On the biggest day for online purchases in the calendar, new research from the Irish International Business Network (IIBN), reveals that almost a third (29.6%) of Irish businesses now believe e-commerce could help them grow their business, up from 16.2% last year.
The IIBN Inter-trade and export report, which looks at the attitudes of Irish businesses to international and online business, found that exports remain strong for Irish businesses with more than half (53%) of companies planning to export goods and services, with the UK remaining our strongest market. Alongside e-commerce Irish businesses believe that introductions to overseas customers (40%) and international marketing (40%) would help significantly increase international sales.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news as social media remains a major challenge for many businesses in Ireland, with a fifth of Irish businesses (19.4%) expressing that they are not confident in their ability to use social media.
Despite Ireland being the home of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter headquarters in Europe, it appears that business owners are struggling to get to grips with social media as a marketing tool, with over a third (38.7%) of all businesses surveyed believing that their social media activity was ineffective or not knowing if it was achieving their business goals.
Pat Carroll, IIBN board member and online marketer, comments,
‘The IIBN report demonstrates a common challenge for Irish entrepreneurs. They know what they want to achieve from their social media but they don’t know how to go about implementing it and often end up abandoning the idea of social media activity completely.’
The report also found that the majority of businesses (32.3%) spend just six to 10 hours a week on social media activity, while 20% commit more than 30 hours a week to it. Surprisingly, an eighth (12.9%) of respondents didn’t know how long they spend on social media, which suggests a lack of monitoring and structure around it.
The most popular channels used for online networking amongst Irish businesses are:
- LinkedIn – 93.5%
- Twitter – 87.1%
- Facebook – 54.5%
- YouTube – 32.3%
- Company blog – 29%
‘Social media is far too important for businesses to ignore’ said Mr Carroll. It plays a significant role in the lives of today’s consumers and can greatly enhance brand awareness and reputation, if they execute their social strategy effectively. There is no excuse not to integrate social into their marketing activities; there are agencies that specialise in social media, many excellent courses available across the country and online, as well as support from Local Enterprise Boards.’