Business

4 ways to build your global community

Image Credit: Globe

Omer Shai is a serial entrepreneur and the CMO of web-publishing platform Wix.

In the past, being an international company meant you had offices, employees and activities across the planet. Today, thanks to the Internet and an ever-flattening world, any startup with a router can go global.

Whether tweeting, posting, pinning, blogging, vining, instagramming, or any other socially wonky verb, social media tools are especially effective for reaching new users worldwide and communicating with existing ones. Yet, surprisingly, most startups are extremely unworldly when it comes to developing their global social media strategy.

My company, Wix, is based in Israel, but our main markets were in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. We now communicate with our 36 million+ users in nine different languages. Interacting closely with user communities across the globe has presented a unique challenge to us, but social media has made it possible, and a few key lessons we’ve learned along the way have made all the difference:

1. Talk the talk

As a non-native English speaker, I credit Google Translate with helping me prepare for countless presentations in English and avoid embarrassment in an even larger number of email correspondences. However, any Google Translate user has certainly encountered that awkward moment where the perfect phrase doesn’t quite, err, Google translate.

Simply put, it isn’t enough to translate your posts and messages literally, they need to be developed with specific countries, languages and cultural nuances in mind.  Single out your most important markets and find local experts who can help you create effective messaging for that sector.

For example, we’ve found that official-sounding language works best in France, while a more laid back approach is best for South Americans. Whatever the market, taking the time to figure out “what the Romans do” will pay dividends in social media.

2. Think global, go local

Popular sites like Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t always be your social default. Whether it’s VK in Russia or QZone in China, by targeting social networks that locals are most likely to use, you will successfully attract users beyond the reach of Twitter & Co.

A lot of them.

What’s more, duplicating your existing social media strategies to the unique social platforms in each of these countries may not fly. It’s not just about geography, it’s also about users’ distinctive style of interaction with each of the different social sites. Research the local networks and find out how users interact with them and what type of content best engages them.

3. Be market specific

Each market has its own characteristics. Most of these can be obvious in theory, but are often overlooked when developing a marketing strategy. For example, the sizzling-hot mid-summer campaign you’re working on with the U.S. in mind will come off awkward during the height of the Brazilian winter (which occurs at the same time). And while we all love our moms, Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates around the world.

Moreover, the colors and images that you choose should be suited to your target audience. Cultural tastes and associations vary greatly and shouldn’t be overlooked. These nuances must be taken into account.

4. Go to your “go to” people

Remember when networking meant meeting people face to face?  Though less expansive than social media, offline events can serve as a critical supplement to your online efforts. We’ve arranged user meet-ups in New York, London, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and beyond, giving us the opportunity to get meaningful face-time with our users and add a valuable new dimension to our network.

Build a relationship with your most committed users and guide, support and incentivize them to host local events. Not only will your reach be quickly expanded internationally, but users are apt to believe in these “Brand Champions” who are, after all, their trusted peers.

To sum up, always keep in mind that communities are ultimately about real people – with all their quirks and uniqueness – and your global social media strategy should never lose sight of that.

Omer ShaiOmer Shai is a serial entrepreneur and the CMO of web-publishing platform Wix.


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