Cyprus businesses lacking digital skills

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News that Cyprus ranks fourth amongst EU member states for the number of enterprises (73%) using social media, companies still need to breach the digital divide.

Despite the encouraging data presented in a Eurostat report, businesses in Cyprus are far from making full use of growth potentials offered by social media or digital marketing, say experts.

Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB) is encouraged by statistics portraying local businesses adopting digital marketing tools such as social media, but fear they are misusing social media due to the lack of know-how.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, acting director of OEB’s Department of Business Development and Economic Studies, Antonis Frangoudes said that other surveys have shown that Cypriots are lagging in digital skills.

Frangoudes recalled that Cyprus ranked 21st in the latest Digital Economy and Society Index for 2018, while in human capital, Cyprus’ performance is below the EU average, but progress is being made.

According to the same index, 79% of the Cypriot population used the internet regularly, but only 50% possessed at least basic digital skills.

“That is why we are urging companies to upskill and retrain their staff to cope with the new digital era. We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution which will see economies and societies go digital,” said Frangoudes.

“Cyprus companies should take initiatives and move ahead with digitalising their business if they want to survive, just launching a Facebook page won’t cut it,” he added.

A Social Media Manager and trainer also said that “launching social media accounts and posting one or two ads for your business is not nearly enough to get your message out there in the digital world”.

George Petrakides, CEO and trainer at the Social Space Academy, said the digital transformation of a company should touch on all aspects of its activity.

“Social Media is a very effective tool to boost your online presence and digital marketing, however, most companies lack the knowhow to make the best of this tool,” said Petrakides.

He noted that companies open a page on Facebook, but then do not know how to get the most out of it and end up paying for social media applications to boost their ‘ads’ in vain.

He explained that boosting an ad through an application will not help the company achieve much, as there is no proper targeting.

“No one knows the company’s target group better than the people within the company itself”.

He argued that there are many traps that untrained personnel could fall for, “so the best thing is for companies to train their staff or hire trained social media managers”.

He said that digitalising their business, especially companies active in the retail sector, is the only way forward if they want to see their business grow.

“A digital marketing manager has a plethora of tools at his disposal, from email advertising to posting videos and photos on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and lately Tik-Tok,” said Petrakides.

He added that companies could even print flyers with QR codes, which the targeted audience can scan with their mobile phone and get more information on the product.

“People scanning these QR codes on flyers could be rewarded with digital vouchers… the possibilities are endless.”

Social media

More and more enterprises in the EU are using social media.

In 2019, one in two enterprises reported that they were using at least one type of social media, which means an increase of 16 percentage points since 2014 (34%).

The use of social media was most popular among enterprises in Malta (84%), followed by Denmark (75%), the Netherlands (74%), Cyprus (73%), Sweden (72%), Belgium, Ireland and Finland (all 71%).

It was less popular among enterprises in Romania (33%), Bulgaria (34%), Poland (37%), Hungary (38%), Latvia (41%) and Slovakia (42%).

Denmark and Luxemburg reported the highest increase in social media use, the lowest increase was in Bulgaria

Compared with 2014, the percentage of enterprises using social media has risen across all EU Member States.

The highest increases were recorded in Denmark and Luxemburg (26 pp both), followed by Finland (25 pp), Sweden (24 pp) and Latvia (22 pp).

In Cyprus, it had risen by 21 pp since 2014 when the ratio was 52%.

The lowest increases were observed in Bulgaria (6 pp), Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia (all 11 pp).