This is a guest blog post contributed by Brian Maher of WebAgency.
Choosing the right digital agency has never been more important. Digital marketing offers the potential to track ROI much more accurately than is possible with offline media. Plus, the digital revolution is not going away; more users are engaging online more often and with more brands than ever before. Simply put, few brands can afford to be without an effective digital marketing strategy.
If you want to embrace this “new” industry and benefit from the advantages that it presents, you must work with a company that understands your unique marketing and communication requirements.
In this article I’ll present 5 elements that will help you choose the right digital partner for your business.
The first question you should ask is: What services does the company offer? Your digital agency should offer digital marketing as well as web design services. When your web designer understands digital marketing they will be able to build your site to incorporate your marketing objectives; this means that they’ll design with consideration for search engine accessibility and usability (this is sometimes called SEO web design).
Working with a single, full serviced digital marketing company also means less work for you as you won’t have to source multiples agencies or manage communication between each of the people providing different digital elements.
A full serviced company should offer:
• Web design and development
• Web strategy and planning
• Search engine optimisation
• Search engine marketing
• Online advertising
• Social media marketing
• Copy writing
• Mobile web solutions
• Email marketing
These days, it’s usual that most of the above services will be delivered as standard by one agency, but the agency may also work closely with preferred partners to deliver specific technologies, like mobile or social media applications. This is the norm and you can feel comfortable working with agencies that operate like this as long as they have an established relationship with their partner vendor and they will stand over the quality of the finished work.
2. New technologies
Online marketing is evolving faster than any marketing medium that came before it. Just a few years ago, companies including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter did not even exist. Now, some of their sites boast user numbers as high as 800 million.
Digital marketing moves quickly, so you should work with an agency that values research. Seek out an agency populated by people who are geeks for trends and who enjoy learning about and trialing new technologies. They will ensure that your brand remains at the crest of the digital wave. Make them your new best friends.
An experienced agency should have an extensive portfolio of work. Review this and familiarise yourself with it. This portfolio will give you a good sense of an agency’s capabilities and will help you to make better sense of references and testimonials.
However, there’s always a pinch of salt. When you’re viewing an agency’s portfolio remember that the agency is only as creative as their client and that the work that the agency does is tailored to that client’s marketing and communication objectives (and the specifics of the brief).
It’s particularly valuable to review work completed for clients in an industry or sector similar to your own. This said, avoid partnering with an agency that currently works with one of your direct competitors as this can create a conflict of interest.
4. Meet key people
People drive ideas and people rather than technology will determine whether your project is a success or a failure. With this in mind, always take the time to meet the key people within an agency. This will help you to ascertain whether the company has the values and work ethic that you are looking for.
I usually request an initial meeting at their offices. This helps me to gauge their work environment and get a feel for their operation. You might also request a presentation on their services and existing clients.
5. Do they practice what they preach?
It’s not unusual to meet an agency and walk away with a positive feeling, only to find out that they have no digital strategy for their own business – or worse, that they appear beside negative comments in reviews or on board sites.
Personally, I don’t feel 100% comfortable giving my SEO account to a company that has a low search engine presence, particularly for really closely related terms or for their company name.
It’s important that the agency you choose to work with believes in the services they are selling to the point they are implementing them themselves.
Finally, when you’ve narrowed down your search and are selecting between a handful of agencies, remember that you should choose an agency on the basis of quality rather than price. All too often clients are fixated on the price tag and think that the lowest fee will guarantee them a good return on investment. This is rarely the case. High quality, effective and efficient service will always win in the long run.
Choosing an agency should never be about the first date, but rather about the potential for a meaningful, long-term relationship (yep, digital marketing just got soppy). Choosing the right agency can be the beginning of something beautiful.
It’s Seachtain na Gaeilge this, em, fortnight and today is St. Patrick’s Day. As any
stalkers readers who have been reading this blog over the last three years will know I am a fluent Irish speaker. In fact I write a monthly technology column for the long-running Irish Langauge Online Zine Beo! My editor has kindly allowed me to republish a recent article I wrote about Quora to help the IIA commemorate Seachtain na Gaeilge.
In this article I give a basic overview of this new curated knowledge site that came out of private beta at the beginning of the year to much acclaim. I didn’t write too much about the business applications of Quora. However I have obviously been thinking about that since and briefly I think they are as follows:
- Share your expertise: when answering a question on Quora you can adjust your bio to suit that question. E.g. I work for the IIA so when I’m answering the question “How can professional associations survive Web 2.0?” I make it clear that I am a membership manager with a professional association. However if I wanted to respond to another question in the Television category I might set my bio to refer to my credentials as a TV critic.
- Gain knowledge: Many complain about the mundanity of much of the content on Facebook and Twitter. “Oh there are two many updates like “I’m on the bus.” In contrast to this Quora is heavily curated and while you can follow those in your network (or not!) you can also choose to follow specific topics (e.g. I am following Social Media Marketing) In fact you can follow only topics and no people at all.
- Build your network: However following topics and questions relating to your industry will allow you to develop your network, especially internationally. Quora’s system which allows users to “vote up” answers will also allow you to quickly recognise who is rated among their peers. This could potentially allow you to scout partners in different regions or, in our case, potential speakers.
- Search: While Quora actively discourages mentioning brand names their site is completely open to the search engines so sharing your knowledge and expertise on a topic that your customers search for and using keywords
cannilynaturally in your responses will only lead those customers back to you. E.g. Check out this thread on “wine opener gadgets“.
What other potential business applications does Quora have? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Also you can read ReadWriteWeb’s thoughts on the applications for Small Business.
Tá giolla nua sa ghairdín a bhfuiltear ag tabhairt an ’Facebook nua’ air. Tá an clú sin tuillte aige toisc an chosúlacht idir a sheirbhís agus “Facebook Questions”. Níl an tseirbhís sin ó Facebook ar fáil ar fud an domhain go fóill, ach tá seirbhís Quora i ngach cearn a bhfuil an t-idirlíon ar fáil. Séard atá i Quora ná ceisteanna curtha, freagartha agus coiméadta ag an bpobal atá in úsáid. Is léir gur thuig bunaitheoirí Quora go raibh daoine ag úsáid an idirlín chun ceisteanna a fhreagairt agus ba léir ó leithéidí Twitter agus Facebook go raibh siad ag cur níos mó muinín i bhfreagraí ó dhaoine in ionad a chur sna freagraí a fuair siad ó chuardach Google.
Is céim nádúrtha i dtimthriall cuardaigh iad Quora is a mhacasamhail. Thosnaigh cuardach le leithéid Yahoo a bhailíodh ábhar spéisiúil agus a choimeádadh é ar a son siúd a bhí ag cuardach eolais. Ach d’éirigh an tIdirlíon i bhfad rómhór, róthapaigh agus cruthaíodh Google. Ach anois tá an-iomarca tuisceana ar algartam Google agus tá an t-inneall seo faoi ionsaí ag na seoltóirí turscair is na scrábaire scáileáin agus is minic nach bhfaightear aon eolas feidhmiúil go dtí an dtríú nó an ceathrú leathanach.
Tháinig ar an saol mar sin, ní hamháin Quora, ach na céadta seirbhísí eile atá ag déanamh iarracht an t-eolas a choimeád in ord agus in eagar don bhrabhsálaí idirlín. Tá ar ndóigh, Yahoo Answers ann ach tá an suíomh seo truaillithe nuair nach bhfuil córas ceart coimeádta air. Féach mar shampla an bailiúchán seo de cheisteanna is de fhreagraí dochreidte. Bí cúramach – tá an t-ábhar seo NSFW mar a deirtear in acrainim Béarla (“Not Safe For Work”).
Níos Deisiúla Fós
Tá neart suíomhanna téacs agus meáin saibhre ann a mhíníonn conas rudaí a dhéanamh is a fhreagraíonn ceisteanna VideoJug, About, WikiHow agus fiú YouTube agus Wikipedia ach tá cúpla rud ann a chabhraíonn le Quora:
- Tá sé simplí agus soiléir: tá an t-inneall cuardaigh ag an mbarr ar fad. Tar éis cuardach a dhéanamh, muna mbíonn do cheist curtha cheana féin romhat, is féidir do cheist féin a chur. Sula gcuirtear an chéad cheist, caithfear ceacht sciobtha a dhéanamh. Tá trí shampla den saghas ceiste atá muintir Quora ag lorg agus caithfidh tú an sampla ceart a roghnú. Rud beag teagascach b’fhéidir, ach is léir go luath go bhfuil foireann Quora dáiríre faoi chaighdeán an ábhair ar a suíomh.
- Agus ag caint ar fhoireann Quora: tá an feidhmchlár idirlín seo cruthaithe ag meitheal innealtóirí iar-Facebook, ina measc Adam d’Angelo an chéad phríomhfheidhmeannach teicneolaíochta ar Facebook. Seo dream daoine a bhfuil saineolas acu, ní hamháin ar chruthú gréasáin sóisialta, ach ar úsáid, mí-úsáid agus ar fhorbairt gréasáin sóisialta.
- Tuiscint agus taithí: leis an tuiscint agus taithí sin, thóg bunaitheoirí Quora gréasán a úsáideann an dá rudaí is tábhachtaí ar an idirlíon le deich mbliana anuas: sóisialtacht agus cuardach. Chruthaigh siad feidhmchlár leis an eolas seo a thit i lár na deighilte eatarthu. Is féidir an suíomh a chuardach ach is féidir cairde is comhluadar a leanúint nó is féidir brabhsáil trí ábhar nó amlíne. Ach mar bharr ar sin, tá Quora oscailte do chuardach Google; muna bhfuil spéis agat mar sin, tumadh isteach i Quora féin, gheobhaidh tú freagra ar do cheist ar Google ar aon nós. Chomh maith leis sin má tá foláirimh eocharfhocal socraithe agat ag Google.com/alerts, ba chóir go bhfaigheadh tú foláirimh ar an ábhar gur spéis leat ó Quora leis. Seo éagsúlacht bhunúsach idir Quora agus Facebook: tá Facebook, don chuid is mó, dúnta ó chuardaigh Google. Ar an taobh sóisialta de, tá Quora go hiomlán nasctha le Twitter, Google agus Facebook tríd a nApi-anna agus is féidir leat do chairde ar na gréasáin sin atá ag úsáid Quora a leanúint gan stró agus is féidir ceisteanna is freagraí a roinnt ar na gréasáin sin freisin.
- Daoine seachas ábhar; ábhar seachas daoine: Is minic a leantar daoine ar Twitter agus leathanaigh ar Facebook mar tá spéis agat san ábhar atá faoi chaibidil ag an duine nó ag an leathanach sin. Ag tógáil ar an mian sin, is féidir tosnú ar Quora trí ábhar a leanúint in ionad daoine. Is féidir cuirithe a chur amach chuig cairde ar leith agus sa chuireadh is féidir ábhar ar leith a lua leo. Mar shampla, nuair a thug mé cuireadh do mo mháthair, iarmhúinteoir Francaise, luaigh mé léi trí eocharfhocal a bhuail isteach go mbeadh sí abalta “múineadh” “An Fhrainc”, “Tuismitheoireacht” agus “Fraincis” a leanúint. Nó i mbéarlagair Quora féin “thug” mé ábhar di.
- Muinín: Ceann de na deacrachtaí is mó le Google, go háirithe anois ó tá sé go hiomlán “imeartha” ag na saineolaí optamú inneall cuardaigh ná nach féidir leat a bheith cinnte gurb iad na torthaí a fhaigheann tú na torthaí is fearr. Ar Quora is féidir vóta a chaitheamh ar son an freagra is fearr ar cheist, is féidir tráchtaireacht a fhágáil ar cheist agus fiú amháin, is féidir eagarthóireacht a dhéanamh, ní hamháin ar fhreagra ach ar an gceist féin. Chomh maith leis sin tá cnaipe chun buíochas a gabháil le freagróir ar leith. Mar sin, go háirithe ar na hábhair is conspóidí, d’fhéadfá a bheith cinnte go leor go bhfuil an pobal ag faireadh air.
Seoladh Quora i lár an samhraidh seo chaite ach bhí sé dúnta do chách seachas an dream a raibh cuireadh faighte acu. Osclaíodh é don saol mór le mí anuas, ach cheana, tá daoine mór le rá ar líne an-tógtha leis, An Scobleizer féin ina measc, a scríobh
“I’m really loving it. I have a hard time explaining why. I’m not the only one, either. Wow.”
Rabhadh amháin áfach: bí ar an eolas gur slogaide ama amach is amach é an suíomh seo agus níl aon nuálacht ag baint leis sin. Is féidir mise a leanúint ag http://www.quora.com/Roseanne-Smith
This week’s case study has been written by Gordon Jenkinson of Jenerate.
Bacardi Ireland distributor, Edward Dillon & Co, traditionally used normal micro sites such as www.blive.ie to promote their sponsorship of music events on the Internet throughout the year including the hugely popular Oxegen and Electric Picnic festivals.
In 2008 they looked at the possibility of using social networking to get better targeting and some viral penetration to a wider audience. Given the target audience and the fact that Bebo and MySpace were not receptive to alcohol advertising, Facebook was chosen as the platform upon which to build an interest in the brand, to run competitions in association with the Blive events and generally to help spread the word on the Bacardi Blive sponsored events throughout the year.
A Facebook profile page was set up and maintained as well as a Facebook application to manage competitions and acquire information for the Bacardi eCRM database. The general idea of the competition was a chance to win VIP tickets for you and your friends through a custom built Facebook application.
To encourage the viral spread of this through Facebook in the run up to the events the winner was the Facebook user that had the most friends with the application added to their profile. This gave users control over winning the competition rather than it being a pure lottery.
User positions were updated hourly and notifications sent to entrants on a regular basis telling them how many more friends they needed to add to get to first place. This information had the desired effect and entrants realising they only needed 10 more friends to get to the winning position started sending it around to increase there position. As well as this, they could see the top 5 people and also there current position at any time throughout the competition.
Banner advertising on popular Irish sites and flyers handed out throughout the year were used to seed the initial entrants and get the competition going. Other spot prizes for fans of the page and users of the application were given out between the events to encourage participation and interaction with the Bacardi Ireland Facebook presence.
As part of the competition sign-up, entrants were asked some brand questions to gauge brand recognition and opinions. Details were collected and stored in the Bacardi eCRM database and used for future campaigns and event notifications.
The final result was an almost four fold increase in the number of competition entrants and an even bigger increase in term of brand interaction across the Bacardi Facebook profiles and the blive.ie website.
A large aid to this interaction was the use of Facebook photo galleries where people were photographed at Blive events and encouraged to tag themselves in the Facebook albums. These photos were not only available on Facebook but also pulled directly from Facebook into the blive.ie website. These photo galleries created significant post event traffic to the Blive.ie websites as well as interaction and sign-up to the Bacardi Facebook pages.
One of the main lessons learnt from this successful experiment with Facebook was to create an application that runs with or without Facebook. As part of the process visitors were asked if they had a Facebook account and were directed to the normal competition site or to the Facebook one. Almost as many entrants came through the normal site as through the Facebook application.
Also, the integration of the Facebook photo albums using the Facebook API allowed the viewing of tagged photos within Facebook or from the normal site. It’s also useful to copy or mirror interactions with Facebook pages onto your normal site this allows visitors to what would normally be a static site to see some comments, events and other banter focused around the brand.
With the introduction of Facebook Connect late last year the options for this type of website integration to Facebook is even greater, allowing completely Facebook-integrated websites.
The other more complex aspect is ensuring that the promotion of the Facebook pages and application are sufficient to seed it and the rewards for sign-up are clear and worthwhile.
Monitoring of visitors and the decisions they make is very important. This was monitored using analytics during the campaign and the sign-up pages and the navigation from the initial page through to competition sign-up were optimised for more competition entries.
The IIA supports responsible drinking and encourages readers of this post to visit www.drinkaware.ie.
The IIA’s Social Media Working Group is pleased to be able to present a short selection of business bloggers in Ireland. This list was gathered together as part of our recent research into business blogging in Ireland. We asked each of the participants in that research if they would like to be featured as a case study and the following are the bloggers that graciously agreed.
As you will see the blogs stretch across many sectors of business in Ireland, including financial services, marketing, member associations, professional services, recruitment, retail, technology and a number of individual consultants. While this list is not exhaustive it will hopefully give a flavour of the types of business blogs that exist in Ireland.
We will happily add other blogs to the the complete list which will be maintained on our dedicated wiki. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your business blog to be included.
If you are interested in finding out more about the potential benefits of blogging to your business, then join us on April 22nd at our “Join the Conversation – Business Blogging” breakfast briefing in Dublin city centre.
Irish Mortgage Brokers – http://www.mortgagebrokers.ie/blog
The MortgageBrokers.ie blog mainly deals with economics and business related issues with a strong focus on mortgages and market trends. As an Internet-drive sales company, Irish Mortgage Brokers see their blog and website as central to the growth of their business.
No Nonsense Car Insurance – http://blog.nononsense.ie
The No Nonsense Car Insurance blog offers tips on buying insurance, saving money and talks about a range of other topics that No Nonsense feel their customers would be interested in. The blog has so far delivered increased visibility on search engines and has seen an increased profile for the new brand.
PaddyPower Trader – http://www.paddypowertrader.com
The Paddy Power Trader blog supports financial markets traders (many of whom trade from home, some of whom are novices) with education, views on the market and examples of ‘how the professionals do it’. Paddy Power see blogs and community as a unique selling point of their service, engendering loyalty, attracting new customers, improving stickiness and increasing average spend per client.
RaboDirect – http://www.rabodirect.ie/blog/default.aspx
The RaboDirect blog was established to give customers and potential customers the chance to comment on the kind of things being talked about everyday at RaboDirect; the changing financial climate, existing products, new products or what customers think of them in general. RaboDirect sees their blog as an important part of their strategy in helping to build trust in their brand.
FBD Insurance (Twitter) – http://www.twitter.com/fbd_ie
FBD Insurance launched its Twitter activity to support their mission to be a customer-focused insurance company, seeking to replicate online the familiar approach developed through their nationwide local office network. The Twitter activity has helped to manage customer feedback and generate leads to the FBD website for the car and home insurance products. Twitter has helped the company to build a positive perception of the brand as progressive, innovative and customer-focused.
Applied Signs and Display – http://applied-signs-and-display.blogspot.com/
The Applied Signs and Display blog presents news, opinion and information on all manner of topics relevant to their business and their varied customer base. The blog features an ongoing ‘Product Glossary’ series and they host guest bloggers from the fields of Design, Event Planning, Exhibiting and Sales, as well as General Business and Marketing within an Irish context.
Biz Growth News – http://www.bizgrowthnews.com
The Biz Growth News blog covers resources and tips to build buzz about your brand and your business both offline and through digital marketing communications and social media. It does so through multimedia using articles, podcasts, photographs and online video’s. The blog has enabled the company to extend it’s reach internationally and has enabled the organisation to attract clients and establish strategic joint ventures from across the globe. The blog is authored by the company founder and they also syndicate their blog posts across Twitter, Facebook, Linked in and other social networks where their customers are congregating therefore attracting more visitors and readers to the site.
CadaMedia – http://blog.cadamedia.ie
The CadaMedia blog is a news and events page for clients and a general discussion area for internet users in the Southeast. CadaMedia were the 1st in Ireland to mention the new VAT Rates and it brought them in thousands of hits. The blog has provided their customers with a less formal way of getting in touch and asking questions.
Channelship – http://www.channelship.ie/blog/
The goal of the Channelship business blog is to share useful information and opinions gathered from business networking events, seminars and people in Ireland and abroad. The team also enjoys commenting on the highlights of their daily activities. Channelship have found it to be fantastic way to interact, learn, meet new people and promote their company, enhancing their PR and Google rankings.
Interactive Return – http://www.interactivereturn.com/blog
The Interactive Return Online Marketing blog is used to provide insights and news to the Online Marketing industry, paying close attention to trends in Ireland. Blogs includes company news, industry news, advice and best practices for their areas of expertise, and opinions on current industry topics. Their website has seen an incredible increase in traffic due to blogging activities. They have added credibility to their client case studies and are being received positively in social media.
iQ Content – http://www.iqcontent.com/blog
The IQ Content blog is updated by a group of staff within the business, posting thoughts, observations and opinions on the world of usability. The blog has delivered inbound leads and sales calls, has helped to attract new staff and has supported building a positive brand perception.
Made In Hollywood – http://www.madeinhollywood.ie
The Made in Hollywood blog is supports the core business of creating objects from polystyrene foam(EPS). The aim of the blog is to show readers how versatile and manifold are the uses of EPS, as well as featuring particular projects. The business hope that the blog, which has just launched, will be able to add interest and improve SEO with added content, as well as engaging with customers to make sure they are delivering the correct product/service to them.
Red Cardinal Limited – http://www.redcardinal.ie
The Red Cardinal team blog about Internet marketing and search engine optimisation.
Newsweaver - http://www.newsweaver.co.uk/emailnewsletters
The “…Email Matters!” blog has been running for two years. It is written by denise cox, Newsletter Specialist for Newsweaver. Newsweaver is Europe’s leading email newsletter software provider. In 2007 Newsweaver won the IIA’s Best Business Blogger Net Visionary award. The aim of …Email Matters! is to help any marketer interested in best practice for best results in their email marketing. Posts always pertain to email, and generally cover examples, benchmarks and statistics, best practice, legal updates and tips. The blog has proven to be an excellent retention tool – with clients providing feedback that they find it very useful. It has also helped to attract new customers. The blog has helped with the Google ranking for the company website. Also, having embedded a discreet link at the end of each blog post to a free trial offer of Newsweaver software, they have seen many new leads come through this link. The blog has given the author, denise cox, a visibility in the international email marketing/ESP field, and has resulted in requests to speak at conferences, contribute to publications and appear on panels around the world.
Irish Internet Association – http://blog.iia.ie
The Irish Internet Associations blog An association blog that seeks to promote the products and services of member companies and promote IIA events. The blog has helped to increase credibility among members of the association.
Junior Chamber International Dublin – http://jcidublinpresident2009.blogspot.com/
This is the blog of the president of the President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce Dublin and is intended to keep members up-to-date on activities and events throughout the year. This blog has just been launched an it is anticipated that it will help to raise the profile of the organization, building credibility online with their members, partners and sponsors.
Moore Group – http://mooregroup.wordpress.com/
A specialist business blog, the Moore Group blog deals with archaeological, environmental, energy and heritage issues. One of the principle goals of the blog is to disseminate the results of their work (a legal obligation) and to inform our stakeholders on archaeological and environmental issues and new knowledge, as well as to sometimes entertain.
FranchiseYourBusiness.ie – http://www.irishfranchiseblog.com
The Franchise Your Business blog provides information on franchising in Ireland. Within a short space of time the blog has helped the business achieve higher search engine rankings for their preferred search terms.
Sensei Learning and Performance – http://www.sensei-winbeforehand.co.uk
The Sensei Learning and Performance blog talks about all things business-related. Favourite topics include social media; customer services; education/brain/learning; personal and professional development; emotional intelligence; assertiveness and confidence. The blog has helped to bring in bookings, raise the company’s profile, inform people of services and provide a human face to the business. Feedback from customers is that they love it.
CV Café – http://cvcafe.com/blog
CV Café decided after reading up on blogging that there was no other way to go for their business. They started blogging recently and are planning to use it to get their name out.
Flexitimers – http://www.flexitimers.com/flexible-future
Flexitimers use their business blog to engage companies on the benefits of flexible staffing. The have a separate blog, FlexiTimes, which is to engage professionals looking for flexible work. The key benefits that the business has seen to date include improved search engine rankings and greater engagement with the online community.
RecruitIreland (Twitter) – http://www.twitter.com/recruitireland.
RecruitIreland began to microblog on Twitter to give the website a personality and to answer questions from candidates and companies who are recruiting with a view to differentiating themselves from the competition. The activity on Twitter has generated sales leads in addition to feedback and suggestions from candidates about how to do things differently or feedback about usability which they see as invaluable. Overall the Twitter activities make them more accessible and interactive and gives them another invaluable way to communicate with their users.
Working Nine to Five – http://officejobsireland.wordpress.com/
The Working Nine to Five blog features career tips, issues that may arise in the working environment, recommended events, books or work practices and sometimes just light observations on working in the office. The blog has provided the core business AdminJobs.ie an additional medium to create a personality to their business. It has also allowed the business to communicate on a personal level with their site visitors.
Curious Wines – http://www.curiouswines.ie/blog
The Curious Wines blog talks about anything related to wine but is presented in a light-hearted, accessible manner. Topics include everything from sector comment, to educational pieces, to recipes and food-matching, to book reviews, to their promotions. The blog has helped build a small community interested in their business and brand. For a new brand it was essential to provide a public face and personality in a cost effective manner – blogging is allowing them to achieve this.
Ice Cream Ireland – http://www.icecreamireland.com
The Ice Cream Ireland blog is the business blog of Murphy’s Ice Cream. In addition to dozens of recipes the blog provides news and updates to customers on the business’s activities and new products. The blog has brought customers to their retail shops, helped facilitate comments, complaints, and suggestions and sense of community among customers. The business has received much publicity as a result of the blog and a book deal for an ice cream cookbook “The Book of Sweet Things” came directly as a result of the blog.
Nice Day Designs – http://www.nicedaydesigns-ruth.blogspot.com/
The Nice Day Designs blog provides insights into the processes of the author’s design business. Ruth Crean is a young designer and artist based in Limerick. Because she is selling hand craft she feels it is important to give people a narrative and a face to the product they are buying. As a direct result of her blog Ruth was approached by RTE1′s Nationwide, and therefore received national advertising for free, this in turn has led to other media attention. The blogs has also helped to build up a very positive and accessible identity to her business.
PuddleDucks – http://blog.puddleducks.ie/
The purpose of the blog is to post information about the PuddleDucks business and website, along with information on running the business that might be useful to others. It is a mixture of product information, how PuddleDucks utilise online marketing tools and snippets of news about running a home business. The PuddleDucks blog has provided the business with better visibility and brand recognition. Building awareness among the blogging community has shown positive benefits through networking opportunities.
Rangoli Jewellery – http://rangolijewellery.blogspot.com/
Rangoli Jewellery is run by Aisling Nelson; a bridal jewellery and hair accessories designer. The blog is designed to share ideas and inspiration with existing and potential clients and to elaborate on special commissions that the designer has undertaken. The blog helps to provide a more of a human face to the business. The main website is a catalogue, whereas
this forum allows the owner to engage more with existing and potential clients while sharing information about current or future projects.
Rules of Golf – http://www.barryrhodes.com
This blog provides miscellaneous content for anyone who wishes to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Rules of Golf. The objective is to widen the market for the author’s CD and book products. Barry Rhodes is developing a worldwide following in his narrow niche market at practically no cost.
Tast.ie – http://www.tast.ie
Initially a personal food blog featuring a large catalogue of delicious recipes juxtaposed with a small amount of personal content about the author’s family. With the assistance of the Offaly County Enterprise Board, Tast.ie grew into Spicendipity.com, an artisan food business which sells homemade, 100% natural spice mixes, baking mixes and a range of sauces over the Internet.
Worldwide Cycles – http://www.worldwidecyclesblog.com
The Worldwide Cycles blog presents the view from behind the counter of a bike shop and from the saddle whilst on the road. The blog has helped the business raise its national profile, enlarge its catchments area and increased sales of high end products.
BH Consulting – http://www.bhconsulting.ie/securitywatch
BH Consulting’s blog provides expert commentary and insight into information security issues that would be of interest to the Irish Business community. The blog has delivered business leads, media coverage and helped secure a book-writing deal.
Blacknight – http://blog.blacknight.com + 17 others
The Blacknight blogs cover a variety of topics, from promotional / marketing through general news and technical topics. The blog has won numerous awards as well as generating PR and press coverage for the business.
EchoLibre – http://blog.echolibre.com
These technologists blog about things they are passionate about; PHP, MySQL, CouchDB, Linux, Apache – web development standards. They also write about building web apps and working with web technology. EchoLibre see their blog as one of the easiest ways they have of establishing a reputation and credibility. As a young company they see this as very important.
Saastek – http://saastek.com/company-blog/
The Saastek blog deals with software and technology for small to medium businesses and offers reviews of Enterprise 2.0 software. The blog has helped to increase Google ranking. It also helps the business crystallise their thinking about particular products and trends and has been useful in attracting customer to their website.
Toca Sports – http://www.tocasports.com/blog
Toca Sports, a sports technology company, blog about everything from upcoming events to posting training videos to general interest pieces in the area of video analysis. Toca Sports see their business blog as a great way to kep people up-to-date with company news and events. They see it as a way of being less ‘corporate’ and allowing them to create a more human interaction with their potential customers.
Darragh Doyle – http://thisiswhatido.org
Darragh’s blog presents its audience with a mixture of articles, interviews, photos, reviews and stories. Business specific he highlights charity campaigns, publicises, works with and reviews art and cultural events and talks to and about people. Virtually all his opportunities come via his blog as he has no need for a corporate website.
Keith Bohanna – http://keith.bohanna.com
Keith Bohanna is an internet consultant and trainer and in his blog talks about himself and his business. The positive outcomes he has seen include engagement with his peer community and his personal brand development.
Keith Shirley – http://www.keithshirley.ie
Keith Shirley’s blog is mainly about the practical uses of IT and technology for small businesses. The blog has helped Keith pass on information to customers that is helpful but does not fit directly into daily business. The blog has opened up new business opportunities and helped with networking and raising Keith’s profile.
Krishna De (Twitter) – http://www.twitter.com/krishnade
Through sharing links to articles, resources and events, this micro blogger has developed a network of followers in Ireland and overseas. She has also found that it has helped her connect and engage directly with some of the most influential marketers in the world, something that would have been much harder to make happen before social media communications were available. She recommends and has created a specific Twitter landing page on her blog to provide information and resources for her Twitter followers.
Mr. Yap’s Blog – http://mryap.com/blog/
This blogger uses his blog to share experiences and offer advice and opinion on usability. He uses it to find new business, network and seek employment. Blogging offer his new prospects supplementary information to his resume and interview.
Reverb Studios – http://www.reverbstudios.ie/blog
The Reverb Studios blog covers mostly IT, Technology and Internet-related topics as well as some Current Affairs. The blog has been up and running since about autumn 2007 and since then it has attracted a massive increase in traffic from only a handful to around 4,000 unique hits a month. This has lead to a much higher profile and brand for Reverb Studios and has created networking opportunities and sales leads.
At the start of 2009 we undertook a survey among Irish businesses that already have blogs. We asked them a number of questions to try and understand the objectives of their blogging activities, what results they were seeing and how much time and effort they put into managing their blogs.
We will be discussing the results in detail at the Business Blogging breakfast briefing on April 22nd, but in the meantime here are the high-level survey results:
This is written by Campbell Scott of IGOPeople.com. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. Thanks! – RS, IIA.
Our previous case study gave an excellent overview of some of the social media tools that are available to businesses, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Youtube etc. This case study is based on observations about how O2 Ireland have embraced the use of social media, to get closer to their customers (and potential customers). This summary records some of the interactions with customers that have taken place, some of these on IGOpeople.
O2 were well aware that their brand, products and services, pricing etc. were all being talked about online by their customers. These discussions were taking place on blogs, discussion forums and social networks. Many people would have posted comments which were negative in tone, complaining about specific problems or the way they had been treated by O2 as a customer. For O2, the challenge was how to engage or join in the conversations taking place. Many of the comments in discussion forums are anonymous, or take place in a tone and context where O2’s response or involvement in the discussion may not be particularly welcome.
O2’s answer to this problem was to take the brave move of creating their own, open user discussion forum, where customers could ask questions and seek help, voice their opinion or complain. Registration was a requirement, to help O2 get in touch with members privately if required. This was a very positive move which was received well by O2 customers. As this was new territory for O2, they did demonstrate some early naivety, by correcting the content of some members posts, but their customer community was tolerant of this, as it was a new environment where everyone was learning.
Although the O2 Forum has developed from these early days and is now a popular and active community, O2 have extended the range of social media tools they use to reach customers, including Bebo, Twitter and now IGOpeople (links take you directly to the O2 profile page). We’re delighted to have O2 as part of IGOpeople, but everyone can learn from some of the specific conversations they have become involved in.
O2 have jumped straight into IGOpeople, posting regularly about items of interest to their customers – promoting shiny new phones and new product releases. This week, they offered customers the opportunity to direct any questions they may have to the Head of Customer Care – not something that is available to a consumer every day of the week!
However, the thing that is impressed me about O2, is the willingness to reach out to customers. There are a number of conversations where they acknowledge their shortcomings and state how they will fix things up, or recognise the need to make changes in the future. Their answers don’t always give you the answer you might demand, but they are there to listen and consistently discuss the issue, in a really honest and believable way – even if the answer isn’t quite what you want.
Here are some nice examples of the conversations they get involved in
And what illustrious company in the business blogs category in the Irish Blog Awards! We’re also delighted to see so many of our members being nominated for their business and, indeed, personal blogs. A nomination for an award shows that somebody sat down and chose you over all the other blogs they could have chosen for that category so it’s kudos no matter how the shortlists turn out. So a big thanks to whoever nominated us. It is a great reflection on us and all our guest bloggers.
You can see the entire list of nominations here. Do put some time aside before clicking on that link as you will find yourself being amazed, inspired and riveted to all that is going on in the Irish Blogosphere.
A while ago now I had the great fortune to be invited by Keith Brock in Fingal County Enterprise Board to make a presentation at the Fingal Day of Enterprise. My presentation focussed on Social Media and Business. (The presentation is available to download as a PDF from the IIA website and you can hear a report about the day from RTÉ Radio 1′s The Business broadcast on October 12th (MP3 file; Report on Fingal Day of Enterprise is at about 18mins 40 seconds) which includes a few words of advice from yours truly.)
My experience at the Fingal Day of Enterprise was revelatory for me in my role with the IIA as Membership manager. My presentation was the first of the day: the room was packed out and people were turned away. Needless to say it wasn’t my reknown as a public speaker that was drawing the crowds especially as this was the first time I delivered a presentation on behalf of the IIA so I was a wee bit nervous. Of course there are aspects of my talk that I would now change especially based on the questions asked during the Q&A and subsequent conversations that day and my own social media experiences since then more of which later all going to plan with my blogging today! I was speaking about how to integrate Social Media into your marketing plan and it’s obviously a subject in which many people have an interest.
The reason the day was revelatory was because it made me more aware than ever before of how much help people who are starting businesses need when creating their online presence. I was standing at our stand from 1pm until 8.15pm with a constant stream of new business owners and entrepreneurs asking me various questions not just about the IIA but about how to get the best return on their investment of time and money in their internet marketing, sales and communications activities. A number of delegates who approached me had web design/ development consultancies and in a way I was sorry I didn’t have a two way queuing system so I could introduce the delegates looking for developers/ designers to the delegates offering developement/ design services!
Krishna De was also there that day as a business mentor and she popped over once or twice to say hello (and take photos see above) and even offered to mind the stand while I grabbed a cuppa which, although I declined, I really appreciated. But her offer and the queue at the stand got me thinking. If I were to be doing outreach work like this in a location close to you would you, as an IIA member, be interested in helping at the stand for 30 minutes to an hour? It was a great way to meet people who were actively seeking advice and information about bringing their business online and I think it would be a great opportunity for IIA members offering those kind of services to meet them. It’s just an idea so let me know what you think of it.
Two days later I packed myself off to Kilkenny for PodCampIreland, and while I was there in a more personal capacity, I didn’t hide the fact that I work for the IIA but most people know that anyway. I was facilitating a conversation about Twitter which I found very interesting and I hope those whose conversation I was facilitating found interesting too. When I asked those attending my presentation in Fingal about their experience of social media, I got one hand up for blogging (who left before I finished eek!), a couple of hands for Facebook and three hands up from the boys in school uniforms when I asked about Bebo and MySpace.* I got a big blank “ye wha’?!” when I asked about use of Twitter in Fingal which contrasted wildly with those at PodCamp – I think only two out of the 20 or so present didn’t use Twitter. While I was mainly asking the PodCampers about what they use Twitter for, how it helps them, why does it appeal to them, what future they see for it, I also asked them how they felt about businesses getting into Twitter, whether they felt it was intrusive or fair enough. As Twitter is all based on permission, I argued, a business joining in a conversation on Twitter is not the same as a representative from a business landing in on top of your cosy chat in the pub which was the common metaphor that day for online conversations. In most social media you have to accept an invitation, befriend someone, follow someone etc. before they can approach you with their ideas or requests. In this spirit, I’ve said it before but no harm re-iterating, you will never be followed by the IIA on Twitter unless you follow the IIA first and I would recommend other businesses to consider a similar approach. If you are thinking about how to get started and you would like to use this approach, make sure you follow the IIA and I will let my followers know you are online and it will help you start to build your presence. And get chatty. It’s all about engaging in conversation! If somebody says they don’t like your product or service ask them how you can help them to have a better experience of it.
But I digress, PodCampIreland had a lot more to offer apart from me I attended a really interesting session by Dean Whitbread about Seesmic which was really interactive and involved us waving at a camera. Seesmic is a social network that allows people to converse using asynchronous videos, either recorded quick and dirty before uploading or prepared carefully and lovingly and uploaded. The great thing is that anyone can watch your video and respond. The other very nice thing about Seesmic is that you can set what sort of copyright you want applied to the video so that it can’t be just reproduced willy-nilly wherever the viewers wish unless you also wish it. It’s a great place to experiment with digital video and get feedback on your experiments so give it a go. I might see you there one of these days
I also attended a session by Mike Buckley about babyboomers online which turned into a very interesting conversation about who owns virtual space: young people or their parents; and about how technology can help preserve stories and pass them from generation to generation. I was reminded of this conversation on Tuesday when I attended the IIA/Limerick County Enterprise Board/ Marketing Institute of Ireland event on Tuesday. In her presentation Krishna De (who I think I have seen more of recently than my family ) suggested that those of us disinclined to write much should consider making their content available as audio or video - it might suit your style a lot more than the writtern word. She drew our attention to Bill Marriott’s Blog which he records and which is then transcribed. Now obviously if you are the owner of the Marriott hotel chain you can afford to pay someone to transcribe your tuppeny worth but for us mere mortals making the audio or video available (and you could use Seesmic or YouTube to make video available) is a snap and is either free or costs very little.
I really hoped to blog about a lot more today. Contrary to my advice at the Fingal Day of Enterprise where I encouraged people to blog on a Friday afternoon because they are more likely to get up and leave and go home/ to the pub rather than allow it to seep into their evening it is after five and I am still here. So I will wish you all a great weekend (I’ll see some of you at the inaugural Irish Web Awards), remind you to vote in the Net Visionary Awards and promised lots more very soon!
*Oh yes I was interested by the three uniformed lads putting their hands up to say they were using Bebo and MySpace and I kicked myself for not pointing out to the audience that if they hope to communicate with those who have disposable incomes in ten years time they better start using social media and their online presence more proactively because this is where the mid-teens of today are learning how to use the web.
A big welcome to Videoview who just joined the IIA. Videoview create rich video marketing for broadcast online, via DVD and on television. While they still haven’t cracked the old television puts on ten pounds chestnut but they are offering packages to suit all budgets, which allows any size company to avail of their interactive solutions for TV/Broadcast, Web Video, and DVD production.
I have my bed bagsed in my brother’s place in Kilkenny. I look forward to seeing you at PodCamp Ireland if you are going. The excitement is mounting, not least because of the organisers’ use of social media to attract attention. I’ve been listening to their podcasts, for example, and I think that Krishna De’s interview from last week’s podcast with Michele Neylon of Blacknight Solutions has some great pointers for those planning their domain name purchases, especially if you are considering buying a second-hand domain. Also on the show, winner of Best Personal Blogger in last year’s Irish Blog Awards, Grannymar, talks about her experience of starting a blog, giving some very good pointers on the essence of blogs, saying that some days she might only write two lines or post a photo and other days she might do more. As Krishna herself says Grannymar is an inspiration not least because she tells listeners to just go for it and commenters to get involved, “they are the lifeblood of any blog”. Even though hers is a personl blog, much that she has to say holds true for anyone considering starting a business blog. You can listen here at BlogTalkRadio (no fancy players required!). PodCampIreland are making use of all types of new and social media like RSS and blogs and microblogs and of course podcasts to facilitate the varied audience they have. Most of their content is published once but received by many in “the flavour” they like and much of it is done using free or cost-effective online applications.
Speaking of considering starting a business blog, one of our members has recently taken the plunge and considering the summer we have had here in Ireland I am amazed they had the time. Aedan and Suzanne Ryan are the people behind PuddleDucks, a company who sell waterproof clothing for adults and children. Aedan commented that he was much inspired by what he heard at the IIA Congress back in May about how organisations big and small were using Social Media to engage with their customers. I particularly liked their timely post a couple of weeks ago about getting kitted out for Electric Picnic.
Another company who are getting really into social media recently are IIA members, FBD.ie. You may have read on the IIA.ie website that they have just launched their new site. Part of their marketing campaign involved Twitter, including an advance launch of their site to Twitterers. They are also actively seeking comments from bloggers and twitterers and are engaging with them. Other IIA members using Twitter are the aforemnetioned Blacknight Solutions for whom it is, as they, a no-brainer with the profile of their clients. Two other IIA members, The Irish Times and RTÉ are also on Twitter but rather than using Twitter to start a conversation, they are using it to facilitate Twitterers who want regular news updates. RTÉ are feeding each of their news types through different twitter channels using the RSS feeds from their site.
The great thing about Twitter for a company like FBD, for example, is that they can approach those who twitter and if the Twitterer wants to, they can choose to allow FBD to follow them or not and conversely they can choose to follow FBD or not. It’s all about permission so it suits both parties very well. I have to admit that when setting my own ground rules for the IIA Twitter I decided that I would not follow anyone unless they followed IIA becuase I did not wish to be intrusive. I had, as I have mentioned before, been twittering in a personal capacity for some time and many of those following me were happy to follow the IIA tweets as well. I suppose the single greatest thing about Twitter and other microblogging platforms is that they allow users who aren’t constantly in front of a computer remain connected through their mobile phone by either updating via text, receiving updates by text or if the user has mobile internet capability on their phone a third party application can often be installed to microblog from your phone. I use Twibble on my Nokia E51 and I also have a Twitterfone account (Twitterfone was developed by Irish company Maxroam) which allows me to leave voice messages that are converted into text, ready for Twitter. I also use TwitPic which allows me to send photos from my phone by SMS. So for example I was able to twitter the Liffey Swim last Saturday. Great fun no doubt but imagine you were able to show the world your latest product the minute it arrived? Or twitter pictures of new staff so people would know them? Or a picture of your exhibition stand at a conference so people would know exactly what to look for? (Let’s hear how you are using these applications in your business: leave a comment below.) The name of the game is facilitation and developers are creating all sorts of web and mobile applications for all sorts of platforms to facilitate users and business users can mix and match their social media to create a mix to suit their customer base. While I wonder about the longevity of Twitter’s tenure as a killer app, I find Twitter can be a good source of information, feedback and every now and then, great entertainment and I just hope others feel the same way about our Tweets!