Visiting Disney this year got me thinking. Ever wonder what the EPCOT stood for?
Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow for those Disney nerds keeping track. Actually, Walt Disney envisioned Epcot to be an actual city where people would work and live with new technology presented by the very best in industry.
As social media reaches maturity as a staple of brands’ communications, many are beginning to expand their reach from U.S.-focused presences to global ones like Walt Disney envisioned. Here are some key areas to consider before making the leap.
1. Set Goals: Why is your organization expanding your social footprint to foreign markets? Have you set clear business objectives for your expansion? Are your goals to improve reach, increase awareness, drive sales? Start small, with clear, measurable objectives like driving leads to local dealerships, or getting local decision makers to register for a webinar, versus large increases in revenue, which may be more difficult to achieve and measure, at least initially. Set expectations relatively low, and you’ll be more likely to demonstrate value to your organization and gain support for higher investment and further expansion.
2. Sort out your networks: Although Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are inherently global, there are popular social networks in other geographies that should be considered. In China, Weibo has over 500 million users. In Japan, over 50 million people have made Line that country’s fastest growing network. You’ll need local expertise to make any launch on these platforms work well. Returning to Facebook, for a moment, we’ve found that the best approach is to transition your page to a “Global Page” which will automatically redirect visitors from other countries to a custom version of your page, based on IP address. Page management is fairly seamless, allowing you to select posts from your U.S. page to share on the regional versions, but also allowing custom content for those specific geographies.
3. Content: Speaking of content, simply translating your current social posts into another language isn’t going to cut it. Even in English-speaking markets like the U.K. and Australia, there are nuances to language and custom that you’ll need to be vet your content against. It’s best to rely on local resources – either internally or at your agency – to take the lead on developing posts that will resonate with local followers. And because social is about the human connection, boots on the ground are required to make those connections flourish.
4. Customer Support: While we’re on the subject of human connection, what’s your plan to support customers via social in foreign markets? If you’re a small organization, with limited customer servicing in social, you may get away with having a single team member in each market respond to customer posts and tweets. But if you’re a large, global brand, with heavy customer service volumes on social, you’ll need a plan. Are there existing customer service resources at your global call centers that could be transitioned to social? Will they be able to work with systems like Salesforce or Spredfast to listen and engage with customers? If you’re rolling out to English-speaking markets, you may be able to use US-based resources, but if you’re not currently 24/7, you’ll need to consider that move to adapt to new time zones. And the cultural and language nuances need to be trained.
5. Monitor and Optimize: Real-time monitoring throughout launch will bring insights to bear that could change your strategy and the execution of it dramatically over the first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to change course if necessary – after all, one of the great benefits of digital communications is the ability to enhance things on the fly. Make sure that you’ve got the metrics you want to measure down before you launch, and monitor your progress towards your goals daily, at least. Engage quickly, authentically, and provide value to your customers, and you’re on the right track for a successful international social media launch.