How to manage and engage with an international audience via social media
Expanding overseas can cause complications for social media teams, especially if you’re working across different time zones. Fashion brand River Island expanded its ecommerce offering into the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, giving its social team a new set of challenges. Social Media Editor, Emma Goble gives her advice on overcoming the obstacles of international markets, and effectively engaging with a new and varied audience.
As with any social media campaign, you need to plan posts meticulously, rather than sporadically posting as an afterthought. Define what you want to achieve with your audience and set a goal for you to work towards. Before you start any campaign:
- Define your audience
- Set a clear goal
- Decide on the messages you want to present
Make sure that you note popular holidays and events in your industry in each territory or country so that you can join in the conversation. It is also worth researching the most effective platforms in different countries, as not all countries favour Facebook and Twitter. Instagram announced that it now has over 300 million users and many countries such as China use platforms that you may not have even heard of.
Creating content for a global audience
All River Island’s followers have one thing in common: an interest in the brand and its offering. This common interest is a great starting point for your content ideas. Research your audience in all territories by testing different content mediums and topics. Whilst experimenting, keep referring to your analytics to see which posts are creating engagement, and where.
To successfully engage with your audience, storytelling is key. Take a product or trend, and put it into context that resonates. Adidas’ ‘Brazuca ball’ Twitter feed is a great example of storytelling. Adidas set up a separate Twitter feed for the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and made it into a character. Throughout the world cup the personified Brazuca “updated” its Twitter page with match updates and pictures with famous footballers. Overall the account gained 3 million global followers which isn’t too bad for a football.
Facebook is a great tool for targeting people by specific location or language, so our French team can send out posts in French rather than English to better engage with that audience. It’s fantastic for celebrating public holidays in different countries as well. For example, Australia recently celebrated Australia Day and we were able to involve bloggers in an Australia Day guide and send it out to our Aussie audience.
If you are working across different time zones or even across a number of platforms there are so many free tools you can use to schedule posts. Facebook even has its own feature that you can use to schedule your updates. The only drawback to working across different time zones is that the immediacy of replying is limited so it might be worth hiring an external company in that country to monitor your social media.
We all know social media is an effective tool but you need to approach it in the right way. Do your research, get to know your audience and explore different platforms before implementing any global strategy.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”