The diversion of valuable resources into pursuing social media opportunities is a risk for smaller businesses here, according to Professor Mark Durkin of Ulster’s Business School.
Addressing an Agenda NI audience at today’s Digital Media Seminar in Belfast’s Grand Opera House, Professor Durkin said, “Research shows that while over three in four companies are attempting to engage in social networking with customers, over half of customers have no desire to engage with brands in this way.”
He continued, “At present, social media and on-line networking is seen by customers to revolve around interactions with friends and family, not brands. Where customers do wish to engage with brands through such networks they want to see added value and tangible benefits for doing so.
"Firms have not realised this yet, and the reason for this blind spot is simply that many companies have been rushing headlong into the social media space without any real thought, expertise or marketing orientation.
"The digital marketing arena brings marketing back to first principles - stay close to your customers and respond to their needs appropriately. Firms that ignore this and pursue a company-oriented social media agenda will be punished in the market.”
Professor Durkin, who has launched a new course focused on digital marketing and social media this month on Ulster’s BSc (Hons) Marketing programme, will review research on this topic at his presentation today.
Of the new programme Professor Durkin commented, “It’s critical that graduates today are as comfortable managing marketing in the digital space as they are in more established and traditional areas – hopefully through the recruitment of such graduates firms here can compensate for existing knowledge gaps in the digital arena.”
He is also leading a new think-tank of Irish academics from Ulster, Trinity College, University of Limerick and University of Galway who collectively are working to improve understanding about the adoption and effective utilisation of social media in Irish businesses.