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.
This week’s case study has been written by Joy Redmond, CEO of Flexitimers.
Karina Heavey is no ordinary marketer but a marketer who has recently harnessed social media to affect change and create a community of pro-active people not content to sit back and wait for the recession to go away.
In August 2008, Karina formed the 121 Business Network Ireland group on LinkedIn in response to her dissatisfaction with the business networks available at the time, having identified that there wasn’t an appropriate group focussing exclusively for members based in Ireland.
She didn’t actively promote or push the group until a turning point came in January 2009 when she was made redundant from a senior marketing position in SPSS. Although a highly competent and experienced marketing professional with a Masters from UCD, Karina prior to this had no online social media expertise or experience.
She felt there was both an opportunity to learn while giving something back and believed that if she brought people together, opportunities would arise for all. Soon she extended the brand to marketing with the intention of creating a community of people with an interest in marketing. Believing that the marketing associations valued the speakers at their events more than their individual members, Karina wanted her network to value and reward its members.
First on her to-do list was to proactively build the group membership on LinkedIn. To achieve this, she joined 50 marketing groups on LinkedIn, filtered the members by region (Ireland) and keyword (marketing) and arrived at a list of 600 prospects. Again her marketing know-how allowed her to write a compelling personal invitation that resulted in 350 registrations within one week. Karina personally approves every request for membership to ensure the group ethos is not diluted.
Knowing the difficulty in engaging discussion and networking online and the importance and power of personal relationships; the next task was to organise monthly face-to-face meet-ups where members could informally build relationships (not pitch), have fun and feel valued.
Her experience of event management came into play and after researching several city centre hotels, the Mint Bar in the Weston Hotel was chosen as the preferred venue for two reasons -its central location and their promise to provide a space free of charge every first Wednesday of the month. Again her marketing training taught her that consistency was key and so the “First Wednesday” club began. There were 25 attendees the first night in February and numbers have doubled month on month since with the same people returning and bringing more people and spreading the word.
The First Wednesday club is also marketed via her website/blog which provides interviews with marketers, round-ups of the First Wednesday club and competitions to encourage more interaction both online and offline. One interesting application merging both online and offline activity is the video reel of corporate logos representing the attendees of the First Wednesday Club.
Karina then created a Facebook page to extend the group’s reach where visitors are met with a Welcome video and members receive a welcome email that sets the rules, expectations and protocol for the group. There is a space entitled ‘Opportunities Exchange’ where members can promote/trade opportunities, jobs and business deals with the effect of minimising spam on the discussion board.
Karina is not content to limit the network to Dublin and has set up regional managers in Cork and in Limerick. The 121 Cork Network is going to launch that regions ‘First Wednesday Club’ next month and she’s seeing her memberships growing in Sligo, Kildare and Mayo.
A sense of fun and achievement, continuously improving and progressing an idea through its ongoing successful destinations while facilitating important social and business communications is what Karina perceives to be the key benefit of all this social media activity.
Karina herself has been rewarded for her efforts and has proactively raised her profile with an RTE interview live from bizcamp, a podcast interview on The Persuaders and a feature in The Sunday Tribune. What’s more, she has created her own opportunity by being recently hired as Digital Campaign Manager with IIA Member Company TradeDoubler, no easy feat for a marketer with little or no digital expertise less than six months ago and in an extremely difficult economy.
Karina has become a role model and inspiration to many and like her 121Marketing Network, proves that there are still opportunities out there and with positive drive and enthusiasm success still awaits those who create their own luck.
The IIA Social Media Working Group not content with the imminent launch of Join the Conversation: IIA Guide to Business Blogging in Ireland next week are forging ahead with their work on the next set of guides. Expect to see guides on social networking, podcasts and RSS in the very near future.
Last Thursday some members of the group and other interested parties came together in The Digital Hub to workshop the draft guide to podcasting for business. You can listen to the whole workshop on a set of three podcasts available from the IIA. You can grab them from our website or ITunes. (N.B. The latter link will attempt to open your iTunes)
A big thank you to Krishna and her team in Biz Growth Media for recording and editing the sound files from the workshop.
Karlin Lillington, the Irish Times technology journalist, who has recently started podcasting herself, came along and has a written a great summary of the thoughts that were shared that evening.
If you would like to read the draft of the Guide to Podcasting for Business you can check it out on our wiki. We welcome any comments or questions that you might have on the wiki itself.
And just for Friday larks you can also hear me be a total eejit in the podcast. Brian Greene, who gives some excellent guidance and tips, asks something along the lines of, “Can I make a point about the importance of silence?” and I say “Yes please do.” Nice one, Roseanne!
At the start of 2009 we undertook a survey among Irish businesses that already have blogs. We asked them a number of questions to try and understand the objectives of their blogging activities, what results they were seeing and how much time and effort they put into managing their blogs.
We will be discussing the results in detail at the Business Blogging breakfast briefing on April 22nd, but in the meantime here are the high-level survey results:
While I’m not suggesting that you spend $695.00 on the report Podcasting: Into the Mainstream from eMarketer. (Do by all means if you like 🙂 ) eMarketer does share some interesting statistics about the growth in popularity of the podcast among US internet users.
The US podcast audience is ballooning, and eMarketer projects that growth will continue at least through 2013. By then, there will be 37.6 million people who download podcasts monthly, more than double the 2008 figure of 17.4 million.
As a percentage of Internet users, podcast downloaders are expected to grow from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2013.
Much of the time where US internet use goes, Irish internet use follows. (Though not always!) For businesses podcasting can be a very effective way to show your expertise in your area; share tips with your customers about your products and services; and to develop customer loyalty among many other benefits. The IIA Social Media Working Group are going to workshop the draft of their Guide to Business Podcasting. This is an opportunity to participate in the creation of this guide and hopefully learn something new in the process. Both newbies and old hands are welcome but please register.
If you would like to get an idea of how the workshop will shape up, appropriately enough you can listen to the podcast of the workshop of the draft Guide to Business Blogging created by Krishna De last December. Krishna will also be facilitating this workshop so expect plenty of nuggets!
#Twask is a great initiative by a Birmingham University final year student in jourmalism, Kasper Sorenson. While he started it as a way to teach his fellow students about how to use Twitter it will hopefully allow Twitter newbies to ask and Twitter oldies to answer questions about the best ways to use Twitter. Adding a short word or acronym preceded by the hashtag (#) to a Twitter message allows it to be grouped with all the other twitter messages on that subject. It makes it very easy to talk about a particular event (Search for #ddire for example which is the hash tag for Dragon’s Den Ireland to read the conversations about it on Twitter.)
#twask kicks off at 2pm today and it’s a great opportunity to get some free lessons in how to tweet. And maybe how not to!
Are there better ways for non-twitterati to pick up this info? Please let me know via the comments below. Thanks!
If you blog for your business and if you have ten minutes complete this survey about your experiences using blogs for business it would be of great value to the working group.
You will be asked at the end of the survey if you would like to include your company’s experience of blogging in the whitepaper as a case study. If you indicate that you do, rest assured you will be contacted to discuss your inclusion further.
If you would like to hear a discussion on the first draft of the whitepaper a 3 part podcast is available. Feedback at this workshop prompted the working group to seek further input from the business bloggers of Ireland. You can access the first draft of the whitepaper online as well.
Please contact Roseanne Smith, Membership, Marketing and Communications Manager if you would like more information about this or any of the IIA Working Groups.
At the beginning of December the IIA Social Media Working Group invited interested parties to join them in person or remotely in order to workshop their draft guide to business blogging. A very interesting session ensued with plenty of input from those in the room which you can hear on this three part podcast.
You can also subscribe in iTunes to the IIA podcast and receive any future podcasts from us.
We also had input from others via Twitter which caused me no end of half-brained responses. You can actually hear me saying “Ye wha?” as I try to respond to a tweet and a real live person at the same time. Nice. If we ever do this kind of workshop again I have a different plan for the live tweeting.
Much thanks for Brendan Hughes for chairing this event, Krishna De for facilitating the session and editing the podcast and to all those who participated. Input is still welcomed on the draft guide so please feel free to add your comments.
The IIA Social Media Working Group are reworking the draft of their recently shared Guide to Business Blogging after the recent workshop (3 part podcast now available and well worth a listen). One area that we felt needed some attention was the case studies and we this in mind we are inviting all to participate by completing the following questionnaire with a view to be included as a case study. This survey takes about ten minutes to complete and the working group would really appreciate your input.
We have a new video widget on the IIA homepage to which we invite members to submit YouTube videos. I created this video just before Christmas in order to show off the space. Happily it has been replaced since! I’d love to update this on a regular basis so please do email your YouTube URLs to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to showcase yours.
FYI nothing fancy involved in creating the above video either: some stock photographs from IStockphoto.com, some podsafe music from PodShow.com all mushed together in Windows Movie Maker which comes with Windows Vista. See comments on previous post to read more about what other people use for quick and dirty videos or please add your own comments about software and hardware you use for video creation.