Irish firms are ahead of the game in using social networks, blogs, microblogs and online forums to connect and engage with existing customers, according to new research from global workspace provider Regus.
Nearly two-thirds (64pc) are now exploiting these channels to build customer loyalty, which places them significantly ahead of the global average of 52pc, the US (50pc) and all major European economies.
The research also reveals that the last year has seen a rise in Irish companies using social media to win new business. In 2010, Regus found that 40pc of Irish firms were successfully winning new customers through the channel; a year later, the proportion has risen four percentage points to 44pc. Although this is below the global average of 47pc, Irish firms also lead the UK (41pc) and the US (43pc) in their usage of social media for customer acquisition.
More than half (52pc) of Irish firms encourage their employees to join business networks – roughly on a par with the global average – and more than two-fifths (41pc) devote up to 20pc of their marketing budget to business social networking activity (compared to the global average of a third).
Social media and marketing
Overall, the report demonstrates that social networking has fully evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity as the majority of businesses in Ireland (76pc) and globally (74pc) agree that without social media activity their marketing initiatives cannot hope to be successful. Nevertheless, firms are also emphasising the need for a balance of marketing media, confirming their belief that without a combination of traditional and digital techniques marketing campaigns will not work (61pc in Ireland and globally).
The global Regus survey findings are based on the responses of more than 17,000 managers and business owners across 80 countries.
Olivier de-Lavalette, regional vice-president Ireland, comments: "Social networking has finally come into its own in the commercial world, with Irish firms clearly leading the way in building customer loyalty by connecting and engaging with customers through the channel.
“Increasing numbers of firms are also leveraging social media as a successful acquisition tool. As businesses seek to drive economic recovery, they are reconsidering pre-recession working practices and opting for more flexible, competitive strategies. From supply chain management, to leaner working practices, to cloud computing, to increased use of video communications and mobile working, no area of business is being overlooked. The rapid development of social media as a core business tool is clearly part of this transformation."
Article courtesy of Bizstartup.ie