Irish SMEs use social media to engage consumers and spy on employees

29 May 2014

Social media image via Rawpixel/Shutterstock

According to research by Mindshare carried out among Irish SMEs, small businesses in Ireland are becoming more savvy when it comes to social media – though they’re taking a risk by using it to review potential employees.

A survey of Irish SMEs carried out on behalf of Bord Gáis Energy, 37pc plan to increase social media investment over the next 12 months – and it’s investment that’s evidently needed, as 55pc view their social media performance as average or poor.

While most SMEs agreed that social media is most useful when it comes to customer engagement, the survey also revealed that 44pc will research candidates’ online profiles when it comes to recruitment.

“Your boss is probably following you on Twitter under that generic account name and watching what you’re saying about the company. So, my advice is, behave on social media as you do in person,” said Damien Mulley, founder of the Bord Gáis Energy Social Media Awards – or ‘Sockies’ – which this year has introduced two new categories exclusively dedicated to SMEs.

Mulley also advised that employers need to be careful as they may find themselves on the wrong side of employment law. “If they’re profiling job applicants and using social media, they themselves might get in trouble as you are only meant to evaluate on the application received,” he said.

But employers can also use social media to check up on current employees, and almost one-quarter of those surveyed admitted to firing or warning staff due to online behaviour.

Social media savvy

While snooping bosses might be a deterrent, 41pc of businesses surveyed encourage staff to use social media as part of their roles at work.

It’s clear that social and other online media are becoming more important to Irish SMEs and, among those surveyed, 17pc of advertising budgets are allocated to online advertising compared to 12pc for print.

However, with 17pc of Irish SMEs still without a website, some businesses are still playing catch-up.

“While businesses are allocating a significant percentage of available spend to advertising online, there is still a long way to go as almost half of SMEs surveyed don’t integrate social media with their main websites and over half again don’t measure or only sporadically measure their social media performance,” said Eoin Ó Súilleabháin, digital and social media manager with Bord Gáis Energy.

Social media image by Rawpixel via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.