May 17, 2023

Scaling social media intelligence part 2: Going global

Date & Time (GMT):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM
Date & Time (EST):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM

How to expand the impact of social media intelligence and your own role by increasing its impact in the organization? This is the important topic of this series of articles on Scaling Social Media Intelligence. In part 1, I discussed breaking out of organizational silos to apply social media intelligence learnings to multiple organization functions like market research, analytics, media, R&D, PR and other teams. For part 2, I will provide guidance on scaling social media intelligence across global markets.

When taking the first step outside your own market, there are two buckets of issues to take into consideration. The first bucket has more to do with technical and logistics. The second one has more to do with organizational issues and will be covered in Part 3.

Understanding the social media landscape

How and in what way is social media important for the market?

For each market, the very first consideration is more of an academic one but important to establish a foundation: what is the role or importance of social media in each market in terms of shaping consumer opinion? Knowing this can help contextualize and position findings vs. traditional market research. For some markets where traditional media is more censored, word of mouth (both online and offline) is vital because it is seen as the way to get the ‘real’ story. And while paid promotions and ‘fake’ content is prevalent, consumers will likely be very savvy in recognizing it even when it is not transparent.

Which social media platforms are critical? What role do they play in the market?

Another element of the landscape is understanding the role and importance of different social media platforms for each market. For global platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other common names, not every platform is utilized in the same way or extent. For example, Twitter is not nearly as popular or influential in Germany as it is in other markets.

Some markets have unique platforms, including Russia, China, Japan and Korea. For these markets, avoid the lure of ‘false cognates’ when trying to understand their role. For example, Weibo in China indeed does look and act like Twitter in many ways but it is also more heavily impacted by influencers (many of whom are paid) as well as censorship.

Don’t forget message boards

All markets will have Reddit style message boards or online forums. While not very sexy compared to more ‘modern’ forms of social media, these are often essential to find the most engaged and tuned in consumers with relevant, in-depth commentary especially for high involvement ones including auto, beauty, parenting and fashion.

Understanding the Social Media Landscape

Choosing a social listening tool

What sources are covered? To what extent are they covered?

Almost every social listening tool will claim global coverage but it’s important to understand that there is a difference between ‘coverage’ and ‘in depth’ or quality coverage. Once you have identified which social media platforms you need for your target market, dig deep to understand how well different social listening tools cover each platform, especially local platforms like message boards or ‘cognate’ platforms. In the end, no tool is going to cover ‘everything,’ but if you understand the landscape, you can determine which ones sufficiently cover the platforms that have the conversations that matter across the most markets. In an ideal world, you may need to have more than one tool and/or a mix & match of local and global tools.

Does the platform handle ‘hard’ languages?

Asian languages like Thai, Korean, Japanese and Chinese can be a challenge. Do some side-by-side testing and probe the tools’ support teams on this question; make sure the person who is answering your question is a native speaker of that language or at least can speak to the nuances of processing of the target language.

Localizing queries & analysis

Are you using the right key terms?

Translation is not localization. Localizing queries means you are including unique language, slang or concepts in the market. For example, if you don’t include “Little Brown Bottle” as a term for Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair in China, you will miss out on a significant amount of content for analysis. The need for localization also applies to analysis. Only analysts who come from the local market with knowledge of popular culture, slang and simply the ‘way things are done’ in that market will be able to make sense of and contextualize findings.

Passing the local market litmus test

One litmus test for a successful output is if the target local market teams buy into it. They will ask you about source coverage, the key terms used and the analysts that did the work.

But the rub is that even if you executed perfect and valid work, the output may not actually be relevant to their local needs if you did not involve the local teams in the execution or most importantly in the scoping. You may be asking the right questions for your need from a global perspective but do these match the needs in the target market?

The distinction between local and global needs and how to serve them with consistent processes will be the topic for Part 3.

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