Social Media on a Global Scale

One of our newest clients has an unusual market. The brand specifically targets Canada, America, the UK and France. Red Hot Penny have been tasked with managing their UK and French social channels but they would like to stay in control of the main US/Canadian platforms. This has sparked interest in learning more about how to manage social media globally. In this post, we highlight the issues we have faced and what you can do to ensure your social campaigns are a success across the world.

1.  Understand where your communities are

  • Set up monitoring tools and search queries and watch who is mentioning your brand
  • Use Google Trends to see how people are searching for your brand or topics related to your brand; you can view results by geography
  • Check your own web analytics for signs of significant traffic from specific markets

Following these techniques, you can find out whether your brand’s most active communities amalgamate around specific topics, rather than language or location. Additionally, if you haven’t already conducted a social media audit for your brand, then you should do this as part of a broader analysis of your social presence.

2. Organise your channels

Best practice suggests a hub and spoke model works most effectively; pick one channel to be the focal point and priority for your social media efforts. The hub and spoke model is the de-facto management structure adopted by many of the biggest brands. The “hub” is a centralised Centre of Excellence consisting of trained experts who can assist the “spokes”, various departmental teams whose social media activities may be completely unrelated, or overlap. It aims to combine the management oversight needed to avoid crises with the openness required to enable different teams to use social media creatively.

For many brands, especially B2B ones, this will be an owned channel such as a blog, forum or community site rather than a third party platform such as Twitter or Facebook. It makes sense to align the hub with your largest, most active market – so usually it’s in English-language.

Focus on creating content and building authority for that hub. Use other social platforms and channels to promote that content and drive traffic to the hub. Use third party platforms to listen and respond to your communities in their language. This will be primarily a reactive effort to start with. It takes time to build a credible social presence.

For brands with an established social media presence, the challenge is often how to streamline numerous sites and channels. While you want to encourage participation (you’ll need that later), having dozens of social profiles is at best inefficient and at worst damaging to your brand.

3. Develop content that meets your audience’s needs

Now you know where your communities are and what they’re interested in. You have a way to listen to them and communicate with them. You have organised your channels and prioritised your resources accordingly. Now you need to create content that will support your global needs and demonstrate a global view.

In general, the rules of content creation for global brands are:

  • Always remember that your audience is global and be careful of content that is irrelevant or inappropriate in certain markets
  • Don’t rely on Google Translate to create local language content. Always use a professional translation service and have a native speaker check it. Luckily we have our own French speaking copywriter for this!
  • Use images wherever possible – pictures and graphics are much easier to digest for international audiences
  • Relevance is critical. Every individual your organisation engages with needs to see how the conversation is relevant to them

Identify the right influencers in each of your target markets and put effort behind engaging with them. We have been spending a lot of time planning which French and UK bloggers we are going to contact on behalf of our client. Give them access to resources and (literally) speak their language, and you will be so much more effective than the hundreds of companies that blast their ‘targets’ with the same corporate material.

4. Implement a global social media policy

The more distributed your organisation, the harder it will be to enforce guidelines around appropriate use of social media. A global social media policy is important. So what are the key components?

  • Introduce your main social channels and say what they are for. The policy is a good opportunity to ensure everyone understands how the organisation uses social media and to encourage people to follow the company’s updates on social channels.
  • Introduce the people responsible for social media in your company – make sure everyone in the company knows who they are and how to reach them
  • Establish ground rules for social media marketing. Highlight who can and cannot create a social media channel or profile on behalf of the company. Lay out what is permissible, who needs to give approval, how each channel must be branded, and what types of content can and cannot be shared.
  • Establish acceptable individual use guidelines. A social media policy needs to include rules for use of social media at work, what may or may not be said about the company in an employee’s own social networks, and what the consequences are of breaching the policy.
  • Clarify the crisis procedure. Define what constitutes an issue and describe the escalation process. If applicable, include guidelines for responses that may be given locally.
  • Have your policy reviewed by the legal department for any regulatory, compliance, or corporate requirements.
  • End the policy by providing a way for markets to put forward suggestions. Your staff are your eyes, ears, arms and legs in a global campaign and their active participation, when properly manage, can enhance its success.

5. Measuring is key

Measure a global social media programme in the same way you measure any campaign. Be sure to establish outcomes that reflect your business goals, then Key Performance Indicators to show progress toward those outcomes.

Your most important goals will focus on your hub channel. If that’s your company blog, for example, showing continued growth in subscribers and links will be key. If your focal point is a website geared toward lead generation, the number of conversions on that site will be your top metric.

Be careful about comparing metrics across markets. Social media adoption varies greatly and it’s hard to gain a true like-for-like comparison when focusing on quantitative metrics. Instead, focus on qualitative metrics: What is the overall tone of conversation? Which messages gain the most traction? What is the level of engagement in proportion to the community size in each market?

In Conclusion

If you are a global brand and ship your product to multiple countries across the world, it is very important to your customer’s journey and satisfaction that you invest time in communicating with each individual country. Brands are extremely lucky that they can now use social media to do this, when before we had no control over how we communicated with our customers. While social media is a luxury, brands must be careful and manage each platform strategically.

There is a way to be both global and local with social media.

  • Listen carefully
  • Organise channels thoughtfully
  • Create relevant content
  • Allocate resources to engaging with local influencers and communities
  • Measure appropriately and refine based on data

By following this formula, global brands can be successful in social.

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