This is a guest post by Robert Purcell. Robert is a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group which seeks to support businesses in the development of strategies for engaging with social media. As Marketing Manager for Post Consult International Ltd. (PCI), Robert’s main focus is developing the marketing and product strategy for the company’s Security Solutions offered under the corporate brand, Post.Trust. Post.Trust is a national-level Certificate Authority, wholly owned by An Post, providing security solutions that enable organisations to communicate with one another more securely and confidently in a trusted environment. You can find him on LinkedIn or @robgerard on Twitter.
Engage! Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
Brian Solis (Author), Ashton Kutcher (Foreword)
The second edition of Engage! written by social media thought leader Brian Solis really is a fascinating read. I haven’t read the first edition, but this instalment focuses more on enabling you to design a new media engagement program specific to your business and your customers. It empowers you to develop metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your activities and translate that data into bottom-line benefits. As anyone who has ever tried to champion a social media program within their organisation knows; the first question you are asked is, What’s the ROI of social media? This book will help you answer that question.
A word of warning though – Engage! is not a book you can pick up and read from cover to cover. Sections of the book are quite dense and academic – but then isn’t that what you would expect a Complete Guide to be? The book doesn’t define its target audience but whether you are new to social media or experienced in social media marketing, this book has plenty of substance and will serve as a source of reference in your social media activities. As Solis says, this is an opportunity to “hit ctrl-alt-del and restart with a fresh perspective”.
The book starts by defining social media and introducing the arsenal of social media tools available for creating touchpoints across the Social Web. It explores building a framework to amplify the visibility of your social objects, extending the reach of your online presence to new audiences, and defining the end game, ultimately guiding people to action through participating, listening and engagement.
Solis reminds us that understanding the rules of engagement is critical in this new world of socialised media. It’s about training and putting the necessary policies and guidelines in place to ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn book. The latter part of the book looks at the realignment and restructuring the organisation as part of this socialisation process. Finally, it focuses on the management of this social media activity; how to track, measure and translate that social data into tangible value for the business.
Solis discusses the concept of unmarketing as one of the most effective forms of marketing in this new genre of socialised media and really unmarketing underpins the ‘How’ organisations should use Social Media. Marketing is no longer about broadcasting brand messages – it’s about embodying the characteristics of your brand, being an active participant in the conversation, contributing value to earn relevance, build influence and create brand advocacy and loyalty toward a desired outcome.
At times, reading the book was a bit of a slog and I found myself going back over passages each time I picked it up because there was a lot to absorb. But on the whole, I found it uplifting and insightful, reaffirming my understanding of the real power of Social Media – so stick with it. Solis’s voice comes through the words on the page, inspiring the reader to embrace the social web, to champion new media engagement and become the expert to drive change within the organisation. The book is ‘peppered’ with frameworks, methodologies and tools to assist you in your journey towards building a two-way information bridge between the organisation and the online communities in those networks you choose to participate.
As Solis says, “The future of business is social”. Social Media cannot be confined to one person or department. The entire business must socialise. Organisations must embrace and ride the social wave or risk being engulfed by it.
“The greatest advantages of social media reside in its ability for worthy individuals and companies to shape perception, steer activity, incite action, and adapt to the communities that establish the market. Engage or die.”
While I was on leave* the IIA Online Marketing Working Group produced a series of guides to Online Marketing and they are well worth a look for the both the new business owner and the seasoned marketer. The guides are easy to read and to the point and I, for one, have a little refresher course planned.
Here’s a listing of what’s on offer from the Online Marketing Working Group:
- Content is Still King
This article provides you with the fundamental guidelines for writing for the web, enabling you to take control of your company’s online content and communicate your brand more effectively.
- Digital Marketing Strategy & Planning
A framework to help align and structure your digital marketing strategy and planning.
- Tips for eNewsletter Content
A guide to creating and writing great email newsletters.
- Tips for Video Content
How to create compelling & successful videos as part of your digital marketing strategy.
- Web Content Inverted Pyramid
Guidelines for writing for the web.
Check them out now in the Resources section of the IIA website. These resources are member only: if you would like to join and get immediate access to these resources please do!
If you find however that you are the type of learner who needs instruction an upcoming IIA event might be just the ticket for you. On 3 December the IIA in association with Irish Times Training are running Twitter and Facebook for Business. This day long seminar will help you learn how to build the visibility, reputation and profits of your business online using Facebook and Twitter. This seminar takes an in-depth look at case studies of Irish and global businesses using Facebook and Twitter effectively to enhance customer service, attract more business and boost bottom line profits. This seminar is being delivered by Krishna De who regularly shares Facebook tips on her blog.
*By the way I am full time again since Monday so don’t be a stranger!
Internet Growth Acceleration Programme (iGAP) to help Internet Related Companies Win New Business Opportunities
Ireland’s growing number of internet related companies are set to receive a major boost to their growth development prospects with the launch today (Tuesday 29 September 2009) of the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme (iGAP). Developed by Enterprise Ireland in association with the Internet Growth Alliance (a business led initiative supporting the international growth of Irish e-businesses) this new Programme for high potential Internet companies will provide them with the tools and skills to develop and execute aggressive international growth plans and scale their business. Recruitment for the Programme, which starts in November, is now underway.
The focus of the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme is on Internet related companies with global growth potential and the ability to meet critical growth milestones. The Programme design is specifically geared to add significant strategic and business value to companies in both B2B and B2C markets with practical learning modules, support from implementation coaches, access to business advisors and industry networking. Industry experts and experienced Internet entrepreneurs will cover topics including monetizing the business, revenue models, marketing, customer acquisition and retention and preparation for funding – all key elements of a business strategy for growing Internet companies.
Speaking at the launch, Jennifer Condon, Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s Software Division, said:
“Enterprise Ireland’s new Software Strategy, as part of the Government’s Smart Economy blueprint, sets out to develop and grow a thriving set of high-value, innovative, research-intensive Irish Software companies. The aim of the software strategy is to position Ireland’s software industry to maximise its opportunities in the “New Software Economy”. This New Software Economy is driven by the growth of the Internet and changes in the software value chain. It is characterised by user demand for greater flexibility, global delivery and cost effective solutions.
“The Internet is providing opportunities for new business models as seen in Internet based start-ups and new delivery channels such as Software as a Service. These new business models favour flexible, innovative SMEs by giving them access to international markets via the Internet. The Internet Growth Acceleration Programme aims to position Irish Internet related companies to maximise their potential in this new market environment and is specifically designed to address the needs of innovative companies specifically those developing Web 2.0 type applications.”
Speaking on behalf of the Internet Growth Alliance* Colm Lyon, CEO of Realex Payments and founder of the Internet Growth Alliance said:
“The development of the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme is a great example of industry wide collaboration at work. All the stakeholders in the Irish Internet Industry believe in the opportunity and the global potential the internet has to offer Irish businesses. With all the relevant industry associations and some key business advisors working together we see the emergence of a very important building block – the iGAP. This programme will give Irish internet entrepreneurs access to worldwide and local expertise. It is comprehensive, focused and intensive in its construction. In addition it will offer Irish Internet Entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet and get to know many other people in the same industry – both experienced and emerging.
“The business advisors of the Internet Growth Alliance are delighted with the development and look forward to working with both Enterprise Ireland and the participating businesses as we identify and support Irish Internet businesses that will scale globally.”
This programme is a core part of Enterprise Ireland’s recently launched four-year strategy for the Irish software industry, which aims to drive the sector’s revenues to over €2.5bn by 2013 by capitalising on changes in the global software market. Outlining the importance of the Internet sector in this strategy, Jennifer Condon went on to say: “Internet based businesses will form an increasingly significant part of Ireland’s Software sector. Enterprise Ireland is working closely with our industry partners, in particular the Internet Growth Alliance, the Irish Software Association and the Irish Internet Association, to bring about sustainable change and growth in the sector. This programme is one of a number of initiatives to support these Internet companies in their drive to develop their businesses and grow globally.”
More about the Internet Growth Alliance
*The Internet Growth Alliance (www.alliance.ie) was established by a consortium of Irish entrepreneurs in conjunction with the Irish Internet Association, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Software Association, the Institute of International and European Affairs, Web2 Ireland and the Digital Hub. The mission of the Alliance is to accelerate the development of Irish Internet businesses and the Internet Growth Acceleration Programme is at the core of its strategy.
The IIA International Strategy Working Group had their inaugural meeting last month and they were straight out of the starting blocks!
Many Irish organisations are already generating significant revenues from International markets, but could we help you improve on this and how are you performing compared to the market?
The IIA International Strategy Working Group will be holding a seminar in the Autumn to help organisations better tap into international revenues using the Internet. In advance of this seminar, called “Growing international revenues using the Internet”, we are looking to identify how we can best meet your areas of interest. It would be great if you could complete our short survey.
Your responses are private and anonymised and will only be used by the IIA and the working group for this purpose.
Check back later in the summer for more details of this event. The Working Group will also post here regularly to keep you updated.
Wednedsay 22nd April, Dublin – The Irish Internet Association (IIA) launched "Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business" at a breakfast briefing in Dublin on April 22nd 2009.
This essential guide for Irish businesses is available to download from the Resources section of the IIA website from April 22nd 2009.
It includes sections
- explaining the fundamentals of blogging;
- investigating why businesses are adding blogging to their communications and marketing strategies;
- analysing the results from a survey of Irish business bloggers about their motivations and objectives and how they measure those objectives;
- with key advice on managing blogging resources, comments and content;
- and numerous links to further information and recommended reading for those who wish to take it further.
As part of the breakfast briefing, Brendan Hughes, eCommerce manager with FBD.ie and chair of the working group spoke about the need for businesses to start getting involved in social media, "We called this guide "Join the Conversation" because many companies may not even be aware that their customers are already talking about them online. Once upon a time your customers’ criticisms may not have spread beyond family and friends, but with the arrival of social media, the audience and reach has multiplied. These online conversations, good and bad, are happening. We’re encouraging businesses to join in so they can get involved in the conversations about themselves."
The Breakfast briefing at which the document was launched included experiences from the coalface of blogging with presentations from Michelle Daly, Communications Manager, Paddy Power Trader and Aedan Ryan, Director of Puddleducks.ie. Attendees included representatives from the banking sectors, to communications and public relations to start-ups to marketing companies and cultural and educational organisations.
Aedan Ryan, Director of Puddleducks.ie, an Irish company selling outdoor wear for kids of all ages, has been blogging for about a year now and explains their motivations for blogging, "Our business blog helps us to build and engage with our PuddleDucks customers. Not only do we tell our story of running the business but we also include our customers in the blog by giving them the opportunity to tell their own stories of their children out and about in their PuddleDucks gear."
Michelle Daly of Paddy Power Trader shared the experience of their team of bloggers, "Paddypowertrader.com was created in order to bring Financial Spread Betting to the masses in an accessible way. Trader education is also a top priority for us so that everyone can now trade on a level playing field on the global stock markets.
"Paddypowertrader.com blogs and tutorials also stand out as a way in which we go that extra mile for our clients. With interest from more and more retail investors, we offer unparalleled information and educational tools for prospective clients: for example, our daily market watch blog by real full time traders. This is one blog where you can follow the ups and downs of trading on a daily basis. "
This guide is the first in a series about business use of social media prepared by the IIA Social Media Working Group. This group comprises business people from a range of sectors who have seen the benefits their businesses have gained from social media and wish to share their experience and expertise. The guide was created collaboratively by the group using Wiki web applications. The group was also assisted by the Irish blogging and business communities through comments on the Wiki, blog comments, tweets and participation in a workshop last December.
"Join the Conversation: The Guide to Business Blogging" will be available to download for free for two weeks until Wednesday 6th May. From then on it will be available only to members of the Irish Internet Association.
One thing that many of the delegates at our previous congresses asked about was the chance to get some one-on-one advice about website strategy. As the IIA is a member-driven organisation we take these suggestions seriously and so this year we developed a brand spanking new feature of Congress 2008. This year we bring you Web Strategy Clinics! We have organised 5 different clinics with experts from among our membership. These clinics will allow you to sit down for half an hour and pick their brains on your choice of the following:
You need to register for the clinic of your choice* and give some details about your current situation so that you and the expert can kick off and waste no time on formalities. If you leave a comment below saying “hellohowareyou!” you can consider that done and get right into the meat of it!
* You can attend as many as you like – you’ll just have to register for each seperately. Enjoy!