23rd Oct 2012
Firms urged to use social media better
FIRMS in Northern Ireland need to be 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."
In other public sector news Health Minister, Edwin Poots is this week preparing to meet key European and US health leaders to call on them to use Northern Ireland as a test bed for technological innovation.
Mr Poots is scheduled to address delegates from both sides of the Atlantic at the EU/US eHealth Marketplace event in Boston.
He is also due to co-host a lunch for delegates at the Massachusetts State House with Senate President Therese Murray.
The minister will then attend the Partners Connected Health Symposium in Boston alongside experts in health technology.
The four-day visit is part of the minister's drive to reform services, with an emphasis on care closer to home and away from a hospital setting.
The minister said the arrangement would be mutually beneficial as local patients would gain from the latest technologies.
Mr Poots said he was keen to demonstrate to leaders in health innovations how Northern Ireland is ideally placed to assist in development of new products.
"Northern Ireland offers a unique model," he said.
"It is a single integrated health and social care system. Therefore, it provides an ideal test-bed for any company to develop innovative initiatives and products."
Technology is key to the changes proposed in the minister's Transforming Your Care blueprint.
Mr Poots said: "Innovation in health care is vital to improving patient care and is at the centre of Transforming Your Care.
"This visit offers us an excellent opportunity to bring closer the day when everyone who needs to access high-tech care in their homes can do so."
Representatives of Invest NI, technology firms and Queen's and University of Ulster are also due to attend the eHealth Marketplace event.