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Online Spend €2.96 billion

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

According to research published by Visa Europe it is estimated that the Irish spent €2.96 billion online in 2010.

This is an increase of 39% on the 2009 figures. The research suggests that this increase shows that people believe online shopping offers good value and they are also more confident shopping online.
The average Irish shopper spent €1,550 online last year, according to the research. While flights, holidays, entertainment tickets and books continue to be the most popular items purchased online, clothing and footwear are becoming more popular with Irish consumers.
Consumers are also more inclined to purchase items online that they cannot find in Irish stores. Men spent more online on average (€1,650) compared to women (€1,470).
There has been a notable increase in people's confidence in online shopping over the past twelve months, with 96% of respondents indicating that they are confident that the online retailer they are purchasing from is reputable and 86% aware of what security features to check for on websites.
In addition, there was an improvement in awareness of online consumer rights, with 65% indicating that they knew what they are entitled to.

Facebook Admin?

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Who Should You Trust To Manage Your Facebook Page?

Facebook may have established the title of "Page Admin" to represent the person in charge of managing your Facebook page, but that doesn't mean it's a job for just anyone.

Before you figure out who will manage (and maximise) the social media presence for your brand, you should quit looking at your open position as one that requires, “little or no experience.”

Inspiring action on Facebook not only takes a healthy dose of determination, but it also takes creativity. Before putting someone in the hot seat, make sure they have the ability to get a firm grip on your brand, and the time and resources to follow through with your efforts.

Seriously, please don’t just leave it up to the intern who has the most Facebook friends. Plan your Facebook marketing efforts with the same type of thought and effort you put into all your marketing.

Design promotions, implement strong branded pages and tabs, and above all make sure your staff are empowered (and educated) so they can confidently interact with your customers in your brand voice and with adequate product knowledge.

Facebook Page Pic Size

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

See the Facebook page.

Did you realize your Facebook Fan Page profile picture can be as big as this
- 540 pixels X 180 pixels?

Very generous of Facebook to give us all this valuable space on their site – the second most popular site on the globe! (Alexa)

A picture is worth a thousand words! And all this space is free!

How to Make the Best Use of this Free Space

1. Do this first – upload your full-size profile picture – 540 pixels high and 180 pixels wide. Grab your designer or Photoshop friend to help getting the picture right.

2. Keep your branding consistent. On your Fan Page, Facebook allows you to promote your products or services – so go for it!

3. Include any offers or promotions. This is your chance to win new customers.

For more information see the Facebook Fan Guidelines

How to Make your Online Business look better

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

The Ultimate 20 Tips for Your Website

Usability is ridiculously important to your website. It doesn’t matter how cool your website looks or how amazing your content is if visitors can’t quickly, easily, and enjoyably access and use it. Many of them will eventually just give up and look elsewhere.
So how do you make your website as usable as possible? Well, you’re in luck, because this article features 20 usability tips for your website. Technology will always change, thus changing the usability tips. So make sure you share your own tips and tricks with the rest of us.

1. Structure your website design around update frequency

If you’ll post new content less often, have a more static and feature-focused design. If you’ll post more often, go for a blog-style design.

2. Put the logo in the top-left, menu to the right or below

The reason for these? Accepted conventions – it’s what most web users expect
Place your logo in the top-left, and put the menu either to the right of or below it – and make sure the logo is clickable and takes the visitor back to your home page. The reason for these? Accepted conventions – it’s what most web users expect, so there’s no need to get creative deciding where to place the steering wheel in your car design, so to speak.

3. Have the search in the upper left or right

Include the search bar in the upper left or right (if applicable of course ie. you have enough content to warrant search). Also, include the word “Search” in-form so people know what that type-able bar is for.

4. Make your contact info or form easy to find

Either have the contact info or form as separate page with a dedicated link in the menu or footer, or include the contact info in the sidebar or footer.

5. Make help page(s) easy to find

Have your help page(s) – things like FAQ, technical support, documentation – easy to find, either in the menu or most likely in the footer.

6. Have as few menu items as possible

The more choices your new visitors have, the greater the indecision-paralysis they’ll have (ie. the more likely they won’t click on any navigation menu items and instead will bounce out.)

7. Include state-changes in links and buttons

You increase the likeliness of your visitors clicking on desired links and buttons – as well as making them feel less lost – when you reinforce the click-ability and actionable-ness of things. Do that by including state-changes in links and buttons ie. change the appearances when hovering and clicking.

8. Highlight the active form field

When a visitor clicks inside of a form field, highlight it to reinforce that when the visitor starts typing, that’s where text will be inputed or an action will result.

9. Make link colors as noticeable as possible

Make link colors stand out so that it’s obvious that that piece of text is clickable. This is especially important and usable for those with accessibility issues (ie. have a hard time with low contrast items.)

10. Keep everything as consistent as possible

Eliminate surprises for your visitors by avoiding inconsistency. Keep the following and anything else as consistent as possible (and that includes full-width pages vs. sidebar-included pages): colors, link colors, structure, interface, and where the elements are.

11. Make forms easy to follow

Group forms in a way that makes them easy to follow. For example, the first and last name on one line, city and state/province on another, and so forth. Also, make it obvious what each one is with titles before each form (Name) and what you need to input included in-form (First Name, Last Name).

12. Add breadcrumbs near the top

Add breadcrumbs near the top of pages for the checkout/signup/etc. processes. This is so visitors know how far along they are and what’s left. Visitors hate guesswork and not knowing how much longer something will take, so eliminate that for them. Here’s a tutorial on adding breadcrumbs to WordPress without a plugin.

13. Be “window shopper”-friendly

Show price/specs/description right away in your grid/list/index pages. Don’t require hovering or clicking and going to another page in order to see them. The faster your visitor can browse and find what they want, the happier they’ll be and the more likely they’ll keep coming back for your stuff. You no doubt know the feeling of getting fed up with an inefficient website design and stopping using it all too well – don’t let your website be one of those.

14. Aways have your name/logo/tagline at the top

Unless you’re Nike or Apple or Sony or a instantly-recognizable-worldwide brand, always have your name/logo and tagline at the top so people know where they are at all times. This is especially important if they directly came to one of your pages/posts from an outside link.

15. Keep animations and form-over-function graphics to a minimum

Don’t use animations or graphics that hinder navigation. Visitors want to access content and information, not figure out how to click on a menu item or watch some animation for the hundredth time.

16. Just say NO to splash pages

1997 called – it wants its splash pages back. But seriously, unless your entire website is essentially a splash page (a single-item promotion site, like for a movie), don’t annoy visitors by surprising them with a full-page ad when they’re expecting your website. Put the promotion content on your home page instead, so it’s still immediately-visible while giving visitors the choice on whether to act on it or not – for example, they’re in a hurry and want to click on a menu item, not be greeted with a full-page ad.

17. Break text up with images when possible

This helps to increase readability. There’s a reason magazines are constantly breaking up text with images and graphs – it makes reading that 6000-word article much easier.

18. Space text out with headlines, segments, and lists

Space text out with headlines, segments with images, and bullet lists to increase scan-ability. This lets your visitors find what they want on a page/post and read that faster, as well as letting them get a quick gist of something before committing to reading it.

19. Have your own domain

Yes, forehead-slapping obvious. But this is essential for two reasons: to confirm to the visitor that not only you are professional and legitimate, and to reassure them they’re on the right website, rather than a subdomain of some free service or something. And since domains are ridiculously affordable at around €25 per year (or cheaper depending on when you’re reading this), there’s absolutely no reason not to have your own domain.

20. Have clear permalinks that are as short as possible

Having clear and short permalinks on your website not only makes it easier for people to share the URLs – since they fit easier in places where they’re pasted – but you reassure them what they’re reading or about to read, since they can clearly see what the page/post will be about, rather than a bunch of gibberish like numbers and symbols.

21% of Irish businesses have e-commerce?

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Irish businesses planning e-commerce fightback?

For failing to develop their sites for e-commerce, Irish businesses are losing online business to the UK and other markets which are targeting Irish consumers. As a result, they are planning an e-commerce fightback.

Irish retailers and other traditional businesses are planning to step up e-commerce activity in 2011 and encourage more Irish consumers to buy from Irish rather than overseas websites.

According to the latest State of the Net quarterly bulletin, price-conscious consumers are turning increasingly to the internet to research and buy products and services.

Higher internet adoption levels, smartphone and social media usage, as well as a range of internet-only deals, will also result in higher e-commerce sales this Christmas.

However, Irish businesses are losing e-commerce business to the UK and other markets, which are targeting Irish consumers.

Many Irish e-commerce sites lag behind international sites in terms of the user experience, the deals on offer and the average transaction value.

From a low e-commerce base
Last week, the .ie Domain Registry (IEDR) revealed that only 66pc of Irish businesses had websites and of these a mere 21pc had e-commerce capability.

To make matters worse, the IEDR revealed there has been only a 3pc net increase since 2000 in the number of firms conducting e-commerce on their websites.

If this is the case, it’s hardly surprising that Irish consumers under served locally online are turning to overseas providers. For being e-commerce laggards, Irish firms have been paying the price.

Read the full story on Silcon Republic

About Social Media

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

What You Need To Know About Social Media

The buzz around social media has been growing to a near crescendo. People are blogging, connecting with friends on
Facebook, posting updates to Twitter, and getting LinkedIn.

Is your business or organisation still on the social media sideline, looking to get into the game but unsure of how to proceed, or are you wondering if the business value is there?

In this guide, Constant Contact outline 35 of the most important things you need to know about social media networks: what they are, why you’d want to use them, and how to use them effectively.

With this information in hand, you’ll have the right ammunition to start building your social media presence.

Go to Marketing Freebies to download the report

Event Checklist

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Have you an important event coming up? An open day or a stand at a trade show?

It’s crucial you plan in order to get the best response and win new customers. Have you thought about signage and brochures? Or about contacting prospects and customers to visit the event.

This comprehensive event checklist should help you plan a great event.

Download the free event checklist

Facebook 1.4m +

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Pictured above Mark Zuckerburg, Creator of Facebook

Download Facebook Pages Guide

Facebook Surpasses 1.4 Million Users In Ireland

Rick Kelley – head of mid market sales for Facebook spoke at a business breakfast recently. He announced that Facebook in Ireland now has over 1.4 million members – a truly an astounding figure. It seems that the Irish just love finding new ways to communicate.

New Opportunity

For businesses, this represents a fantastic opportunity to tap into the Facebook network and promote goods and services to their members.

Inexpensive Advertising

Tapping into the Facebook network is good value for businesses. To start it’s free! Just set up your page and promote it to your own network. After that you can promote it to others and build your fan base.

House of Lords
Rick Kelley spoke at a business breakfast as part of the Bank of Ireland Business Enterprise Week Online

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Pictured above Amanda Dunne of Oakwood Stales with her successful students.

Oakwood Stables ( is a family run yard in Redcross Co. Wicklow. They specialise in training children for showjumping events and pony sales.

Their new online business will help promote their services, accept online bookings for lessons and promote the ponies and horses for sale through the catalog. The whole site is managed by the team at Oakwood stables through the Business Catalyst online business management system. 

See the new site here –

Smiths Go Online

Tom Whelan, Marketing Consultant

Smiths Choose Adobe Business Catalyst 

Smiths DIY & Building Supplies launched their new online business today. This new system is powered by the new online management system developed by Business Catalyst (part of the Adobe software group).
John Smith chose this system because of it's ease of use and the fact that they could manage all their online content in house. Their system comes with CMS, CRM, Analytics, Blogs, Announcements, Secure Zones and more.

 Click here to see the new site

Tom Whelan Marketing Solutions | Marketing Consultant | Business Consultant | Copyright 2011 | | t: 01 236 6000