Is your market ready for social media?
Ogilvy & Mather is a multinational enterprise. Many of our clients are as well. We routinely plan and execute social media strategies in many countries. In the past year, some of our biggest clients began the process of applying governance and policies for use of social media globally and locally.
Once local markets really get active, they can spawn an inconsistent use of social networks and a mixed bag of best practices that without a little stewardship can have a poor ROR (return on reputation). Essentially, it is another form of sloppy brand management - not necessarily through any fault of the local market.
Most global companies are more decentralised than centralised, especially if they are B2C brands. That gives the local marketer latitude around strategy and tactics. Before the internet, it was less likely that incongruous local campaigns would come to anyone's attention outside that market.
Now, whatever you do online can be discovered by almost anyone. Search Facebook for five of your favourite brands, and chances are you will discover some official pages and some special purpose pages, such as the employee soccer league, in an odd market. It pays to put those social media guidelines in place ASAP to avoid the process of auditing the existing patchwork of Facebook pages, YouTube videos and Twitter handles.
When you are in 80 markets, like some of the world's giant FMCGs, or even in
20 markets, how do you decide when to begin using social media at the local level? I would argue there are three DIY indices you can use to gauge timing.
1. Enterprise readiness
By now, most brands have some social media experience, either at the corporate or product brand level to refer to. It doesn't matter how successful or big this effort was, so long as there was learning and this was shared with the company. Do you have an overarching social strategy that is integrated with your overall marcom strategy? Do you have a corporate social media "playbook" or guidelines in place? These should outline your overall social strategy - how you plan to use the major social networks.
2. Market conditions
Do customers and influencers use social media in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile? Despite the global steamroller known as Facebook, every market has different conditions. It helps if you know your willingness to get into something early. That helps you decide if an installed base of 30% of total population as internet users is good enough to get going - the chances are this 30% have some type of influencer profile making it worthwhile.
3. Local Marcom team's readiness
Have markets established the "digital basics"? Did the local team demonstrate proper commitment? Social media marketing is neither free nor simple. If local marketers expect to be successful, they need to confirm they have the staff to properly manage the effort, the budget to do it right and a reasonable evaluation model to know when they are winning or losing.
John Bell is managing director of 360 digital influence, Ogilvy & Mather.
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