Andy Issott
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Getting Social with Black Milk Cereal

I had the exciting opportunity to meet Andy Young, Managing Director and Oliver Lloyd Taylor, Founder for Black Milk to Headspace to share their experience with our fellow Headspacers. We found out how they built up their cafe to being one of the quirkiest, most Instagrammable cafes in Manchester and more recently London and Bolton.

“The adventure all began three years ago – we said let’s do this and put everything we had on to the table to open our first cafe. Our dream was simple, to entertain.”


Get Social Talk

In the months that followed Black Milk quickly grew from a proof of concept in Afflecks to operating a kiosk in Selfridges, Trafford Centre. Along the way, they moved to larger premises for their Northern Quarter and have also signed up their first franchise in Bolton.

Black Milk was inspired by founder, Ollie’s (Oliver Lloyd Taylor) travels, over the last 10 years, whilst soul searching he came across plenty of milkshake bars and chocolate bars in America, Italy and Spain. One thing that was always captured on the adventures was the smile on their faces when trying these delicious milkshakes. “The hospitality industry is amazing to work for, seeing the user experience first hand! And who doesn’t was a job researching ice creams?!”

“Social media has been the core of our business from the start, with quite impressive stats, however, it is what you do with those stats!”

45,000 Instagram followers

£15,000 from selling shakes at Topshop after seeing one of our Instagram posts they invited Black Milk to various event to cater for these all from seeing what Black Milk did and bought into it creating a success.

“When creating social media our goal is to create anticipation to bring the crowd into the cafe. People know what they want before they come in most of the time, from our social media channels”. We want them to keep that cycle going, of enjoyment and sharing, creating the halo effect. They see people around them trying these weird and wonderful shakes and ask them where they got them from! Whether it is friends, family or even celebrities they want one too!” Finding out what are the new trends that are out on social media and how to get there first.


Social proof has been around for ages, the assumption of actions of others based on the social and psychological phenomenon in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation. Prime examples being McDonald’s broadcasting how many burgers they have sold, emphasising their popularity. Michael Jordan – creating his own brand name trainers with Nike, a popular brand collaborating with social influencers.

Social media amplifies social proof to users so much more now and is ever so popular as once advertising was mainly on tv, newspapers and radios it is now worldwide with the variety of social platforms. This is highly beneficial for smaller companies, having access to free platforms to get their news out there and get people’s attention. As well as being interactive with users, where it once was only one-sided, there are now review websites such as Tripadvisor, Google and Facebook which are highly influential as it is users reviews for other users.

“Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy!”

Just because you get a bad review, does not mean you just delete it and bury your head in the sand. Address your bad reviews, learn from them and strive to convert them into a positive one, continuing to build that portfolio of amazing service. Above all you should focus on the product, the experience and service that you provide. Make sure your employees know what your company is about and amplify our services and keep that standard and expectation high.

Black Milk Shakes

For us, it is the quality in the taste and creating a magic moment for people that visit the cafe.”

Once you have perfected this, encourage customers to share content on social media of their experience tagging the relevant people and businesses. Amplifying your customer experience is so so important – repost app is probably our go-to for sharing users content. 60%-70% of our Instagram is user-generated, genuine content which is reliable, their first-hand experience and not biased.

Engagement with users is also key, have fun with people – speak to them as they enter, speak to them while serving and make them feel at home and part of a community. This should also be extended on social media, that is what it is about, creating a community around your service or product.

Outreaching to bloggers, such as EatMCRwho have big social media presence for food places around Manchester, with 70,000 followers! We shared our rainbow shake that we launched for Pride on social media and gave them a shout out to try it – they did and they loved it, sharing that appreciation on social media which was amazing publicity for us. It is all about creating relationships with big influencers that can help promote your product.

People buy into popularity so always strive to increase your following, downloads and user numbers. Always brag about your milestones and reward your users for that. Share your stats, no one goes into an empty cafe but if you are busy people become curious.

Social Influencers

People buy into popularity so always strive to increase your following, downloads and user numbers. Always brag about your milestones and reward your users for that. Share your stats, no one goes into an empty cafe but if you are busy people become curious.

Selling out is one of the best things in business, people want what they can’t have – if you sell out they are sure to make sure they don’t miss out the next time around.”

Collaborating with other complementary brands is also great, they share the same lifestyle, values as yourself. We have collaborated with Boohoo, Kellogs, creating a cereal specifically for the Queen! Ultimately increasing your followers and engagement. Finding non-competitive brands that you can have fun with. Contacting people via LinkedIn is such a useful tool, as it is easy to connect and collaborate with them for something they have a general interest in.

Always have a goal in mind for social media, likes is not a goal – for us, our ultimate goal is getting bums on seats, the number of deliveries we do and the revenue we generate. Upselling to people and making them aware of deals, new products and make them desire these before they even come to us! As well as objectives – ours was to move into franchising. Making sure people are aware of this on different platforms Instagram and Facebook for our customers and Twitter and LinkedIn for our business relationships.

“To stay in the loop, one thing I can recommend is listening to the podcast of The Science of Social Media by a company called Buffer which gives you the heads up on all the interesting things that happen on social media and how to keep ahead of everyone else. Which is so important to do something new and quirky and staying fresh so you don’t just become a fad. There is no harm in seeing what your competitor is doing on social media either!”

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