Is your company global? Are you building or running an online community for business for a global audience? If this is the case, your online efforts will need to be designed differently if you are really trying to engage your clients. Too often, the social media efforts and projects are led by the US team and do not take into account the needs of EMEA, PAC-Asia and other regions of the world in a strategic way.
For a global online community to be inclusive of world needs, there are a few steps you can take to ensure relevancy around the world.
In the planning phase of social media, include non-US stakeholders – invite them to key meetings, interview them about their regional needs to service their regions effectively, and be considerate when scheduling conference calls so that it is not a burden for them to attend the stakeholder planning meetings.
Talk to a select number of global clients to find out what their needs are for an online community – how can an online community better support their relationship with your company or help them connect with other global peers more effectively. Their needs are likely to be very different than US clients as regional delivery of products and services tend to take on their own flavor.
Consider cultural differences when designing the look and feel of the community. Are some colors better for all groups than others? How will the community or network look when the site is translated into different languages. Member acquisition strategies will need to take a different work flow all-together well. Many countries are not as dependent on e-mail and Europe is generally a more dependent (or better at?) relationship building so perhaps there need to be a more individualized member invitation process than with the US.
Don’t make stupid US-Centric mistakes in any language, messaging or member communications. A reference to Thanksgiving, for example, could be extremely off-putting to non-US members. Even mentioning “weekend” could be a problem as “weekend” can start on different days depending on where you are from. These are important nuances that should not be overlooked.
If the community is either sizable or important to the organization, leverage regional staff from your company to lead the marketing efforts and co-moderate the community with a US partner to ensure that you engage and interact correctly and make the most of your global community.