Today’s global companies face a host of content challenges. Without a solid foundation of content management, companies face risk to their workers’ efficiency, reputation among customers and overall global market success. Several factors are responsible.
For one, thanks to international, distributed workforces, internal communications are asynchronous. Different time zones and an increase in mobile workers mean that important business dialogues may happen at odd times. Without a place and platform to enable global collaboration, workers lose time and productivity searching for the right documents in order to keep up with the conversation.
Secondly, lack of a common language and cultural sensitivity can strongly affect internal business communications as well as communication to individual customer markets. According to a November 2008 Common Sense Advisory report, 70 per cent of users around the world prefer to visit websites in their own language. When companies don’t provide the content users want in the language they prefer, informal sources of information, such as blogs, become the main source of information about a business.
Companies need to learn to keep their customers and workforces satisfied in a variety of cultural contexts. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that happens on its own. Building the right foundation for successful global teams and markets not a matter of how much you do, but rather of doing the right things.
CMS, Social Business Software Saves the Day
The first step for organising multinational content chaos is installing a central platform that creates a unified online working environment. This could be a content management system (CMS) or social business software, any platform that puts the dizzying array of company communications into a central interface. Communications and documents can be collected in a single place, in the form of web pages, files, presentations, instant messages and more, enabling workers to collaborate across countries more easily. Needless to say, global content platforms also benefit external users, who can receive faster help and company communications without having to navigate a website intended for another country.
Curate, Don’t Control
Users in almost every country glean information from informal sources, such as blogs, forums or their friends on social media.
In some countries, those independent information sources are more credible than a company’s official content. Blogs tend to be more localised, and may contain more specific information for a particular market segment. I might be in China, for example, and research Adobe Flash on my favourite Chinese blog, choosing to bypass Adobe’s website entirely, because I trust the blog more as a source of unbiased information.
Businesses need to embrace this development. As soon as any company launches in another country, it inherently loses a little bit of control over the content process.
Going into foreign markets means that content becomes more of a curator/moderator situation, and that can be a good thing. When companies enable an open conversation, they open themselves to feedback about their product. Businesses can feed this customer response into their product development cycle, making improvements and underscoring responsiveness to customer demand. Being able to acknowledge and adapt to customer demand is key to global marketing.
Help from the Cloud
Thanks to the cloud, companies can now easily customise their best content for each of their international markets. Cloud-based Web analytics enable us to see who is consuming, sharing and discussing which content. We can then use a data-driven model to select what areas of websites should be localised. Today’s businesses need to consider a culturally sensitive approach to customer content, and this is one way to simplify adopting this approach.
For example, say you have a 100-page website, but your analytics tell you that people only ever visit 78 of those pages. Upon further inspection, you find out that people only read, share and discuss 18 of those pages. You can proactively choose to translate those 18 most important pages into another language, and leave the rest in English. Your return on investment (ROI) in terms of localisation immediately improves as a result.
The Three C’s
The cloud, curation and a CMS (or social business software) are the three main ingredients for your global content foundation. Together, they stave off a fourth “C,” namely, chaos. They ensure your communications stay smooth, your reputation among consumers improves and your content easily adapted to new markets. For any company with global content, the three C’s are, to make another alliteration, the clear answer.