We've been thinking a lot about global social media strategies and planning to contact many of you about your learnings and best practices in social media outside the U.S. To prime the pump, our social media maven, Matthew Lees, interviewed an expert on doing business globally, Bill Decker, who runs Partners International, a company specializing in helping firms with their global sales, marketing and business strategies.
How to Use Social Networking. I found Bill's recommendations about how to use social media outside the U.S. useful. He says:
"Most countries would adopt social media, but not for creating relationships. When you talk about ‘building relationships,' that's a confusing phrase. Is that with or without a foundation? For example, you'll see the Europeans pick up social media, but to work on relationships that they already have…. I'll give you an example: if you look at the University of California at Berkeley, they have a social media strategy that's based on (1) adopting new students and getting them to apply, and (2), going after corporate sponsors and getting them to help fund the school. If you look at Yonsei University in Seoul, their social media strategy is about keeping the alumni and students connected. For Yonsei, it's not about attracting new students. So, again, that they already have a community, they already have a foundation, and want a platform for them to interact with each other."
What Will Customers Talk about in a Community?
"For Chinese companies, there is a shame—the Chinese call it "mienze," which means "face" and roughly translates in English to "pride"—if problems with your products or your business become public. So a Chinese tea company, for example, would do better with a community that doesn't talk about what's wrong with their tea. They'd do better with a community that was about collecting interesting tea recipes instead. Or discussing questions like "What's the most interesting use you've had for our tea?" or, "How has tea benefited you in a non-tea-drinking way?" People may say they feel healthier, they wake up more refreshed, their boss loves it, or it's a great gift. That type of community would make a lot of sense in a country that's very concerned about shame."
Bill also explains why CRM systems aren't easy to implement outside of the U.S., why the notion of "friend" in an online context is fraught with difficulty, and how to tell if someone really IS your friend, and how different cultures define ethics and what that has to do with your mom!
You can read these and other useful observations about how cultural differences will impact your global business strategy in Matthew's interview.