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Irish firms unhappy with social media

Wednesday, May 28 15:31:36

Over half (55pc) of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland describe their social media performance as 'average' or 'poor' and just 2pc rate it as better than expected.

That's according to new research carried out among Irish SMEs by Mindshare on behalf of Bord Gais Energy in advance of the Bord Gais Energy Social Media Awards which take place on Thursday 5th June.

The survey also reveals that three quarters (75pc) of Irish SMEs don't measure their social media performance and 17pc don't even have a website.

The survey also makes for interesting reading for employers and for staff and job seekers as 44pc of SME owners and managers confirm that they review a person's social media activity before recruiting staff and almost one in four (23pc) admit to firing or warning staff due to their online behaviour.

A quarter of business owners and managers check social media over breakfast, while 1pc wake up during the night to check social media.

However, some 43pc have now developed a social media policy document to help manage their social media activity and offer guidelines to staff with 41pc of businesses surveyed stating that they encourage their staff members to use social media as part of their roles.

According to Damien Mulley, founder of the Bord Gais Energy Social Media Awards, "While it's the still the wild, wild west for some on social media, this survey shows that the marshals have arrived in town to bring order. 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."

"Having said that, employers need to be careful too and realise that employment law is harsh on employers, so 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."

More positively, Irish SMEs are choosing to prioritise online advertising (17pc of their advertising budgets) over traditional print advertising (12pc of advertising budgets) and 37pc say they will increase their social media investment in the next 12 months.

In addition, customer engagement is the most important use of social media for SMEs in Ireland and some 45pc of SME's are managing their social media activity themselves, rather than outsourcing.

Commenting on the survey findings, Eoin O Suilleabhain, Digital and Social Media Manager with Bord Gais Energy said, "It is encouraging to see that so many small-medium businesses in Ireland are now managing their social media in-house and that they are using social media as a customer engagement channel. And 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."

According to the survey, the biggest challenges facing SMEs in Ireland are market performance (46pc and consumer confidence (26pc).