SMXQ: Darragh Doyle
Darragh Doyle is the communications manager of boards.ie. He is a self-confessed internet enthusiast with extensive experience in online community building. He has a blog called This Is What I Do and you can find him on Twitter at @darraghdoyle.
I have given Darragh the briefest of introductions because as you can see he has an awful lot to say for himself.
1. Could you tell us about your background (where you're from, what you've done)?
I'm from a Kilkenny village called Graiguenamanagh which, in many ways more than I sometimes care to admit, has defined who I am and how I react to things. I've lived in a variety of places and haven't lost my fascination with people and how they interact with each other or the world around them.
I've had a varied career path - stepping in and out of business, charities, retail and even acting. I've always followed a "talking to people" route in my professional life and this has transferred online quite easily. Where I now work with boards.ie, I am able to blog, tweet, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and more. Basically I use the Internet to tell people about things I think they'd like to know.
2. What was your route into social media?
I've got an extensive background working online - starting in 1999 shortly after I left the seminary I was studying at. I started in a customer service role with the launch of the Irish Independent's online initiative Unison and moved into the marketing/communications/PR side from there. I've been employed in Ireland, Spain, London and Manchester by a variety of companies who are looking for new and better ways to communicate with their customers and make them come back. I've been lucky enough too to work with some of the best known brands and PR companies in the country on a variety of their campaigns, and with charities, events and festivals who are looking to attract new audiences.
3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you're interested in or working on right now.
Right now, both as Communications Manager for boards.ie and in blogging/tweeting, I'm involved in and genuinely fascinated by three different things:
- a. Customer service - this has always been a love of mine and I'm keen to help develop it as comprehensively as possible. I have work on a boards.ie initiative called "Talk To Forums" where we allow companies to talk to our members and in turn facilitate communication from our members to companies. This negates the need for complicated phone or contact systems. All you have to do is post and get an answer to your query.
I'm working with some of the biggest companies in Ireland helping develop their social media strategy in this regard and I'm glad to say making friends along the way. The other benefit, because I'm quite vocal in my requirement for high standards in this area, is that I get fantastic customer service when I need it - because they know I would point out when I didn't and what they should do to improve it - not just for me, but for everyone. It's one of my passions - my ultimate goal is to own a small café one day, just to see how I'd do...
- b. Metrics - There's a lovely fluffy side to social media, where we talk about influencers and social media experts, gurus, ninjas, and the like. We have blogger campaigns, PR invitations and the like but how does that translate into cold, hard provable statistics? For example, I know that 2.2 million people visited the boards.ie website in March of 2010, but where did they go, what did they do, and what are they interested in?
When PR companies talk to bloggers and companies and get them to feature a product or service, what benefit is the client actually getting? Are awareness and sales actually going up or is it only in a relatively small community? Services like our recently launched BoardsDeals.ie show exactly how many people have paid for an offer - that is a real benefit to the consumer as well as to the business. I would like to explode all of our statistics in an equally open way. I don't understand the hesitance of many new media outlets to engage on this level - suggests a lot of smoke and mirrors to me. There's a need for transparency right across the spectrum.
- c. Social media for broadcast - slightly related to my metrics point, but I love seeing how people can get their message across - whatever that message may be - creatively online. Should someone factor in all of boards.ie, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr, Pix.ie, Vimeo, iPhone and Android Apps and more into their social media strategy? Are we seeing the end of expansive expensive websites? How important is mobile? So you need a massive budget to be able to do all of this or is it just about playing smarter and thinking more? My hope is that it's a lot more of the latter than the former. It's something I'm working on with a variety of people.
4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?
I'm most active on boards.ie (funnily enough), Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp.ie, Foursquare and Tumblr, but I also have active Pix.ie, YouTube, Vimeo and Picasa accounts. Why? Well it goes back to getting my message out there and communicating with people in whatever way I can.
5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?
Twitter, definitely. It's a brilliant outreach service - I compare it to Grafton Street in Dublin - as much as there are retailers, entertainers and distractions there on the street, there's also people you haven't seen in ages, people you remember you need to talk to and people you'd like to get to know. It's also wonderful to see the positive impact a message of 140 characters can have on someone's day - one of my main motivations in telling as many bad jokes as I do!
6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?
Customer service and reviews - the voice that people now have to show bad service and that companies are now accountable to the people who give them money. Nothing new here of course but there's a lot of great stuff happening. I also think we're both seeing and needing to see more improvements in the legal framework surrounding defamation vs. free speech.
7. What can you do now that you couldn't do before the arrival of social media?
Talk to people I don't know or have people who don't know me talk to me.
8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?
Legal problems regarding what people think they can say online, a sense of entitlement or self importance from those who see themselves as influential over things that are really, basically, none of their business though they feel the need to involve themselves. The ever increasing need for faster service. It's a tough one that goes back to who people are and how they use the Internet.
9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?
Don't do what I did - take it seriously enough to try change who I was because of what people said about what I was doing. It's only the Internet. Do what you think is right, take constructive advice seriously and appreciate it, and read a lot. A LOT. Oh, and obviously, enjoy it...
10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?
I think we will be more educated - both about the news and what is happening abroad, about our rights and responsibilities and how we communicate with each other. That's my hope anyways - and something I'm working towards. There's a lot of people out there doing the same.