John Sweeney of Suspended Coffee - a social media genius

What I learnt from a social media master

A lot of people talk drivel about social media. But, every now and then, you come across a person who has a pure instinct for it; someone who naturally understands people and naturally understand social media. Yesterday, I talked to a master of social media. This is what I learnt.

First, the numbers

In less than three years, Suspended Coffees has gained more than 288,000 likes on its Facebook page. Its engagement with its followers is both deep and wide. All of this was done organically with no ads or promoted content. Most companies would kill for a committed and rapidly-growing community like that.

Master at work

The master behind its growth is a former plumber, “with no social media training” as he said himself. That man is John Sweeney. A few years ago he had a revelation: that kindness matters. By being kind to each other, we can create a more balanced, a more humane and a more understanding society. So, he started Suspended Coffees and it has become a world-wide movement.

We talked yesterday about his work and our work here at Concern Worldwide. This is what I learnt:


We must follow our instinct. Often that means taking a risk, doing something without all the information we’d like. But, to grow we have to try new things. So, take your idea for a new Facebook post and give it a go. Review the results and then try to improve it.


This may seem obvious, but lots of organisations fail on it: people react to personalities. People do not react as positively to bland, mundane branding and messages. What is the personality of your Facebook page? Find one quickly, if you want to be successful.

Universal cause

Suspended Coffees focuses on kindness. We can all understand that. It is a universal human behaviour. Think about your audience on Facebook. Think about the people you are trying to reach. Then think about your organisation. Think about what you’re trying to do. What common value do you and your audience share? Find that and start to talk about it.


People can sense a fraud. So, be honest. Does the image you are trying to portray, match your behaviour? It should. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to either change branding or behaviour. You decide.

Real social skills

If you understand how to listen and talk with people in real life, you’re at an advantage on social media. Long before John Sweeney heard of Facebook, he was good with people. Facebook has just given him the chance to reach more of them.

Time well spent

I learnt a lot from John in our brief conversation. You’ll see some of these ideas shortly on Concern’s Facebook page. Could John help your organisation? Everyone can learn from a master.

This blog post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.