Interviews

When social media becomes a microphone

Timothy Armoo, Co-Founder and CEO of Fanbytes on the importance of playing as a team, finding time for yourself and the restorative power of a long walk.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE

Share


Brands are obsessed with connecting with ‘the next generation’. These are their future leaders and thus, consumers. What do they want, where do they play and, fundamentally, who are they and what do they aspire towards? Answering these questions is key to reaching this generation where they already are, and to ensure that that interaction feels both genuine and authentic. 

This is the generation that has grown up online and is often claimed one which  cares more about brand purpose than profit. A generation which is more digitally socially savvy than any generation that came before them. 

It is this generation that Timothy Armoo wanted to help brands speak to, a desire that sits at the heart of his business Fanbytes. Twenty-four-year-old Armoo, who is CEO of the company, launched Fanbytes in 2017 with Co-Founder and COO Ambrose Cooke, as an advertising platform that helps brands such as Deliveroo, Apple Music and even the UK Government reach Gen Z through TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram influencers. 

At its heart is a proposition which couldn’t be more directly relevant to the world Gen Z find themselves in at the turn of a new year. That of ‘advertainment’, fusing the worlds of advertising and entertainment to create a more compelling brand offering. Fanbytes, and its team, acts as a conduit between brands and the youthful audience they’re so desperate to connect with.

“I had seen the way social media was really impacting different audiences,” Armoo explains, adding that, “at the beginning, it was really about understanding the different ideas and the different ways in which we can actually serve our brands.”

Whether some people are voiceless, whether some people have too much of a voice, social media does have a role because it’s the main method of communication now.

Timothy Armoo

Social media as a microphone

Perhaps one of the more difficult shifts to navigate during the last year is our ever-increasingly reliance on and use of social media platforms. “Whether some people are voiceless, whether some people have too much of a voice, social media does have a role because it’s the main method of communication now.” Armoo explains. “It’s almost a microphone that can be used to share your thoughts and opinions,” he adds.

He says this ease of social media however is critical when it comes to connecting with people around the world: “We can share the same interests and goals and we are a group independent of our location.” All that matters is this shared approach, and social media provides the means by which to do it, something that Armoo believes is particularly important as the world continues to work predominantly from home. While we remain disparate in location, social media allows us to share ideas and perspectives with one another, whenever and wherever the urge may take us.

Play as a team

Armoo is revealingly honest as he admits that for a long time he couldn’t remove himself from the image of the hero founder, of the singular individual building a business by himself. There is no shortage of narratives that espouse this route, from Nike’s Founder Phil Knight’s autobiography Shoe Dog to Mark Zukerberg, allegedly, building Facebook in his dorm room.

But, as the best business leaders soon realise, playing as a team takes you so much further than holding onto that individualistic dream. And this is something that Armoo admits he realised a little later than he would’ve liked. As he adds, “even when I knew the value of a team, I think I still was very much in this hero complex.”

Armoo believes however that this is one of the failures that he has learnt the most from, that of “thinking that the success of the business comes from one individual.” he says, adding that this extended to “undervaluing the value of a really good team of people who are significantly better than you.” Because it is through a team that a business grows and that you realise that much of what you are experiencing, others have done before you or are doing alongside you. This creates a space in which you can learn from the stories of those around you.

“A lot of things you’re going through have already been done by someone else. If you can read how they do it, then you win,” Armoo says. Once you have that realisation, it becomes not so much about how you figure out your problem but rather, how can you learn from the way someone else figured it out? “By and large, most things have already been done before,” he says, adding, “your job is to learn how it’s done.” As Armoo smiles, “the world is basically this massive playground.”

Often we think success comes from the amount of stuff we do but actually, it comes from the quality of decisions you make.

Timothy Armoo

Finding time for yourself

Fanbytes is actually Armoo’s third company, having started his first at 14 and selling his second, a media company EntrepreneurXpress at the age of 17. It was this second business endeavour that introduced him to the world of social communities, and the importance they can hold for brands.
But as the business has grown steadily to almost 50 people, Armoo reveals his biggest challenge as a business leader has been about “finding time for myself and being able to almost be away from the world, to be able to think,” he says. 

With more than three quarters, or 78% of bosses reporting they had experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, according to Bupa Global’s Executive Wellbeing Index, the need to cut yourself a break is a vital one. Pressures on the business, worries about the economy and reduced personal freedom all exacerbated the mental health of UK execs over the last year, and these are concerns that look set to only continue.

Quality over quantity

Armoo is an advocate for not working on Fridays. Instead, he takes himself off for long walks around London, headphones in and his eyes up, walking through problems or simply calling Cooke to brain dump, something Armoo admits Cooke “actually hates” him for. It’s a vital way Armoo has found to stay creative, particularly during multiple lockdowns. In fact, he’s turned his love for headphones into a business opportunity by becoming an ambassador for Huawei FreeBuds Pro.

If “you walk around with the intent of opening up your mind to different things”, he says, you can work through problems or ideas without even realising you are doing so. At the risk of sounding a bit ‘woo’, he says, it’s about “letting the world tell you stuff.”

Armoo wants people to stop focusing on their to-do list and instead remember it’s about, as he explains, “not measuring my output or my value as just the number of things that I got done during the day.” He goes on to say that “often we think success comes from the amount of stuff we do but actually, it comes from the quality of decisions you make.”

Examples of leadership such as Armoo’s are a reminder that running a company with empathy and humanity only serves to get the very best from the people you are working with as well as leading to overall business success. For now, heeding Armoo’s advice, step back, put your headphones in and take yourself for a walk. You never know what the world might show you.

Related Tags

Social Media Founder