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Challenges for International Communities: Report from #CMAD 2014

As you most likely know, it was Community Manager Appreciation Day on January 27, and My Community Manager organised the second of their round-the-clock Google Hangout panels.

I took part in the panel covering the challenges Community Managers face when managing international communities. This is an area of growth which is becoming something many brands will need to focus on in 2014 and beyond.

During the session, we discussed the challenges of running effective global multilingual communities, and how brands should approach setting up multicultural community teams.

The line-up:

Antonio Santos (@akwyz), Cloud Community Member at Atos International chaired the panel.

I joined the following:

We were also due to be joined by Sebastiaan Mathias (@smathiassCommunity Manager at ALD Automotive but sadly due to technical issues he was unable to participate.

You can watch the full session here:

If you don’t have time to listen to the entire panel, here’s some key highlights:

Understand the motivation

People’s motivations to engage with your brands are different for each territory. There are plenty of cultural considerations, as well as nuanced translation issues when localising messaging for a specific country.  For example, are all your products available in all your territories? Do the brand names vary? Even though your consumers may speak the same language, there are still subtle differences in territories - the US vs Canada, Portugal vs Brazil or even California vs New York - that you need to account for. That said, a centralised cultural knowledge-base can be very helpful, as well as regular team meetings to sense-check that your messaging and engagement is culturally relevant.

Multilingual community management is on the rise

There is a great benefit to being multilingual when you're working as a Community Manager, as it brings a deeper appreciation of multiple cultures. In the future it will become more important for CMs to speak multiple languages and understand the grass roots of those cultures. Yes, there are challenges to managing multilingual teams but organisations can overcome these challenges through efficient and effective processes - staggered sessions for example, or platform-specific shifts.

24/7 cover

You don’t necessarily need 24/7 resource coverage for every country. Examine what times your community is busy and where, and manage expectations. However, you may need 24/7 resource coverage within your team to manage those peak periods and different timezones.

Don't forget local language networks - including what's banned

When selecting which social networks to be active on, you need to take into account territory-specific ones such as Vkontakte in Russia, Qzone in China and Xing in Germany. You also need to know which social networks are banned - for example, Facebook in Vietnam. Some networks are also inaccessible remotely, for example Mixi in Japan currently only allows Japanese mobile phone users to register.

Hopefully this gave you an overview of CMAD’s Challenges for International Communities. 

And don’t forget to check out the other panels from #CMAD 2014 here.

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