helped others in a similar position that I was in. It was published on the MediStori website here. I also published a piece about the The Symbolic Darkness Into Light Walkthat I took part in, to raise awareness before I was ready to share my own story.


Graduating a part time course

Ben FrankilnAlong with working at MediStori, blogging, going to JCI events, helping set up DMiMayo, travelling the country for networking events etc., I still managed to find the time to attend a part time Digital Media course and was delighted after nine months to graduate from it.

Becoming a member of the MediStori team

bestiesThis was my biggest moment as I don’t think any of the previous experiences would have happened had I not started working here. When I was offered this internship I jumped at the chance to take it. I was, and still am, 100% in support of this project and I knew that I would learn so much during my time there from Olive. I made great connections and was also lucky enough that my boss (team leader as she prefers to be called) has become one of my closest friends


So there they are, my top moments from the past 12 months. Can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for me!

Thanks as always for reading.

Would love for you to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on my journey.

If you missed it, see what I’ve been doing since I returned to New York in my previous post

Áine (Social Onya) 🙂

2015 Lifestyle New York SocialOnya

Ways To Get Into The Holiday Spirit In New York

For a long time now, I’ve debated whether to return to the U.S. for a year to chase new experiences or to stay in Mayo working in a job I loved. It was a decision I wavered on for months. But eventually the U.S. became a scratch I just had to itch so I decided to take the gamble, get a year Graduate Visa and jet off.

Since returning to New York, my blogging has taken a back seat, as I’ve been frantically searching for a suitable job position. Even though I am still looking, I decided to take a day off from the doom and gloom of job hunting and get back to doing something I love – writing!

New York City, SocialOnya, Halloween Decorations, 69th Regiment Armory, Empire State Building, Imagine Memorial Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral
(from left to right, top to bottom) Halloween Decorations, 69th Regiment Armory, Empire State Building, Imagine Memorial in Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Apart from job hunting, I’ve been revisiting some of my favourite NYC destinations – Central Park, Rockefeller Centre, 5th Avenue, Grand Central, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.; watching the Halloween parade; getting a selfie and saying “Hello” to Adele; shopping; attending numerous networking events, and most importantly, meeting up with my friends over here. It has definitely been a busy few weeks!

Adele, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Centre, Manhattan, New York
Meeting Adele outside Radio City Music Hall


Thanksgiving was last week here in the U.S. so I sat back and watched everyone get into the holiday spirit. Today, I decided to share with you 5 more things I’m looking forward to doing before Christmas arrives, to ensure I also get into the holiday spirit while I’m here in New York:




Ice Rink, Rockefeller Centre, Manhattan, SocialOnya, New York
Ice Rink Rockefeller Centre
Ice Rink, Rockefeller Centre, Manhattan, SocialOnya, New York
Ice Rink, Rockefeller Centre,

There are three amazing venues in Manhattan for ice-skating and I have to go to at least one of them. To be honest, I can’t believe that I’ve never been ice-skating before. I’ve always just stood at the side of the rink and watched, but I’m determined that this will soon change. There is a beautiful rink at the Rockefeller Centre and it will become even more spectacular in the coming days when the Christmas lights are shining brightly on the tree. Central Park is also home to another skating rink along with Bryant Park, off 5th Avenue. All three venues look magical at this time of year, so no matter which one I make it to, I’m sure it’ll be a worthwhile experience.


Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Music Hall, Rockettes, Rockefeller Centre, New York, Manhattan, SocialOnya
Scene from the Rockettes 2012
Radio City Music Hall, Rockettes, Rockefeller Centre, New York, Manhattan, SocialOnya
Scene from the Rockettes 2012

Even though I saw this three years ago, I would only love to go again. It was an unforgettable experience and it got me in the Christmas spirit, even though I knew I wasn’t going to be at home that year. It’s such a feel good show! Every year the Rockettes strive to put on a show even bigger and better than the year before so I’m excited to see the show again this year. It will add a little “Ho Ho Ho” to my job hunting I’m sure.


Build a Bear

My favourite Teddy
This picture does not belong to me

As I’m a child at heart, I still love teddies. And I also love souvenirs or something that reminds me of various times in my life…so, I’ve decided to combine the two of these! Some people think I’m crazy but I’d love to go to Build a Bear for the first time ever. I want a bear that not only captures the moment but also reminds me of memories from the past year. As I won’t be home this year to unwrap any gifts, this can be my Christmas present to myself.



Winter Village at Bryant Park

bryant park, New york, Manhattan, 5th Avenue, SocialOnya
Bryant Park boutique type stall
Bryant Park, Manhattan, New York, 5th Avenue, ice-skating
Bryant Park Ice-Rink

This is also something I have done before, on more than one occasion, but every time I do it I leave in the holiday spirit. The winter village at Bryant Park is a European inspired open-air market, much like the Christmas markets in Galway. It includes over 125 stalls with anything from jewellery to local food products. There is something here for everyone, of all age groups and cultures. Some of the stalls overlook the ice-rink so maybe I can get the two Christmas experiences in at once at this venue.

Broadway Show

Lion King, Broadway, show, Manhattan, New York, SocialOnya
Outside the Lion King
Mary Poppins, Broadway, Manhattan, New York, SocialOnya
Mary Poppins Theatre

I’ve already seen numerous Broadway shows – Mama Mia, The Lion King, Wicked, Mary Poppins, just to name a few. But it’s been over two years since I’ve last seen a show, so I think it’s time for a new one. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking through various Broadway shows. As I’m clearly a Disney Fan I’ve narrowed it down to Aladdin! Most Broadway shows have left me feeling energetic and ready to take on the world after them, so maybe a Broadway show might give me the boost I need as I continue looking for work.

So there you have it, five things on my To Do list right now, to get me into the Christmas spirit between the job hunting and networking events. For those of you who have been to New York this time of year, I’d love to hear about your favourite activities. Or what gets you into the holiday spirit?

To keep track of what I’m up to in New York, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for regular updates.

Hoping everyone has fun over the coming weeks in the lead up to Christmas.

Thanks so much as always for reading.

Áine (Social Onya) 🙂