"Part One" of this series provided the foundation required to determine whether or not you should expand your integrated marketing and social directives on a global scale. Now ask yourself whether it makes sense to hire an external vendor or service to speak on your behalf in a given language. If the answer is yes, then what are the necessary steps to ensure they meet brand guidelines and gain a deep understanding of your businesses culture? I won't dwell on this point, as I have outlined it in many posts before. But you should never allow an employee or third party to speak on behalf of your business or brand unless you have verified that they have a deep understanding of your goals and objectives.
"Getting your content translated is one thing, but understanding the message you want to get across, and the cultural nuances of the target audience, that’s when it gets tricky. That’s where humans beat machines now and in the foreseeable future, but even a random human being out of the blue won’t be much different than a machine. And that’s where a smart solution that knows just who is the right person for the job becomes important." ~ Jani Penttinen | CEO & founder, Transfluent
Day-to-Day Best Practices
- I think it is important to have a hierarchical org chart of social deployment when it comes to your brand. For instance, if you're a Japanese toy company, most traffic should come from your Japanese channels. From there you would trickle down your messaging to other languages you see as being aligned to your business model. Nevertheless, assign a specific language as the top tier with the brand association.
Brands of note: IKEA is a classic example of a brand that is incredibly dominant in the United States, yet still retains many of its Swedish influences.
- When developing graphical or video content for a specific region, take time to ensure that you meet the needs of that area's design sensibilities. What is considered "the norm" in one country might be dramatically different in other countries, languages and regions.
- Maintain your content deployment calendar so you maximize your effectiveness by posting at the appropriate time for various time zones. Depending on the size of the country or region, you may want to post multiple instances on the same day to optimize effectiveness. Please note: many channels will not allow you to post redundant messages, so take care in changing/tweaking your content appropriately for your alternate time.
- Another important point when it comes to your content calendar is to ensure that you understand regional events, holidays, and your customer lifecycle within the given months of the year.
While consulting for Orlando Harley-Davidson, I noticed there was great differentiation between marketing on the East Coast and West Coast, as well as specific seasonality that changes the buying cycle of the products. Clearly there is not going to be a hot rush for a new motorcycle in the dead of winter if I live in Michigan; but there are still events to promote and seeds to sow in Southern States (Roll Tide!).
- Make sure your marketing message carries the same tone and weight within the alternative language or channel. For instance, a one-to-one translation of an English campaign message could very well be taken out of context once it is been translated to another language. Also, research local slang, acronyms and social "chat speak" so you can benefit from your familiarization of the regional culture. Your audience in another country will, I repeat will, sniff out an English-speaking marketing company trying to hodgepodge a campaign together in an alternate language. Do your research, do it right.
- Every country and culture has a unique style of engagement. Turkish culture often takes a great deal of time to create familiarization between two vendors before any business transpires. While in other cultures, the faster you get something done the quicker the loyalty is galvanized. These nuances may influence how you choose to speak and interact with your audience on your chosen social networks.
- There is no magic bullet, no perfect social channel, and no optimal calendar messaging mix. No matter what or where you deploy, it will take time to optimize your campaign. Create alternate messaging and see what works best. Try multiple channels and maintain them for a good while (a minimum of six months) to determine their effectiveness.
As always, I'm here to learn just as much as I am to help. If you have additional advice to add, please feel free to comment on this post and share your own expertise.