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If you wanted to grow strawberries in your backyard, what would you do?
Reinvent the wheel and create new, never-before-seen methods for growing healthy strawberry plants.
Learn from successful gardening experts who’ve harvested a ton of strawberry crops throughout the years.
But if all you want is delicious, sweet, healthy strawberries?
You’d go for option #2.
Because here’s the thing: reinventing the wheel and experimenting with new stuff is all good.
But if you want sure results, look to the past and follow what worked.
The same is true with social media campaigns.
As we face a new year, we can go all out A/B testing our brand-new campaign ideas.
Or we can look back, single out the best campaigns, and dig into why they worked.
Of course, I’m not saying we should spin or plagiarize other brands’ content.
What I’m saying is there’s a ton to learn with what went right last year that we can put into our own campaigns.
So are you ready to check out some of the best social media campaigns going?
Let’s dive in.5 Top Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)
2023 was a year of unprecedented change.
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the world, people lost their security, jobs, businesses, and even loved ones.
But the human spirit stayed alive despite the catastrophe.
People continued buying coffee. Bags. Clothing.
And the best brands kept in touch with them on social media, making sure they had everything they needed.
Here are five top social media campaigns (plus what you can learn from each of them).1. Manu Atelier’s Lockdown Launch
You’re a thriving fashion brand selling luxury bags and shoes.
Suddenly, a global pandemic strikes, and your loyal customers are stuck at home.
You’re forced to temporarily close your shops.
What would you do?
For luxury fashion brand Manu Atelier, it meant pivoting from their original campaigns and connecting with their Instagram following on a deeper level.
Their plan was genius.
They reached out to friends and fans of the brand and asked them to shoot photos of themselves with their Manu Atelier pieces… right in their own homes.
Check out this post…
…And this one.
…And this one.
The brand enjoyed higher engagement with their following and a successful launch of their new collection as a result.
What we can learn from Manu Atelier’s lockdown launch:
Be ready to pivot and change your marketing plan within short notice.
If there’s anything we as marketers can predict, it’s change.
No one expected the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic brought.
But for brands like Manu Atelier, which were ready to quickly pivot and change their message, things worked out more than well.2. Coors Light’s Giveaway
Here it is:
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 12, 2023
Now, Coors Light could have enjoyed the few minutes of fame and done nothing about it.
But they were quick to grab the opportunity.
Just a day later, they delivered 10 cases of beer to Olive Veronesi’s doorstep.
— KDKA (@KDKA) April 13, 2023
But that’s not all.
Coors Light went even further and planned one of 2023’s best social media campaigns based on what happened.
What they did was run a month-long giveaway.
All you had to do to join was tweet them using their campaign hashtag: #CouldUseABeer.
Let’s face it – right now, America #CouldUseABeer. Tell us who could use a 6 pack and why. We’re buying.
Beer purch. req’d. Offer varies by state. See bio for T&C link. Ends 6/1/20.
— Coors Light (@CoorsLight) April 28, 2023
In the end, they gave away 500,000 beers, greatly boosting brand awareness and good public sentiment.
What we can learn from Coors Light’s campaign:
Don’t waste the random moments your brand gets the spotlight!
But Coors Light’s 15 minutes of fame could have all gone to waste if they hadn’t followed it with a related campaign to “relieve the stress of a pandemic.”3. Hello BC’s #ExploreBCLater Campaign
The COVID-19 pandemic hit some industries harder than others.
For instance, the travel industry.
With lockdowns and travel restrictions set in place across the globe, the tourism industry saw itself facing a severe problem.
But not all travel and tourism authorities lay down to weather the storm or die.
Provincial authority Hello BC decided to come up with an epic campaign called #ExploreBCLater. This campaign was related to their previous one called #ExploreBC.
What did they do?
They encouraged people to stay home and enjoy virtual tourism by posting their own beautiful BC snapshots, no matter how old.
The results were amazing: 12,722 posts using the hashtag #ExploreBCLater.
Here’s an example.
And this one.
The best part is, the campaign didn’t only boost awareness for Hello BC.
It also served as a great way for photographers to make money during the lockdown by repurposing their old photographs.
That’s hitting two birds with one stone at its best.
What we can learn from Hello BC’s campaign:
User-generated content works like magic because people love sharing their own stories and special life moments.
So next time you’re planning a campaign ask yourself this, “How can I make this about my ideal client instead of my brand?”
And, “How can I take the attention away from myself, and place it on my potential customer?”4. Starbucks’ #WhatsYourName Campaign
Ever gone to Starbucks and had the name on your cup misspelled?
Yup, Starbucks is famous for misspelling names. (On purpose, maybe?)
And back in February, they decided to use this well-known practice of writing names on cups to spark one of their best social media campaigns yet.
They partnered with Mermaids, an organization that supports gender-diverse and transgender youth, and started the #WhatsYourName campaign.
To join, all you had to do was post using the hashtag or a photo of their mermaid cookie, which raised funds for gender-diverse and transgender youth.
The result was an overflow of warmth and good sentiment.
Check this one out…
— Finn (TheInFinncible) 🏳️🌈 (@FinlayGames) October 3, 2023
…and this one.
What you can learn from Starbucks’ #WhatsYourName campaign:
While it can be disastrous to pick a polarizing topic, there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand for what you believe in.
Sure, it’s a good idea to stay away from religion and politics in your campaigns. But standing up for the rights of a minority group will win you a ton of love.5. Proctor & Gamble’s #DistanceDance Campaign
In March of 2023, Proctor & Gamble (the brand that packages everything from razor blades to dandruff-free shampoo), partnered up with Charli D’Amelio to create the #DistanceDance campaign.
Here’s how it worked:
Users were encouraged to stay at home and film a short dance video.
They would then post these videos on TikTok with the hashtag #DistanceDance.
For the first three million videos, Proctor & Gamble promised to donate to Feeding America and Matthew 25.
The results were amazing.
In the first week alone, #DistanceDance garnered 1.7 million iterations and eight billion views.
To date, the hashtag has 17.6 billion views.
What we can learn from the #DistanceDance campaign:
A campaign run by an influencer can go a long way. Since Charli D’Amelio has 105.6 million followers, her video reached a ton of people.
Of course, it’s not necessary to reach out to the biggest stars. You can go smaller and still enjoy success.
The key is to choose a topic that your influencer’s followers will care about.How to Run a Timeless & Successful Social Media Campaign
I know, planning a new social media campaign is daunting.
You’re thinking to yourself, “It’s January again. A new year. What brand new ideas can I come up with this year?”
Maybe you’re even feeling exhausted just looking forward to hours-long brainstorming sessions where you try to build a campaign that’ll stand out.
But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
You don’t need to beat yourself up if you can’t come up with “never-before-seen” ideas.
Because the thing is, shiny new campaign ideas can turn out to be a complete waste of time.
Do this instead.
Take a tiny peep into the past.
Which campaigns worked best?
Why did they work?
Then, apply what you’ve learned to your new campaign.
For instance, look at the five campaigns above and make a checklist for yours:
Run a campaign based on current events.
Run a campaign based on that one time your brand got attention on social media.
Run a campaign based on user-generated content.
Run a campaign based on standing up for someone else’s rights.
Run a campaign through a beloved social media influencer.
When you’ve tried all five, give your brand a hard look and be amazed at how much it has improved.
All screenshots taken by author, January 2023.
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Kristen Hernandez wants her children to be better parents than she was. After growing up in a family that struggled with “a generational curse of child abuse,” she says she tried to do things differently. But without much guidance, Hernandez was left to “wing it,” and admits she’d made mistakes along the way. “A lot of times, I was hypercritical of my kids—I felt like if I didn’t correct them immediately, it would become a habit,” she remembers. Now, Hernandez worries she’s “misprogrammed” those parenting ideas into her children, who’ve since gone on to have their own.
But three years ago, while working at a childcare referral agency in North Carolina, Hernandez read an article about “gentle parenting”—a discipline embodying everything she believed, but had never known existed. “The basic idea is that parents should be aware of their child’s developmental stage, and divorce [their] own ego from what’s happening,” she explains. “It’s about not taking behaviors personally, and nurturing children to become who they want to be, instead of how we’d like to see them.”
The term comes from British childcare expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of the “The Gentle Parenting Book,” who defines the discipline as“be[ing] responsive to children’s needs” and “recogniz[ing] that all children are individuals.”
As opposed to authoritarian parenting that focuses on controlling and punishing a child’s behavior (a discipline since proven to be largely ineffective), or parenting that uses praise and rewards to “palliate” the problem (which can also, in some cases, harm a child’s self-esteem by making them expect unrealistic levels of positive feedback), Ockwell-Smith says gentle parenting is based on a simple premise: “understanding why children behave in the way they do, looking for unmet needs, and resolving them.”
In practice, she says, that might mean looking out for child’s tiredness signs instead of keeping them on a strict sleep schedule, “feeding them on cue” instead of adhering to set dining times, or talking them through a tantrum instead of punishing them. And despite a misconception that gentle parenting is “lazy” or “permissive,” Ockwell-Smith notes how gentle parenting often involves more discipline from the parents, since it requires them to “focus on making mindful decisions” and “role model” their own communication with patience, clarity, and self-control. Plus, she cautions, it can take years if not decades to show results.
“We have such a quick fix mentality in our society, largely due to the sensationalised parenting programmes we see on TV where a nanny comes in and turns the difficult behaviour around overnight, but real life isn’t like that,” Ockwell-Smith says. Instead, she says, gentle parenting is about helping kids become well-adjusted over time.
“It feels like the start of a cultural shift,” says Melissa Stadler, a licensed social worker with The Gentle Parenting Institute (GPI), a nonprofit offering parents online and offline coaching and therapy. “So many families want to learn more positive, evidence-based practices, but they need information and support to practically sustain them.”
Because the approach is so new, Ockwell-Smith cautions that research specific to ‘gentle parenting’ is scarce. But she notes how similar disciplines like positive parenting—also premised on “nurturance, responsivity, age-appropriate expectations and mindfully set-and-reinforced boundaries”—boasts ample evidence, and could help justify the “gentle” concept’s growing popularity.“A very diverse range of developmental outcomes”
The search for evidence-based parenting began several decades ago, when an Australian graduate student named Matthew Sanders had a hunch that such a field, then largely unheard of, was sorely needed; if poor parenting, he reasoned, was linked with negative public health outcomes, could good parenting produce positive public health outcomes?
Sanders would spend 40 years studying thousands of families to find out. His first attempt came in the early 1980s, when he piloted a home coaching model for parents of preschool-age children with oppositional behavior issues, using the early tenets of positive parenting. Even then, the results were promising; children of trained families showed reductions in deviant behavior.
“Parenting has been shown to influence a very diverse range of developmental outcomes in children—their language, social skills, peer relationships, academic accomplishments, avoidance of crime and substance abuse,” says Sanders, who now serves as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Queensland. “Yet we give nowhere near the degree of emphasis that’s required to equip parents well to do this task.”
To counter that imbalance, Sanders expanded the home-based model into Triple P:a population-level, public health intervention led by schools, clinics, and governments around the world. When designing the program in 2001, Sanders knew he had to be careful not to “preach” about what parents had been doing wrong, and instead empower them with better strategies.
[Related: The best apps for overworked parents]
He grouped those strategies into five key principles, supporting parents to create a safe and engaging environment—a home where kids have their basic nutrition, sleep, and hygiene needs met; promote a positive learning environment—reinforcing a tone of encouragement over harshness; use assertive discipline—shifting from coercive strategies to ones that help children understand appropriate (and inappropriate) behavior; maintain reasonable expectations—establishing what children should (and should not) be able to do, based on their level of development; and take care of themselves, too.
“Sometimes parents don’t realize that their own attention is very powerful, and that if they have to yell to get their kid to do something, it rewards the parent’s escalation,” Sanders explains. “So we try to teach parents how to self-regulate so they can then teach their children those skills.”
In 20 years of conducting Triple P in nearly forty countries, the 500-plus studies— including more than 175 randomized controlled trials—show great success; parents who have taken Triple P display increased competence, reduced dysfunction, and improved self-esteem, while children exhibit less misbehavior, greater positive affect, and a lower likelihood of externalizing problems. Randomized trials, too, find statistically significant reductions in child maltreatment and improvements in parental wellbeing, among other outcomes.
[Related: The best ages for kids to learn to read, speak new languages, and other skills]
Despite Triple P’s robust evidence base, Sanders acknowledges its imperfections; he says the quality of any parenting intervention naturally depends on the quality of the person leading it, not to mention the attention level of the parents taking it.
But then there’s the bigger question of access: making sure that families most in-need of support can actually get it. As social media swoops in to help—amplifying tidbits of these tried-and-true theories to new audiences in new formats—Sanders worries that “popular opinion” may overshadow the science underlying them. And while he appreciates the similarities positive parenting and gentle parenting share, he says it’s crucial for the latter to develop its own unique evidence base if it’s to become widely accepted.“Parents are talking to each other in a way they never did before”
“Over the last 10 years, parents have started to talk to each other in a way they never really did before, and in doing so, they’re starting to realize that the ‘traditional parenting practices’ being suggested to them are creating power struggles, tantrums, and a sense that they have to constantly be imposing some infinitely escalating consequences,” says Melissa Stadler, the therapist with GPI.
But when she heard about gentle parenting in a book, she immediately loved its emphasis on “maximizing connection between parent and child,” and started a Facebook group with other psychology professionals to help spread the gentle approach. “All of these parents are finally saying to each other, ‘well, if [our child] conflicts are arising from an unmet need, what if we just met that need?”
[Related: Yes, little kids should do chores. Here’s how to get them started.]
Still, Stadler says, while GPI doesn’t turn people with financial barriers away from their services, it’s not lost on her that privilege plays a tremendous role in determining which families can actually follow the gentle parenting strategies, which often take more time and patience than “traditional” ones.
“When you’re working three jobs and you’re exhausted and don’t know if you’re gonna be able to pay your rent this month, it’s harder to keep your cool when your toddler is melting down,” she says. “Not everyone has equal access to the support that it takes to parent gently, and as long as that’s the case, it means certain kids don’t have equal access to the kinds of outcomes gentle parenting produces.”
The same is true for Hernandez, now a grandmother, who started a “Gentle Parenting” Facebook group four years ago. What started as a humble resources forum intended mainly for her daughter and work clients has evolved into an active online community, where, nearly every hour, parents ask questions, share tips, and affirm one another through doubts and frustrations.
But when she thinks about her childhood, and how her father—a survivor of extreme child abuse—fought to pass laws ending parental violence, she’s proud, too, of the gentle parenting successes that hit closer to home.
“I’ll see my daughter ask her daughter if she wants to take a nap or a bath, and if her daughter says no, she just says ‘Okay,” Hernandez says. “”It’s just really nice to see them developing that relationship through trust and confidence, and how being open to new ways of raising our kids has made a difference through the generations.”
We collected some of the best social media campaigns from 2023 and 2023 and analyzed how they could have been improved with personalization tactics.
We’ve seen some cool ones, but let’s dig deeper!
Social media sites like Facebook personalize their visitor’s experience in almost every possible way. They try to understand who their visitors are and what type of content would delight them in order to provide a better experience.The Last Selfie
The campaign was much more successful than expected. WWF originally intended to reach millennials with the photos, but in the end, their message reached a much wider audience. The pictures were seen by 120 million Twitter users in one week, which is half of all active users on that social media site.How to make it better?
This exceptional campaign could have been more moving if they showed pictures of animals that likely appealed to the users. Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible in all cases. But at least on Facebook, where the pictures were also shared many times, the portraits of the animals could have been matched with the activities or countries that the users are attached to. So for example, WWF could have shown tigers to extreme sports lovers and pandas to tai chi fans.Band of Brands
Newcastle Brown Ale tried to crowdsource its TV ad for the most important American football event of 2023.
“Lacking the $4.5 million needed to buy 30 seconds of Big Game airtime, Newcastle decided to take a cue from the sharing economy that’s made Kickstarter, Uber, Airbnb,and Citi Bikeso popular. Our plan was simple. We’d essentially sell ad space in our ad, asking 20 to 30 scrappy brands like ours to pitch in for airtime with us, and then cram all 20 to 30 of those brands into one Big Game ad,” Newcastle wrote about its idea.How to make it better?
Many people follow or like brands on Facebook. Based on interests or a friend’s taste, it’s also possible to predict if a brand would appeal to someone who didn’t interact with it before. The participating companies could have created different versions of the ad and shown their own versions to their fans and people who had a higher chance to engage with them.Whole Foods
Thanks to the recently introduced autoplay function, videos now play a more important role in Facebook marketing than ever before. Maybe this is the reason why Whole Foods Market, an American supermarket chain that specializes in organic food, decided to post short how-to videos on its Facebook page a few months ago.
Most of the videos are about preparing healthy dishes, and some contain practical tips for people who love cooking. The videos became popular among the fans of the supermarket chain quickly, and many of them were played more than 10,000 times since then.How to make it better?
Many people share information on Facebook about their food preferences. For example, a few years ago one of the most popular Facebook pages in Hungary was about a chocolate bar, and it still has 929,000 fans.
Whole Foods Market could have increased engagement if it analyzed people’s eating habits, and instead of showing the same videos to every fan, it displayed videos accordingly. What better to greet you on Facebook than your favorite dish?Bud for buds
Budweiser created a Facebook promotion that let you buy a beer for a friend even if you couldn’t meet personally. The brand developed an app for the campaign and partnered with several bars and restaurants that accepted the coupons sent through the app.
“Beer is the original social network… Whether you’re toasting your birthday, a job promotion, an engagement, or simply the end of a long work week, we want to encourage everyone to bridge the physical and digital worlds by allowing you to send your friend a beer over Facebook,” said Lucas Herscovici, Anheuser-Busch vice president of consumer connection about the initiative in a press release.
It turned out that people like the idea of receiving beers on Facebook. Nearly all coupons sent through the app were redeemed, and three times as many Budweiser beers were sold in the participating bars than before.How to make it better? Beyond Utility How to make it better?
No enemy weapon has confounded U.S. military planners over the last decade like Improvised Explosive Devices. IEDS have been around in some form since the invention of explosives, and were deployed in World War II, Vietnam, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Only in the past 11 years, though, with the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, have IEDS gone from just one of many concerns in hostile territory to a central threat; at one point IEDS caused the majority of military fatalities in both Iraq and Aghanistan.
The U.S. pulled out of Iraq in 2011 and plans to leave Afghanistan by 2014. Nevertheless, the Obama administration remains concerned about IEDS. Groups like al Qaeda in Iraq learned how to make better IEDs in Iraq, and that skill is now in the hands of al Qaeda affliates like the al Nusrah Front in Syria. What’s to say that IEDs won’t make their way onto U.S. soil?
Last week the Obama administration released a new, comprehensive strategy for countering IEDs. This is just the latest in a long series of strategic adaptations to IED use, but it is notable because it’s both broader and less militarily-focused than previous initiatives.
The new strategy cites the underwear bomber and the foiled shipping crate plot as ways that IED attacks could come home. To counter such a threat–posed by rogue individuals or small groups, not nations–the new strategy take a broad approach. A key component is information-sharing between intelligence agencies, government organizations, and vulnerable parts of the private sector. Combine that with new technological fixes–better IED screening and detection technologies, for instance–and you have something that resembles nothing so much as the Obama administration’s new cyber-security strategy. Which makes sense–both deal with attacks that are at least as likely to target businesses as the military, and neither challenge can be solved by technology alone.
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization JIEDDO was created on Valentine’s Day in 2006 and was tasked with finding a comprehensive strategy to combat IEDs. The organization–made up of assorted military officials–found an answer in an unusual place. General Meigs, in charge of JIEDDO, had studied World War II submarine warfare and found that it was remarkably similar to modern-day IED warfare: unseen assailants targeted subs traveling known routes. During World War II, the U.S. military trotted out numerous technological fixes, but none could solve the problem alone. The military finally defeated submarine attacks by coordinating naval and merchant vessels, using aircraft to attack submarines, and compiling tremendous data sets on submarine attacks, which scientists were able to analyze to better determine attack patterns and appropriate responses.
The new Counter-IED strategy brings those lessons back to the United States, removing them from the narrow confines of an army at war and putting them to work in the broader context of domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies working against terrorism. JIEDDO isn’t mentioned in the Obama administration’s documents–the counter-IED efforts will be coordinated by the Joint Program Office for Countering IEDs, a new interagency group administered by the Attorney General through the FBI. What we learned from fighting IEDs abroad was that we had to think beyond just one piece of tech or one kind of task to fight the problem. This new strategy takes that lesson one step further, putting counter-IED efforts under the Attorney General, and creating a broad, whole-of-government approach to defeating them at home.
Some social media-content is easy to evaluate. Cute cat pictures? Great. Helpful how-to videos? Perfect. Unfortunately, parsing posts gets a lot more complicated when the content flowing through the tubes of social media involves news. Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee brought in representatives from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to discuss the companies’ policies and practices for evaluating and moderating content (mostly political in nature) and the internet scourge that is fake news.
During the hearing, Facebook’s rep, Monika Bickert, mentioned that the company revamped its process for users to appeal when their posts are removed from the site. The company is halfway into what it considers a three-year plan to address the spread of false information and figure out its tactics for identifying things like hate speech and propaganda. No one likes having their content moderated or removed, so we followed up with each company to find out what recourse users have in the case of a deletion.Facebook
Earlier this year, Facebook publicly published its community guidelines, which it uses internally to decide when and how to moderate content. To go along with this disclosure, the company also revamped its method for allowing users to appeal when their posts get removed from the service.
As part of the GDPR, consumers have the right to an explanation about how and why an algorithm made a decision. While the appeal process—with a real human!—is a positive step in terms of content regulation, you shouldn’t expect a full-on hearing or a chance to argue your case in some grand Law & Order fashion. Rather a person will look at your request and let you know whether or not your content fits the community guidelines.
Here’s how to appeal a YouTube take down
You’ll have to dig into your account to appeal YouTube’s initial decision.YouTube
You can check out YouTube’s community guidelines on this page to see what kind of content will or won’t get your video removed from the service. Predictably, YouTube also has a video version that explains the top-level concepts of what will get your reel taken down.
When YouTube believes you’ve violated the guidelines, you’ll receive a strike on your account that will appear in messages with an explanation of why it took that action. If you want to appeal the removal, you’ll have to actively request it by digging into the menus.
Like with Facebook, once you file an appeal, a human member of the community team will review the video to see if the violation will stand.
Once the YouTube team member makes their decision, there are four possible outcomes:
If we find that your video did not violate our Community Guidelines, we’ll reinstate it and remove the strike from your account. In some instances, it’s possible that we may remove the strike from your account, but keep the video down. In some instances, it’s possible that we may reinstate your video behind an age restriction. This will happen if a violation is not found, but the content isn’t appropriate for all audiences.
If we find that your video was in violation of our Community Guidelines, we will uphold the strike and the video will remain down from the site.
Before you appeal your removal, however, you should take a moment to carefully read the Community Guidelines as well as the the Policy page because if YouTube rejects your appeal, you won’t be able to appeal again for 60 days.Twitter
YouTube and Facebook’s process for removed posts are fairly simple, but Twitter’s are slightly more complicated. The service typically handles abuse or other bad behavior by temporarily or permanently banning entire accounts, rather than removing or suppressing single Tweets.
The Twitter Rules page outlines what the service does and does not find acceptable, but the examples and the guidlines aren’t quite as specific as Facebook’s or Youtube’s.
Twitter uses AI systems to immediately detect some tweets that contain harassing language or what it considers hate speech. Those tweets may result in a user’s account losing some functionality, like restricting replies and tweet visibility to only their followers.
There is an appeal process for getting a suspended account reinstated, but the link can be difficult to locate. You can find it here. The fields give you an opportunity to explain your actions and make a case to a human reviewer, whocan decide whether or not to give you back a fully-functioning account.
One of the biggest shifts we’ve since seen in the last year for social media marketing has been the increasing use of international campaigns. This is not very surprising when you consider how globalized our economy has become and the fact that US companies are voraciously spreading their brands to new territories for easy profits. Mirroring this trend is the online move for social media to spread people’s awareness in new territories as well as handle support and complaints efficiently overseas.
The statistics are clear: Around 80% of Facebook’s users are outside the US and Canada and roughly 70% of Twitter’s user base too. This just goes to show how many people are currently being left out in the cold.
The real challenge here is to tackle the situation exactly the same way you would back home; with people deep inside your organization who speak the language and understand the culture. This is essential to build social media trust and will prevent anyone on the receiving end of your messages feeling like they were just an afterthought in a cold, corporate strategy drummed up in a board meeting.
Perhaps most importantly, you need to ask yourself whether or not your campaigns should even be ported overseas at all. Not every country or territory is going to be receptive to your brand, product, message or service. So be selective and make sure you can dominate the space before you enter it. This can be a daunting process since campaigns launched in the States not only have to be localized for each market, but sometimes they have to be scrapped and thrown out altogether. If you are doing a Super Bowl social media promotion for example, how would you translate the term ‘Super Bowl’ from English to Swahili so people will know you’re talking about a sporting event and not some amazing dish you’re dying to cook for them?
Then there’s the challenge of meeting them on their own home turf. While Facebook and Twitter seem to be popular in most countries, others are dominated by completely different platforms like Orkut, Tuenti or VKontakte. These will have to be leveraged, and, in some cases, even learned to meet your target demographics where they are.
Of course many products have strange crossover appeal too. For example, video games are mainly popular with younger boys in the States, but in many Asian countries certain games are just as popular with girls. Can you be sure your product will be accurately represented in each territory?
The Topic of Translation
Here are some examples how Starbucks and Uniqlo are doing all this and dominating with their campaigns…
Starbucks is one of the undisputed kings of social media. They have such an authoritative brand presence that they don’t necessarily need the social media to enhance their brand but they still use it as an effective tool to communicate with their customers. Interestingly enough, most of Starbucks’ tweets start with an apology. While other companies like to sweep problems under the rug to look good, Starbucks goes out of their way to encourage customers to tweet their problems so they can solve them.
A very mature approach.
They even have their own mini social network if you will, called My Starbucks Idea. This is a stroke of pure genius. It allows anyone to post ideas they would like to see incorporated into the company and then everyone can vote on them. Starbucks then follows up on the ideas with their blog to keeping people informed about what they’re doing with it. This not only gives the chain priceless ideas and feedback, but it also fosters a culture of customers feeling appreciated.
A huge win/win!
Starbucks is the benchmark for how everyone should be using social media.
While Starbucks is the king in the food world, Uniqlo is making big strides in the clothing industry. For each country they have a presence in, they have dedicated unique social media accounts for each. They want to ensure that each territory’s profile is a tailored, accurate reflection of the needs and issues that come up. In the US for example, they have 528,000 Google +1s, while in the UK their numbers pale in comparison with only 270. In China they have a strong presence on Renren because it is so incredibly popular. They keep their content very local and highly relevant and their levels of engagement vary drastically from country to country too, which is to be expected.
The Challenges Ahead
Like any new space, technology or undertaking, there are bound to be some major hurdles and perhaps even disastrous mistakes ahead – just like we’ve seen with so many big brands in the last year.
So the questions that need to be addressed are: how do you plan to meet the varied needs of people speaking different languages and spread across multiple time zones? How do you align your social media marketing strategies as per the needs and priorities of different markets worldwide?
This is something many brand managers and social media marketers are thinking about right now. So any brave entrepreneur out there that wants to tackle the space with a smart solution, now is your time to dive right in. I’ll applaud you and most probably be one of your first customers.
Key Points to Keep in Mind when Handling Social Media on a Global Scale:
1. One account vs. Multiple Accounts – Should you have one social media account to cater to your global audience or should you create different accounts based on the country you’re present in? Should these accounts be handled centrally or should you appoint native account managers for each region? Native account managers have more of an inkling of what would and wouldn’t work in their geography. Organizations thus need to create a flexible framework that’s practical and mentions clearly who needs to do what and when.
2. Being Careful With Translations – There have been quite a few marketing blunders committed by companies when promoting their products. Pepsi, KFC, Coca Cola in China, Parker Pens in Mexico… the list is endless. You do not want to depend on literal translations or translations that have not been proofread by a native of that language.
When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
KFC experienced some real problems when its phrase “Finger Lickin Good” came out in Chinese as “Eat your fingers off”
Parker Pens tag line – “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” when translated in Mexico came out to be – “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”.
Important Tip for Marketers – Be aware of the nuances and differences in each culture. A small mistake can turn out to be a huge blunder and embarrassment for the company worldwide. Avoid relying too much on Google Translate to create local language content.
3. Fragment your Markets – Treat each market individually; don’t assume reactions and responses will be the same to a common campaign you may decide to run. A campaign that’s successful in UK may not succeed in Spain, Portugal, France or Belgium. Understand the traits and act accordingly.
For example – If your target is Singapore you need to take care of the fact that Singapore audiences are made up of people from India, China, Malaysia etc. Hence keep a check on different races, religions and beliefs. You don’t want to put up any content that’s offensive in nature to any of those communities.
4. Dealing with a Crisis – Make clear guidelines on what action to take in times of a crisis. Define issues that can be handled by the social media team or if it has to be escalated to the top management. Ensure you have a Plan B ready always.
5. Connect With Your Audience – Make your audience a part of your conversation. Ask them for suggestions, creative ideas, tips and tricks on how you can make your offerings better. While this would apply to even a local social media campaign you run, it’s even more important to do when operating things on a global scale because it’s very easy to get lost and carried away with your own assumptions of what your audience is looking at without really connecting with them and finding out directly.
6. You will make mistakes, learn and adapt – It’s difficult to handle the intricacies of international social media campaigns without making a blunder or two. Accept that it might just happen and be ready on to quickly recover/adapt.
While it’s still a big mystery and very little is known about international social media marketing, there’s an exciting future ahead for sure. But either way the same rules apply with complete transparency and honesty being the name of the game. When in doubt or if someone makes a mistake, just politely own up, say sorry and move on. It works just as well in any language.
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