Yara Paoli is Social Marketing Manager, Europe and Apac, at Skyscanner. She’ll be among the speakers at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference on 18 July. She tells us about some of the challenges facing multinational brands seeking to create localised social media content
Is it always important to adopt a local approach to social media?
Yes, I believe it’s always important to at least consider and be familiar with the local culture, language, religion, country habits and seasonal trends. This will allow the social marketer to respect and tailor the strategy for the specific market, making sure that the global approach turns into something which is perceived as more personal and relevant. People tend to be proud of their nationality and their habits, despite the fact that they sometimes criticise them, so we need to take those into account while creating content and ideas for social marketing.
What are some of the specific cultural factors which marketers looking to create a multinational social strategy need to think about?
It depends on the product or service you are selling and on how original, edgy or creative you want to be while positioning your brand, but in general I would suggest carefully considering a number of factors.
Firstly, cultural. One needs to know about national habits, traditions, the educational system and the political situation. You need to understand the national sense of morality before promoting a brand in order to make sure that the brand itself respects the locals. Religion is a key aspect to consider. Things can really go wrong if it’s not taken into account properly, especially when creating some – in theory – internationally funny or amusing content. Evolutionary theory and jokes around that, for instance, can be perceived as immoral or profane or ignorant by religious groups who believe man was created by God.
Then there’s language itself. The point is expressed very well in the famous quote by former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who said, “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen.” Not only does a brand need to speak the local language, it also needs to localise its content – that includes understanding colloquialisms and thinking about the look and feel of the brand or product itself.
Can you share any specific examples?
Here are some taken from India, where English is widely used, but with local differences. In India people do not say ‘I go with you’ but ‘I come with you’. They do not use ‘take-away’ that much, but talk about ‘packing or parcelling the food’; ‘can you pack it for me?’ You need to know this if you’re advertising a take-away service. ‘Sun glasses’ are ‘cooling glasses.’ They use ‘cover’ instead of ‘envelope’. ‘Bathroom’ is used to mean both ‘toilet’ and ‘shower room’ and so on. Factors like these can determine how – and if – your sense of humour needs to be adapted and whether the message you want to deliver will be received as a fun one or whether it’s perceived as offensive or just not understood at all.
What advice do you have for brands who want to develop a strong multinational presence?
Research the market online and on-site and talk to real people. A very good reality check is having a meal with local people and letting them order. This will reveal plenty in terms of cultural differences and will teach you a lot.