How to Manage an International Community

January 26, 2015

11:00 pm

In today’s globally connected business world, many consumers and business decision makers find out about new products and services via conversations on social media and other online communities. Because of this trend, most growing international companies have community managers, all of which have certainly encountered some of the joys – and pitfalls – of community management.

Often, your existing customers or users are your best brand advocates. These customers share satisfying customer experiences with their friends, families and networks on social media, online forums and in person. However, it can often be daunting for community managers to keep up with feedback and questions – whether positive or negative – in the online community, especially with such conversations taking place around the world in different languages.

Community managers are on the front lines helping customers engage with and understand your brand. In order to maintain positive customer relationships, here are four rules for community managers to live by:

Remember, global impact requires a local touch.

As you expand your offering to new geographies, it’s tempting to stick with the strategy you know and attempt a simple implementation to other regions. While straight translations offer significant advantages in cost and communication, they are quite often confusing and ineffective.

The most successful brands are truly immersed in the markets they operate in. When it comes to managing international communities, localization, rather than translation, is key. Create a comprehensive team of community managers that not only speak the local language for the regions they manage, but try to find teams who grew up in those regions and understand the local market and culture. These community managers can offer a hyperlocal strategy in which they determine the initiatives that show the most success in each region, and implement the appropriate strategy that will match the local culture.

Tap into the community for crowdsourcing.

Tap into community to collect statistics on key trends in your target industries. Survey freelancers about their salary and work habits. This information will allow you to better understand your core audience and share valuable information with others in the industry.

Crowdsourced feedback is equally as important to crowdsourced trends. By collecting feedback from target customers, your brand can improve its overall operations and increase customer satisfaction. This feedback can relate to your brand’s product or service or offer customers the opportunity to share their opinions on new company logos, taglines and more.

Incent brand advocates with a referral program.

While your biggest brand advocates may not need an incentive to provide feedback and engage new customers, a referral program can serve as the nudge everyone else needs to participate in the online community. For example, offering a small dollar amount to each person who refers a new customer serves as a starting point for customers to increasingly share information about your brand across social networks.

Look for opportunities to take the conversation offline.

At Payoneer, we host real-world events in our different geographies. We empower our biggest brand advocates by making them our local brand ambassadors, and work with them to fit each event to the local economy and culture. By engaging with people in their own backyard, community managers can create a more personal connection between the customer and brand.

Community management as a job role is still in its infancy and is as much art as it is science. By following these four rules, community managers can attract new customers while building lasting relationships and creating brand advocates with their current customers.

What other tips do you have for managing an international community? Let me know in the comments below.

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Nissim Alkobi is head of community at Payoneer, an international company empowering global commerce by connecting businesses, professionals, countries and currencies through its cross-border payments platform.

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