Planoleaders: Patrick Moynihan of Food52

    November 03 2019

    There's not a single path to cultivating a successful career in social media. With storytelling being at the forefront of compelling content, diversity both in experience and point of view play a more significant role in captivating new audiences online. Patrick Moynihan's nonlinear career path has enabled him to try out many different facets of the digital landscape. After pivoting away from a degree in Plant Science, Patrick found his way into modern marketing. He went on to spearhead initiatives in digital and social-focused roles at companies, including Bose and J.Crew. In his current role as Food52's Senior Social Media Manager, Patrick calls upon his past experiences to create a community-driven strategy for the company's social platforms. Furthermore, Patrick also contends that feedback and conversation have been a key ingredient in building Food52's robust social audience. In this interview, Patrick broke down the most important aspects of creating content for a unique company like Food52 and shared his best practices for fellow social marketers. Read on to meet Patrick and take a tour of Food52's cozy headquarters in Manhattan, New York.

    Please introduce yourself!

    Hello! I'm Patrick, a Massachusetts transplant living in Brooklyn. You can either find me honing my skills in the kitchen of my small studio apartment (it can get pretty warm!) or walking my way through the city one iced coffee at a time. I am the Senior Social Media Manager at Food52.


    Before Food52, what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description, and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?

    My career has been a long and winding road that eventually led to Food52. I have an unconventional degree—Plant Science from the University of Maryland— and took a bit of a roundabout route to get where I am now. I started at Bose with a general digital marketing position. I've held many of the standard entry-level responsibilities. I served as a community manager, data entry builder, wrote creative briefs, but was lucky to later move into a more senior role focused on social, email, and affiliate marketing. The position exposed me to a lot of new opportunities— working with the NFL, for instance—and proved to be a digital training ground for me. At J.Crew, I initially faced a steep learning curve. The fashion world moves at an exponentially faster pace than consumer electronics, and it took time to catch up. I'd also just moved to NYC, so a lot was happening. When I started, many of the (now) former leaders were still in place—it was a highlight to see them in action and get a peek into how the J.Crew magic came together. Digital and social were my main focus, starting with the Factory brand and eventually moving onto the parent brand. Launching the J.Crew Factory Instagram account is still a proud moment. I noticed a gap in how we were reaching our audience and knew being on the platform would be additive for the brand. I had a great boss at the time who taught me how to advocate for something I believed in and to make it happen. I am forever grateful to her for that.

    What were some of the biggest differences in working at a digital media company versus a lifestyle brand?

    What elements have you borrowed from your past experiences that you've translated into your current work? Food52 happens to be both a digital media brand and a lifestyle brand. That is the most significant difference. The role allows me to create a blend of content that speaks to the products we sell and the recipes and articles our editorial team creates. Another key differentiator that comes with working at Food52 is the connection with our community members. That is the most important element of our work and who we are as a company. We lean on our community for recipes, stories, and articles as well as for feedback on our product line, Five Two. There's an open dialogue between our product team and nearly 30,000 community members to help ensure our products match their needs. This connection flows into our social media efforts because, when it's time for launch, we can speak to that. I call on my time at J.Crew frequently, specifically in terms of storytelling. That was the real backbone of the team there. I learned from the best in the business; people who understood how to connect the campaign with their audience.

    Tell us more about the evolution of Food52's content. What opportunities did you see when you first joined the team and is there a particular project that you've worked on that you're proud of the most?

    It's interesting working at Food52 when it comes to content. On top of sharing great food content, we have a wide range of kitchen, home, and pantry products to introduce to our audience. Not many of our competitors can say that. Part of my role is to give feedback based on how our audience received and reacted to the content we share. Because of the fast pace of social, my team can quickly recognize what is (and isn't) working. Taking the time to put that feedback together and having those changes come to light has been a proud moment.

    At PLANOLY, we understand the importance of visually-led content in a saturated online landscape. Food content lends itself well to this idea. How do you hope to push the limits of visual storytelling in this industry at Food52?

    Food content and Instagram do make for a happy couple, that's for sure. I hope to continue highlighting the fun "WOW" moments of food when possible. It's important to me that our content never come across as stale, our fans are too smart for us to get passive in what we share. A newer initiative for us on the social side is to produce more storytelling that highlights our Food52 team —how that all comes to life will be a big moment to set us apart.

    Community is truly at the heart of Food52's ethos. In what ways would you say the company's Instagram presence has contributed to this and is there a particular series or type of content that really resonates with the brand's audience?

    Yes, the idea of community represents who we are, and I'm proud of the way our social media channels reflect that. Nearly half of the content published on @food52 comes from friends of the brand, contributors, or other Instagram accounts we love. When the brand first launched, we held weekly recipe contests centered around one specific theme. Now, on Instagram, we run weekly themed campaigns based on the season or trends we see out in the world of Instagram. This approach has been a great way to keep engagement strong with our followers. You never know if we might feature your ooey-gooey cookies or perfectly crispy chicken skin! These themed posts resonate best with our audience. Mainly, I think, because they recognize our brand identity and enjoy being a part of it. Our Instagram community has grown so close that when we do feature someone, other Instagram accounts will flood the comments section with congratulations and well wishes. It's refreshing to watch.

    What are your top best practices or tips for professionals looking to create exciting and memorable content for their brands in 2019?

    1. Listen to your audience. Social Media can't be a one-way street.
    2. Trust your gut. You are the person working on these projects every day and know what's best for your channel.
    3. Remember what you like to see from your favorite brands on Instagram. Are you creating that kind of content for your brand?
    Learn more about Darren Griffin, on PLANOLY

    Darren Griffin

    Darren Griffin was a contributing Senior Writer at PLANOLY. His expertise includes culture, fashion, and social media marketing.

    More by Darren Griffin

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