It almost seems redundant to call any of the social media tools, global. Anyone who has access to the internet (with a few exceptions) can access any other site, social network, conversation going on anywhere else in the world. Social media has made the world feel smaller than ever and one can engage in a conversation with just about anyone anywhere else in the world.
Large companies that have operations, customers and prospects all over the world need to have tailored community management strategies that account for these cultural and language differences. There is always a struggle between keeping community management centralized in order to deliver consistent messaging and delegating to local teams that can help address these differences. Whatever approach an organization may decide on, hiring a diverse community management team is key, be it local or abroad, to having the right combination of skill sets.
At this point we have all seen the various published studies and statistics showing us why we need to hire and build a more diverse workforce, but here are some of the ways it specifically helps when staffing a community management team:
- Language and Cultural Intricacies. There are many tools we can use to help us with a translation of languages foreign to us, and communicating with those that do not speak the same language, but the human factor is also important. In the age of bots, and auto responses customers want to know that they can reach a real person when engaging in the community. The need for diversity goes beyond language skills, it is also very important when addressing some of the subtle cultural differences when responding to community participants and providing content that is relevant to them. Sharing details about a product or service not available in a particular region would make the end user feel insignificant. A local community manager would not only be able to provide more region specific content but would also be able to collaborate with that user in their timezone delivering the content in a timely manner. Due to all sorts of budgetary and structural constraints, this may not be possible. One of the temporary workarounds would be to help encourage and/or create a local user group, establishing a few advocates who can help keep the enthusiasm going and share their expertise, until the organization is ready to make further investments in those regions.
- Innovation. This is always the top reason discussed when it comes to advocating for diversity. Individuals of different backgrounds, genders, experiences, skills, etc can all contribute to viewing the world in a different way and solving the problems in unique ways.
- Global Citizenship. Diverse teams lend an opportunity for all the members to learn from each other giving team members a sense of belonging to a global community. This exposure helps employees be more engaged, curious, aware and to develop sensitivities needed to succeed as the citizens of the globe professionally and personally; and this benefits both the internal and external community.
I do not believe that I have to go into greater detail as to why diverse community management team is the way to go. There are plenty of articles, blogs, and studies out there confirming this information, and so while this approach brings many great benefits, it comes with some complex challenges. People managers all struggle to make time to connect with their direct reports and continue to stay connected as they battle conflicting demands of a leader. This become exponentially more difficult when you have to factor in different time zones, language, and cultural barriers. In some parts of the world team members might not feel as comfortable disagreeing with a strategy in place or sharing their own ideas, as dictated by tradition and local customs. This may hinder one of the key benefits, innovation. With diversity come great demands, but there is no other way around it, so let’s just embrace it.
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