Sean Davis, Enterprise Ireland’s regional manager for North America, shares insights about how social media can be used to propel your business in the market.
Your corporate online presence has for some time been a cornerstone of the image and brand equities your company wants to communicate. The past five years has seen enormous growth in social media platforms as an enabler of those communications. The hits and misses of viral content demonstrate its potential to help build a presence, particularly in the US.
The effectiveness of social media to help companies to engage with customers was explored at the E3: ‘Entrepreneurship Export Exchange’ conference in Dublin, co-hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the Washington DC consultancy Global Situation Room.
Business confidence is high, presenting opportunities for Irish companies across the US. With 313,000 jobs added in February, the US unemployment rate is at 4.1%, its lowest since 2001. GDP growth for Q4 2017 was also faster than predicted.
A third of E3’s conference speakers hailed from a media background and advised that ‘getting your story right’ is critical for Irish companies in the US, when using social media and presenting pitches to customers and investors. Business leaders should practice telling their story succinctly in a way that makes its impact easy to grasp.
Declan Fearon, Managing Director at Tipperary Crystal and CEO at Freezadome, comments, “Freezadome attended to explore strategies for growing exports to the USA and Mexico. E3 was the most informative conference I’ve attended in years. The knowledgeable mix of speakers in the packed room travelled from the US and UK to share expertise on how to sell and grow your business, and how valuable the Irish connection can be in the market.”
With the US long leading the development of cutting-edge marketing, most innovations are now shaping the digital space. North America is home to the world’s highest penetration of social media users. According to Statista, the global statistics portal, 81% of US Americans had a social media profile in 2017. That range of penetration enables Irish companies to access a huge potential customer base on networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn at potentially low cost.
With social media marketing reaching a point of maturity, it is important to consider the most recent trends in your sector. A quick competitor review of how effectively others are using social media can help you to decide which channels are worth investment.
Smart use of social media at industry events provides one of the best opportunities to engage a highly-targeted audience. Event hashtags are closely followed by attendees many of whom may be potential customers and partners. Staff should include the event’s handle and hashtag to share insights that can help build the right following and engagement.
Philip Martin, CEO of Cora Systems, comments, “The #IrishAdvantage is allowing Cora to power transformation in enterprise organisations such as Teleflex, Allergan, Boston Scientific, Analog, Elanco and Nabriva. Introductions made at Enterprise Ireland events helped Cora to develop strong partnerships in the US. The multinational nature of our client base enables seamless implementations of our enterprise portfolio and project management solution for US customers.”
How Irish companies should negotiate contracts with US clients was another important topic explored at E3. Irish businesses can be daunted when approaching American firms, viewing themselves at a disadvantage, with odds stacked in favour of the larger company.
Irish suppliers should remember that domain expertise can help you to occupy a strong negotiating position. Being the main sectoral expert in the room and owning the subject matter can add value to the potentially broader capabilities of large US companies. The well-known flexibility of Irish companies should also apply to contract negotiations. Irish firms should remember to sell US clients what they need, and not simply what you offer at present.
To learn more about what US locations offer, Irish companies should contact local economic development offices (EDOs), which operate at state level from coast to coast, north to south, and at city and county level. EDOs aren’t just interested in big firms but are open to conversations with SMEs interested in opening a sub-office with even two or three employees. The EDOs’ umbrella organisation SelectUSA has personnel in the US embassy in Dublin.
This article was originally published in the Sunday Independent.
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