Selling Ireland 2.0

29 Sep 2008

Given the current state of the economy, there is no better time than right now to take a serious look at Web 2.0 technologies, or the social web, and figure out how these tools can help us build and define brand Ireland. This was one of the messages that emerged loud and clear from the second ever Podcamp Ireland, which took place in Kilkenny city this 27 September past.

With a guest speaker in the form of Minister for Trade and Commerce, John McGuinness TD, the topic up for discussion was the business of social media and how it was appropriate for a business to engage in semi-formal social portals with established and potential customers –whether it should be a corporate or personal voice that represents an entity.

While discussion proved this was not a black and white area, with speaker Brendan Hughes from FBD Ireland pondering on the desired end result of such engagement via the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook et al, it did seem clear that good intentions on the part of the industry and Government to market brand Ireland did not appear to be taking advantage of these tools.

Blogging is seen a one of the social milestones that gave voices to millions and let opinions and stories be heard that hithertofore were silenced, and according to Minister McGuinness, the old culture of keeping secrets needed to be replaced by a desire to be open and engaging.

“Let’s have the conversation,” said McGuinness. When asked if he would be comfortable with civil servants in his department blogging, he simply replied ‘yes’.

Of course, this immediately brought up debate on the job security of such individuals, what was appropriate to say in an online forum and perhaps the need for anonymity.

The outcome of the debate was interesting: social media is definitely something that works well for small business, but as for guidelines on what the general public will accept from large corporates and Government? Let’s keep having the conversation.

By Marie Boran