One of the biggest challenges to delivering an effective social media campaign for big, multinational brands is executing the strategy on a practical level: you’ll have multiple networks, profiles, languages, and social media managers to control across different countries.
Implementing your social channels effectively is critical for search optimisation these days, so getting on top of your global campaign at a local level is more important than ever before.
So how do you handle each of these elements to deliver a consistent tone, brand message and positive campaign ROI?
Well, no one would claim it’s easy, but here’s five tips learnt from years in the trenches delivering social media strategy for multinational brands you’ll find useful.
Tip 1: Agree On A Social Style Guide
Just as important as your brand’s Social Media Policy, a social style guide should provide a framework for your social media mavens to work within in each country that ensures they have the freedom to be flexible in managing their profiles while still conveying uniformity of tone and brand message.
This is especially important in countries where the leading social networks are not your standard Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, et al. A good example is Skyrock.com, which is the second most popular social network in France and French speaking Switzerland and Belgium.
Though this will always be unique to the brand values of the business, examples of good general elements to a social style guide are:
- Don’t feed the Trolls! Always be positive.
- Write for, and to, people: don’t act like a heartless feed of information.
- Don’t repeat yourself. Don’t repost without adding value or opinion.
- You are an employee of your brand, therefore your opinions and interests reflect the brand: don’t be afraid to allow your personality into your posts.
- Write about what engages you. Don’t just parrot industry news.
- Spend time finding other people in your niche and say hi (oh: and you are in a niche, regardless of how big your industry is).
Remember, you should be providing a framework within which your social media managers can be flexible, so don’t be restrictive or paranoid: you have to trust your team in each and every country.
If you can’t, you should focus on solving that issue, rather than compromising your social style guide.
Tip 2: Get Your Branding & Social Profiles Consistent
In addition to the obvious backlink benefit of ensuring your profiles are correctly set up, engagement with those profiles is more accurately fed into your main site performance by Google when you have clear profile relationships set up fromt he outset.
It’s easy for medium-sized brands to forget that they have a huge amount of branding opportunity within social profiles: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and so on all have excellent personalisation opportunities which allow you to put your brand front and centre.
Larger multinational brands will likely already have some basic profile personalisation in place, but very little naturalisation of that profile to the network it’s on: you should be presenting different elements of your brand to different networks (imagine trying to use a single profile to target the difference in audience between LinkedIn and Facebook: it’s not easy or recommended).
However, regardless of the current state of play, you should make sure you decide how you want your brand to be projected in the social sphere first of all.
Some brands are naturally suited to social by virtue of having a positive, globally recognised brand in the first place.
For example, Pepsi Cola’s integration of brand to their YouTube channel makes it almost indistinguishable from their own Web properties while still delivering all the advantages of being within YouTube’s powerful distribution system (not to mention the SEO benefits of YouTube activity).
Disney Pixar on Facebook also does a great job of maintaining a community for the Toy Story trilogy. And fun, relaxed, people-oriented brands like Boden or FatFace’s Twitter Accounts show how a strong community can be seamlessly built around brand ethos.
Without going to those extremes, even a limited budget social media campaign can deliver improved campaign ROI by ensuring the core brand experience is consistent across all social profiles in terms of branded layouts and consistent profile descriptions.
Each profile should offer clear points of differentiation (for example, at a very basic level using Facebook for community groups, and Twitter for retail or promotional offer groups).
For the multinational business, the challenge is to achieve this level of integration in each country operated in, which still achieving an over-arching social brand personality.
By laying out your social policy clearly, upfront, and applying it to each territory by managing your local webmaster teams closely and ensuring buy-in, you have the best opportunity to achieve that balance. Regular (I’d suggest fortnightly at the least) and fair reviews of social profiles and activities against the policy allow you to give steer to each territory on how effective they are being.
Tip 3: Streamline Your Workflow
Once you’ve organised your social profiles’ tone and purpose by following the preceding tips, next up is the logistical challenge of mapping those networks to your global customer base.
This means you need to judge what capability you have to service as granular a localisation of your social strategy across all territories as possible.
In an ideal world, you’d look to cover off all relevant languages in all target countries. This might mean anything from unique twitter profiles for, say, your French eComms customer service team, or managing access to your global Twitter profile for different native language speakers and functions, each demarcated by unique hashtag handles alongside their post.
In practice, there are usually compromises to be made to match your in-house resources (we can’t all be Nike, after all), but to build out your process you should take into account the natural intent of each social network.
For example, if you’re a B2B business, LinkedIn is going to be a more valued network to you than Facebook or Pinterest and you should allocate resource accordingly.
You may be able to make efficiencies and therefore extend your social profile by shifting your Web-facing customer service function entirely onto, say, Twitter a lá Vodafone (also a good example of using tags to identify different real people using the account to make the account much more effective for handling customer concerns).
Whichever approach you take (and if you’re on a very tight budget, I’d suggest strictly limiting the number of networks and profiles used to execute your strategy, allowing you to concentrate your efforts), it’s important that you post appropriately and consistently, avoiding any automated solutions to try to ‘extend’ your reach: social networks ultimately are about real people, so no cutting corners!
The advantage for search is that the improved focus on profiles will trigger algorithmic benefits for your main domain in addition to increasing your brand visibility in time-sensitive searches.
Tip 4: Don’t Ignore Local Networks
A lot of countries have very strong local rivals to the major social networks, and if any fall into your target countries, I’d strongly recommend you prioritise including them in your social strategy and allocate some of your resource to developing your presence.
A colleague at QueryClick recently covered off some core multinational markets and social networks to be aware of, so I won’t repeat them here, but I strongly urge you extend the research in your core markets and also take onboard the difference in European and North American social network engagement.
Of course, each local network you identify is another profile and backlink engagement opportunity. When that link is coming from a locally important network you’re improving your algorithmic benefit most efficiently.
Tip 5: Positive, Localised Feedback
Finally, in order to manage the implementation of your strategy, you need to make the most of your analytics packages to show the value driven by your social campaigns to your team, and review the effectiveness of each country’s implementation of your brand policies.
I’ve found that collating an auto-run report scorecard showing activity, reactions, traffic driven, traffic converted, signups and sales (if relevant, otherwise leads generated) is the most fair report, which you should then temper with some real word reactions to the campaign for each territory (both good & bad).
This can either be gathered by looking at conversations generated, asking for feedback directly once converted onto the main suite via a feedback form, or by simply pulling out activity posted by the social manager themselves and matching it against your policy to show where they are hitting the mark and where they can make improvements. Much like the social commandments, you should always seek to keep your feedback positive to encourage positive activity from each country: when social becomes a chore, the quality of the content delivered is weakened.
It’s also a good idea to map out the social engagement of each country to give you a very top level idea of how pro-active each country is being socially. Aiming to make this map activity match up with brand ambitions for performance in each country (there will always be key markets for your brand) ensures you keep your focus on improving the countries which are strategically important.
If you have access to Hitwise for your marketplace, request a report on social network marketshare in each country and ensure you’re tracking aggregated activity across each network, normalised by its marketshare to get an accurate (or as accurate as you can be) steer for activity being performed in the right place.
After all, you don’t want to spend your time optimising socially shared product images in Orkut in the US, but you do if you’re reporting on activity in Brazil, India and Japan.
So remember: context is everything. Make sure you’re optimising in (and reporting on) the right language, in the right networks, for your target countries. One size does not fit all in multinational social media strategies.
Image attribution: Insights Consulting
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