Belfast Telegraph

Don't be social media twits, top academic urges firms

By Clare Weir

Firms in Northern Ireland need to be much smarter about how they use social media, according to a top academic.

Professor Mark Durkin from the University of Ulster's Business School was speaking at a Business In The Community event at the Waterfront Hall, where he urged companies to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms more intelligently within a marketing oriented approach.

"Many companies in Northern Ireland seem seduced by what new technology could do for their business in an abstract sense, rather than focusing on how value could be added to the customer experience by the application of new technologies through a marketing-oriented approach," he said.

"The key issue is that while Facebook might have a billion users, Lady Gaga (right) has 30 million Twitter followers and this all appears as an easy solution to reaching out and engaging customers, the fact remains that Peter Andre still has more followers on Twitter than the top 20 UK brands combined.

"What does this tell us? Simply that these media are 'social' platforms and their application to 'doing business' effectively is context dependent.

"Social media is not a blanket solution for facilitating customer engagement - those that think it is are practising lazy tactics-driven marketing.

"What is needed is a strategic view of where social media can add value in the context of a customer oriented marketing strategy within companies here."