The Power of “Local Social” for Global Brands

I have been throwing the ideas I’m about to spit out around in my head for almost a week. Spurred on by a great notion about the ridiculousness of “business hours” on Twitter and other social media as put forth by Jive’s Mike Fraietta – and also based on a conversation I had with Wim Rampen at the Brix CRM event put on with SugarCRM in Houten, Netherlands last week.

Wim and I were discussing the opportunities in Holland for social CRM, and apparently business is booming, so to speak. But what Wim pointed out was that many of the brands he is working with are ones we would easily recognize, and often use, here in the US. However, interestingly, Wim is only working with them to connect with customers in the Netherlands.

Hmmm. At first, I thought: “Why would a global brand want to think about s small country when it can scale to global levels without any major incremental investment in social?”

Then my puny brain kicked in to gear, and it all made sense. The fact that you do not have to spend a lot on local or global means that you can target MORE effectively in a social manner by staying local. I mean, after all, shouldn’t there actually be a “social” angle to all this? Does a huge, global campaign over social channels run the risk of being anything but social and simply a bland, watered down engagement strategy that has to take into account all cultures (and time zones)?

In marketing, we have been forced over the years to seek the biggest bang for our marketing buck. Segmentation was sought after, but only in a manner that was cost effective. Personalization – in my mind – is a myth for many B2C marketers.

But now, we can actually connect directly with customers and prospects in a two-way dialog on their terms, in their language (in every sense of that phrase), and in their regions – without spending a ton of resources to do so. And, to bring back Mike’s points – we can actually better follow up and respond to local social campaigns on the “human level” because we can dedicate proper resources to those campaigns to align with the more common “business hours” of those regions. (Though, as I’m sure Mike would agree – we should all be aiming for a round the clock approach to social engagement – though I don’t have too many answers here.)

The internet has enabled a lot of companies (us included) to go global in a time frame previously unthinkable. But now, it seems, we can use the internet to do the opposite. We can take global brands and make them relevant in key markets – with strong engagement strategies localized for those markets focusing on different buyer interests, needs or tastes – for the same effort we would use for a multi-channel mass marketing campaign.

3 thoughts on “The Power of “Local Social” for Global Brands

  1. Hey Martin,

    Thanks for mentioning me and driving the conversation to a further more in-depth level. I am realizing that my thread was a bit of a rant without real solutions proposed. šŸ™‚ The way you put it makes a lot sense, we need to focus locally while still having a global presence. Ideally, in the McDonald’s case, it would be great to see regional accounts monitoring their respective geographical territory. Actually, that’s not ideal. Ideal would be to have a employees behind the register monitoring and communicating with customers and potential customers in the restaurant and within the vicinity. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. How local can we go?

    Thanks again – Mike

    Mike Fraietta I Social Media Manager I Jive Software I @MikeFraietta I 215.596.9009

  2. I was just thinking about the problem of maintaining a truly authentic presence when you’re a very large company – essentially, you have to scale up intimate customer relationships, which are easy to nuture when you’re face to face with a few hundred customers but much more difficult to do when you’re dealing with thousands of customers you never meet. Maintaining authenticity becomes harder and harder the more removed you are from the customer, but going local allows a lot more common ground between the customers and companies and keeps the company’s input much more real and relevant. Good job of laying it out, Martin!

  3. Mike – great ideas there – the meshing of “social” with “in person” sounds almost like an oxymoron…but I think it is where we are headed. Global brands have a unique opportunity here to do both mass broadcast, global listening, and micro-geographic targeting all for very little cost thanks to the web and social. The smart brands will mix it up – using geolocation and other identification tools to help their retail associates reach out and amplify the experience in real time. Not there yet – but it’s happening. Mark Tamis has some really wild ideas about this that are worth checking out.

    Chris – Thanks for the kind words, and for reading! Again, I agree totally, and feel that the overhead apart from personnel in a “local social” scenario is close to zero – thus global brands have to evaluate these types of strategies to stay current and connected in all the markets they serve.

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