Research from the Irish International Business Network, has revealed that social media remains a major challenge for many businesses in Ireland, with a fifth of Irish businesses (19.4%) expressing that they are not confident in their ability to use social media.
Despite Ireland being the home of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter headquarters in Europe, it appears that business owners are struggling to get to grips with social media as a marketing tool, with over a third (38.7%) of all businesses surveyed believing that their social media activity was ineffective or not knowing if it was achieving their business goals.
In order of importance, the five main reasons companies in Ireland use social media are to:
- Improve brand awareness – 87.1%
- Promote products and services – 74.2%
- Increase consumer engagement – 71%
- Drive two-way communication with customers – 67.7%
- Increase sales – 45.2%
Pat Carroll, IIBN board member and online marketer, comments: “The IIBN report demonstrates a common challenge for Irish entrepreneurs. They know what they want to achieve from their social media but they don’t know how to go about implementing it and often end up abandoning the idea of social media activity completely.”
The report also found that the majority of businesses (32.3%) spend just six to 10 hours a week on social media activity, while 20% commit more than 30 hours a week to it. Surprisingly, an eighth (12.9%) of respondents didn’t know how long they spend on social media, which suggests a lack of monitoring and structure around it.
The most popular channels used for online networking amongst Irish businesses are:
- LinkedIn – 93.5%
- Twitter – 87.1%
- Facebook – 54.5%
- YouTube – 32.3%
- Company blog – 29%
Carroll continues: “Social media is far too important for businesses to ignore. It plays a significant role in the lives of today’s consumers and can greatly enhance brand awareness and reputation, if they execute their social strategy effectively. There is no excuse not to integrate social into their marketing activities; there are agencies that specialise in social media, many excellent courses available across the country and online, as well as support from Local Enterprise Boards.
“While my ‘day-job’ involves utilising email marketing and social media to help clients promote their businesses online, I firmly believe that combining online with face-to-face networking is the real ‘secret sauce’ to effectively promoting one’s brand or service.”
The IIBN illustrated the benefit of merging social media and face-to-face networking perfectly at their fourth annual Global Conference in New York, in November. They used Twitter to amplify the event content and share their message via over 900 tweets, which ultimately reached some 2.4 million timelines, according to the Hashtracking analytics tool.