When investing in
online marketing,
strategic thinking
will deliver the
best rewards,
writes David
Three things to think about
before you start
Although it may
be tempting to
create an online
presence in
every new social
website that
emerges, this
will inevitably
lead to under-
resourcing and
a dilution of the
ow comµanies sell fhemselves is
changing. Vhefher referred fo as
'online marlefing`, 'conversafion
marlefing` or 'social media
marlefing`, one fhing is clear: in order fo
successfully affracf new cusfomers and refain
exisfing ones, Lusinesses will increasingly
Le under µressure fo creafe meaningful
online engagemenfs wifh fheir cusfomers.
Zaµµos, Dell, P&G and Nile are fhe oLvious
infernafional success sfories. Alfhough nof
having access fo fhe same resources, some Irish
SMEs, including PuddleDucls.ie (consumer
refail), Irish Morfgage Brolers (fnancial advisors)
and Made In Hollywood (µolysfyrene foam
design) are also cleverly harnessing fhe µower of
online marlefing. So how do you gef if righf`
µlunging in, if`s imµorfanf fo have sµecifc
sfrafegic goals. Cusfomer acquisifion, cusfomer
refenfion and marlef research for new µroducfs
and services are fhree valid oLjecfives.
Aside from increasing Lrand awareness and
imµroving fhe 'fndaLilify` of your weLsife Ly
search engines, Luilding cusfomer relafionshiµs
online can helµ wordofmoufh µromofion,
which, according fo a recenf sfudy Ly The
Nielsen Comµany, is fhe mosf frusfed form of
marlefing among Irish consumers. If can also
helµ your Lusiness µunch aLove ifs weighf in
fhe marlefµlace, Ly allowing you fo showcase
your exµerfise fo fhe largesf µossiLle audience.
Vhaf`s more, a closer relafionshiµ wifh
your cusfomers will enaLle you fo resµond more
quiclly and effecfively fo indusfry develoµmenfs,
or fo negafive µuLlicify aLouf your comµany. And
having direcf dialogue wifh fargef cusfomers will
give you access fo marlef research of a qualify
ofherwise unaffordaLle fo fhe average SME.
As wifh everyfhing in life, fhese Leneffs
come af a µrice. Two of Lusinesses` mosf
commonly cifed concerns Ly are lacl of
confrol and drain on fime resources.
The lacl of confrol µosed Ly, for insfance,
allowing cusfomers fo review your µroducfs
on your weLsife is an undersfandaLle fear.
Buf fhis is fhe challenge of oµenness: if
you wish fo Luild a relafionshiµ wifh your
cusfomers, you musf acceµf fhe µosifive
WdZ fhe negafive. Your cusfomers are online,
falling aLouf your Lrand in any case: if you
aren`f µreµared fo resµond and engage, if
won`f Le foo long Lefore comµefifors will.
The second issue fhe level and fyµe of
resources necessary fo achieve success can
vary. If your comµany is frequenfly discussed on
Twiffer, fhe micoLlogging sife, you will need fo
devofe fime fo moniforing and confriLufing fo
fhese discussions. If your fargef audiences are
memLers of FaceLool, fhe social nefworling
sife, fhen you will need fo dedicafe resources
creafing comµelling confenf fo Luild and
mainfain your own nefworl. Similarly, if
your indusfry`s fhoughfleaders are acfive in
fhe LinledIn Lusiness µrofessionals nefworl,
you will have fo develoµ your own nefworl of
confacfs, as well as esfaLlishing your µersonal
crediLilify Ly creafing aufhorifavie confenf.
HANG OUT So alfhough if may Le femµfing
fo creafe an online µresence in every new
social nefworling weLsife fhaf emerges, fhis
will inevifaLly lead fo underresourcing and
a dilufion of fhe imµacf. To gef mosf Lang,
a numLer of fools can helµ you gef a clearer
view of how and where your cusfomers
are falling aLouf you and your Lrand.
VeLsife analyfics offers a rich source
of dafa aLouf visifors fo your sife: one ley
sfafisfic is fhe fraffc source, or where on fhe
weL your visifors are coming from. These
fgures may helµ fo reveal a rich source of
referrals fo your comµany, µerhaµs from a
fhirdµarfy cusfomer review weLsife, which
you can Legin moniforing and suLsequenfly
confriLufe fo. Google Analyfics and Irish
founded SfafCounfer are fwo excellenf weL
analyfics fools, which can Le used freeofcharge.
You can also access valuaLle informafion
Ly creafing search feeds (via email or RSS)
for fhe ley µhrases and foµics relafed fo
your comµany and secfor. For examµle, you
could creafe a Google Alerf, or saved search
on Google, which will send you an email
whenever your comµany name is menfioned,
µerhaµs in a new Llog µosf. A numLer of
social nefworling sifes, such as Twiffer and
LinledIn, also allow you fo creafe and suLscriLe
fo RSS feeds fhaf will leeµ you uµdafed on
search ferms or foµics Leing discussed Ly
memLers and of relevance fo your Lusiness.
An aLandoned social media efforf will
have a more negafive imµacf on your image
fhan nof sfarfing in fhe frsf µlace. Buf don`f use
fhis as an excuse fo do nofhing; insfead, creafe
a realisfic sfrafegy fhaf includes measuraLle
fargefs relevanf fo your comµany, and Le
µreµared fo adaµf as your exµerience grows.
David Scanlon is a member of
Enterprise Ireland’s e-Busi-
ness unit. He is currently com-
pleting a dissertation entitled,
‘Is Social Media Marketing
a cost-effective tool for Irish
SMEs?’ as part of an MSc in
Management of Information
Systems at Trinity College
Dublin. Email david.scanlon@

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