Social media usage is up across the globe (particularly in Asia) as more individuals leverage social sites and tools for their jobs each day; according to our research, that includes 28 percent of b-to-b sales and marketing staffers. Many organizations must contend with regions that set up their own social accounts without any business case to support their existence. On the other hand, merely having corporate marketing set up multiple Twitter accounts or Facebook pages across the globe ignores regional differences in how social media is used.
If any part of the business is global in nature, it’s imperative to understand on an ongoing basis how the social media strategy should be customized by region. In addition, policies and procedures should be audited to determine their applicability in different regions from a cultural and legal perspective. Any other content or guidelines that are instructional for social participants — from branding guidelines to training materials — must be audited as well. Organizations should put a process in place that requires regions to justify why a particular social account should be created, which includes a commitment from a time-and-resources perspective at the local level to maintain an agreed-upon level of activity.
Social media monitoring is the foundation that any global social business strategy is built upon. When done on a global basis, it requires a tool that tracks not only how typical social sites (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) are used by buyers in different regions, but also any sites that exist in multiple regions or languages. While using a monitoring tool that supports historical data is a nice-to-have from an intelligence perspective, its use to identify appropriate social outlets isn’t as critical, given that regionally specific community sites are waning in importance.
The key to successful global social intelligence is ongoing monitoring in conjunction with “feet on the street” intelligence about relevant sites and trends, which may need to be provided by third-party vendors if regions don’t have staff who are social media savvy. This intelligence should include competitors’ use of social media and perceptions of the organization at a regional level. When identifying influencers, the monitoring tool must be applied at the regional level, because influencers can vary drastically region by region, from formal analysts to non-traditional bloggers and community managers. Local peers also must be considered influencers; ignoring their social media participation can undermine local social efforts. It is important to learn how social media sites (e.g. YouTube or LinkedIn) impact the perception of local stake- holders, and to create a strategy that cultivates positive engagement with these participants; in many cases, regionally specific social media sites and language barriers may necessitate reliance on local agencies to help build a social media execution process.
Jonathan Block is Vice President and Practice Director, Technology, at SiriusDecisions. He has developed key models and frameworks that enable b-to-b organizations to understand, evaluate and implement appropriate marketing and sales technologies, as well as advised executive clients on the role of technology to help drive sales and marketing integration and enterprise alignment. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jblock.