The Global, Digital, Social Imperative: Conversations Matter, Are You Listening?

I will never forget a PR/social media mentor and now CEO of a big PR agency who would Google client info just ahead of a pitch. Invariably he would find a nugget of dirt or alarming post by a consumer, client, competitor or key influencer to slip into the pitch. He also had a stash of viral consumer generated brand blasts for extra emphasis.  This almost up-to-the-minute, in-your-face social media snapshot would often be the one that clients spent the most time referring to in the discussion. The interesting point is that he would do this in New York as easily as he did it in Tokyo, Paris or Sao Paulo.
The message is consistent and simple: Conversations matter. They are both local and global. They are worth listening to and acting on.

More global companies are adapting integrated social media as part of their corporate strategy. A key challenge remains how to convince the C-Suite to the importance of investing in it from a position of strength, before crisis response mode becomes urgent.

4 Building Blocks
1. Integration Mindset: interconnect global corporate information silos in marketing, customer service, HR. If a customer in Beijing can interact via Facebook or Twitter with a fashion brand in Paris and NY show how the brand’s marketing department and customer service can interact with her as quickly as she can with the brand.
2. Listen, Monitor, Respond: set up a corporate digital dashboard. Let everyone see it: Corporate members, employees. Language issues can be overcome by building in translation engines and setting up priority issues management response scenarios on the dashboards for key global managers.
3. Training: Set up a CEO and employee digital bootcamp. Get the rest of the organization on. Employees need training, employers need patience and both need incentives to learn. There are a plethora of free online tools including videos and Webexs.
4. Start with small wins: Finance is not going to give you all the resources you need. You have to phase in your strategy to fit corporate objectives. For example, start with social listening or propose an analysis of best practices in social media. Or take your company’s Corporate Image and Employee handbooks and remodel these into a Global Social Media Use Guidebook. Or go for a little shock and awe. We did this with one client by showing how harmful for example it is for the brand to have 12 different look and feels for Facebooks in the 12 countries they sold to. We told the client ‘you would not do this in print why do this in social where more eyeballs are going and more conversations are taking place about your brand?’

Two Quick hits
1. Develop uniform corporate social media guidelines or code of ethics for your local and global marcoms team and employees in navigating how to use paid, owned and earned media. Some examples here.

2. Set up a social media dashboard about your company, products, people and issues that is integrated with the rest of your company’s marketing communications infrastructure. See the discussions here:



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