Social Media: Harnessing The Power Of Global Conversation

The days of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on laborious market research are over. Through social media and data analytics, businesses are given a powerful, proprietary platform to better understand analysts, thought leaders, industry experts and prospective clients. It might sound too good to be true, but that’s the reality of today’s social media landscape.

Even better? These platforms — especially Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube — let companies listen in on market trends and proactively address customer needs. Simply paying attention to what’s being shared provides modern businesses with a wealth of market research data.

I’ve helped our organization navigate the challenges of communicating socially to distinctly different audiences while expanding connections globally. And while the opportunities to capitalize on social media remain abundant, true success comes from moving beyond mere participation and extends to the ability to formulate a sound channel strategy for each platform that takes into account the complexity of the current social landscape.

Start with a strong brand platform

A strong social program needs an equally sturdy foundation to build upon. That’s why it’s critical for organizations to first consider their brand positioning and, if necessary, take the time to invest in a brand refresh. Brands aren’t static and industries naturally evolve over time. Organizations that withstand the test of time have the capacity to adapt and strengthen alongside market changes and customer needs. A cohesive brand coupled with clearly articulated social media operations is a powerful recipe for success. By investing the time to clearly communicate your brand’s strategy, all brand and social media ambassadors will be better engaged and more effective at what they do.

An important component of developing a strong brand strategy comes from encouraging employees to revisit the “why” of a company — what it does, how it does it and the underlying reasoning — to help employees better align themselves with the company’s goals. Such a strategy familiarizes individuals with what makes them unique as a company and inspires them to communicate those traits to the world at large.

SYKES is a company of many perspectives unified by one goal: to help people one caring interaction at a time. We’ve built our social program by sharing stories and engaging in conversations around our core purpose. One way we’ve bolstered our message is through the creation of a video series entitled “Work, Learn, Grow.” We explore authentic global employee perspectives surrounding our culture and how we help, which provides powerful content that personifies our competitive advantage.

Harness cultural nuances

Many marketing teams make the mistake of focusing only on local audiences at the expense of having a wider impact. An important ingredient for success comes from first recognizing that there is no global one-size-fits-all approach to social media. Each region has its own unique business needs.

For many larger organizations, it’s beneficial to employ a federated model when approaching social media. This allows each region within the company a certain degree of autonomy, operating and managing its own social channels while remaining under the umbrella of overarching brand guidelines. It’s imperative to understand how each region’s respective target audience may interact differently within the social media space, which underscores the importance of utilizing country-specific platforms to expand reach and generate greater engagement.

Knowing which platforms work best for each region is vital, but it’s also just the beginning. Different types of content, hashtags and even messaging methods can be unique for each region. In a global social landscape, it’s important to create teams that can expertly tailor their own social media programs — including cultural references and communication styles — to fit the needs of each region.

Champion organizational influencers

In order to realize the true potential of any global social media program it’s important to identify and develop an internal team of influencers. Since social media is the frontline of any brand’s communication, these influencers will often become the face of the company.

Championing a strong team of internal social media influencers starts with identifying individuals based on a variety of factors including skill set, cross-departmental collaboration and existing level of social media experience. Building upon that foundation, all social media influencers should be trained on brand and social media guidelines, as well as on-going training on best practices. This empowers a passionate group of people who actively monitor and engage with social media channels. When paired with sales teams, this leads to an internal amplification effect that builds upon their individual networks and extends brand awareness globally.

In order to effectively educate influencers, we created a social media ambassador training program in addition to a social media podcast that features tips and best practices from internal and external thought leaders in the social space. Our internal influencers participate in this program and are empowered to engage socially, which strengthens our brand reach and overall engagement.

The future of global social media programs

The bottom line? Social media is always “on” and needs 24/7 attention across time zones and language barriers. To do this, global companies need a cohesive team of savvy individuals to effectively manage social media and harness its capabilities.

Social media is a great equalizer in the world of communication; it helps the best and most interesting ideas be heard. But social media is less predictable than traditional channels. In recognizing this, successful social media marketers need to stay smart and current, not just following trends but also setting them.