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How Belfast man’s restaurant reviews ‘just blew up’ into a thriving TikTok agency

‘Big things happening’ as Matthew moves from furlough pastime to creating social media content for local firms


Agency: Matthew McGeady at his offices in Belfast. Credit: Kurtis Reid

Agency: Matthew McGeady at his offices in Belfast. Credit: Kurtis Reid

Agency: Matthew McGeady at his offices in Belfast. Credit: Kurtis Reid

A Northern Ireland man has described how he went from furlough to running a TikTok agency in a year.

When Matthew McGeady was furloughed from his 9-5 IT service job in March 2020, he saw it as a time for him to sit down and focus on a different direction.

But the 23-year-old from Belfast never expected to be running his own social media agency just over a year later.

“It all started with restaurant reviews. I was using my own TikTok account to visit restaurants in Belfast and do video reviews of them,” he said, speaking from his office in Ormeau Baths. “Next thing, one of them got over 300,000 views, and it just blew up.”

Sensing the popularity of TikTok, a video app that became hugely popular during the pandemic due to its short-form content and massive viral trends, Matthew realised there was a gap in the Belfast market for an agency specialising in its content.

After a few months of freelancing and continuing his review videos, Matthew formed ‘Right Now Social’, a bespoke ‘TikTok agency’ based in Belfast where he creates content for companies across Northern Ireland.

He added: “It just naturally happened, the restaurant reviews on my own account picked up, but I saw those videos as opportunities to build clients instead of just doing one-off videos for businesses. I always suggested to the places I was working with that I could help if TikTok marketing was something they’d be interested in.”

They were interested, Matthew added, and ‘Right Now Social’ was born.

The agency, which recently underwent a rebrand, creates creative and specific video and photography content for TikTok and Instagram Reels for businesses across Northern Ireland.

It taps into the trend of companies seeking those ‘viral moments’ which can, in turn, result in millions of users seeing their brand/product.

The concept is gaining momentum in the world of business, and back in June 2020, notable business and economic magazine Forbes even published a guide titled ‘Why Your Business Should Be on TikTok.’

“When I first started TikTok was still in its early stages, many places didn’t know how to use it effectively. I just offered to help small businesses create content for their socials,” Matthew said.

“We’re constantly expanding and have big things happening this year. My agency knows how to tap into niche markets to optimise marketing on these platforms,” added Matthew, who has worked with high-profile retailers like Victoria Square and music events like Belsonic and AVA Festival on TikTok.

Matthew’s agency now has a steady amount of creators and freelancers he works with, but he says he didn’t start this type of work on his personal account with the sole intention of making money.

“It was a lockdown thing, the typical things I would be doing on a weekend were taken away from me and everyone,” he explained. “I needed something to keep me ticking over, but then I started building followers on my own account and pushing out content people liked.”

Though many would be excused for thinking he falls into the typical role of an “influencer” a term used to describe someone who endorses and uses products on their social media pages in exchange for money he rejects the title, saying he considers himself “an entrepreneur and business owner” as he is paid to help other users create content.

However, Matthew is all too aware social media can be a difficult place to manage, with platforms like Instagram and TikTok constantly at the receiving end of criticism for a variety of issues from privacy to responsible content control.

Matthew has also been receiving some online abuse himself, with some comments mocking his plans. “I don’t pay much mind to it, my generation is receptive to this content, and if you’re not ahead you’re behind,” he said.

“People who spread hate online are just people unhappy in their own lives.”

Matthew said one of his many goals this year is to inspire younger people to follow their own dreams like himself.

He added: “This all came to me at once, and I work hard. I don’t have this massive game plan, but I honestly think if you put yourself out there, you will get there.”

“I think sometimes in Northern Ireland we put ourselves in boxes. If you believe in yourself and you know you’re good at what you do, trust your instinct.If it doesn’t work and you fall short, at least you’ve fallen short over something you’re passionate about.”