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Emoderation: How to manage social media at scale


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Tamara Littleton, CEO, and Blaise Grimes-Viort, VP of Social Media Services, at Emoderation explain how to successfully launch, manage and run global social media campaigns for multinational brands. Head of Languages, Richard Simcott, explains the difference between translation and localisation, while Wendy Christie, Chief Production Officer, advises on quality assurance processes for major social media projects.

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Emoderation: How to manage social media at scale

  1. 1. Managing social media at scale An Emoderation white paper How do companies successfully manage multiple brands on several social media channels across global territories in different languages, 24/7? Emoderation’s social media experts explain how. August 2014 Authors: Tamara Littleton, Blaise Grimes-Viort, Wendy Christie, Richard Simcott
  2. 2. 2 Table of contents Running a global project 3 Global versus local 8 Localising the creative themes and tackling implementation 9 Content optimisation and standardisation 10 Communications and management tools to support large scale campaigns 11 Resourcing a large scale social media programme or campaign 12 Get the right tools in place 13 Set goals, and invest in training 13 Set aside enough time and resource for quality checks 13 Work out the right escalation processes 14 Think in languages, not countries 15 The importance of cultural fluency 16 Summary 17 Emoderation’s experts 18
  3. 3. 3 Running a global project Tamara Littleton, CEO, Emoderation, explains how global brands, teams and agencies can work effectively together to deliver successful social media campaigns. Social media is now a vital part of the marketing and communications mix for consumer-facing brands: critical to reputation management; a game-changer for customer service; and one of the most effective ways of marketing a product to a wide audience. But for it to be effective, the way a brand manages its social media presences must fit with wider branding and value guidelines, and be consistent across countries, languages and sub-brands. For multinational corporations with millions of customers, fans and followers on social media, that’s a huge task. The challenge is: how do you personalise your responses on social media across hundreds of territories, in multiple languages, to millions of fans, and still main- tain the values, style, quality and tone of voice of the brand? I believe that management of social media should be a partnership between a brand, its agencies and its social media team. Effective so- cial media takes a global approach for consistency and governance, but has enough flexibility to allow localised content and personalised responses in each country or geographical region. Running a global project
  4. 4. 4 How do we start? Establishing the partnership between the global brand team, its agencies and Emoderation is the first step to successfully managing your social media campaign on a global scale. In this white paper, some of Emoderation’s experts give their advice on how to structure a social media campaign and presence across multiple territories; how to allocate resource and ensure top quality results; and how to ensure consistency across multiple languages.
  5. 5. 5 Blaise Grimes-Viort, Emoderation’s VP of Social Media Services, looks at how to structure a social media campaign on a global scale. This is done using the hub and spoke model. Client Global Team Client Local Team Local implementation of global strategy Localise strategy Local content creation Report to global team via Project Manager Set overall objectives Create strategy Define brand guidelines Client Local Team Ensure objectives being met Ensure local content adheres to brand guidelines Point of contact between global and local teams Emoderation Local Team Emoderation Project Manager Emoderation Project Manager Emoderation Local Team Emoderation Local Team Client Local Team
  6. 6. 6 The hub (central) team The hub is the centralised management of your social media programme. This is where your strategy is set (and managed), and where the basis of an implementation programme is created. Overall ownership will sit with the brand but external agencies may also consult on strategy, creative ideas and the principles of implementation. Within the centralised hub should sit: Overall strategy and objectives. What is the big picture approach to social media? What are you using social media to achieve? What are the desired goals (and are they measurable)? Is it reputation management, marketing, customer service, customer loyalty, sales – or a combination of these? Creative themes. What are the creative concepts and assets that you will use to support your strategy? Is your social media part of an integrated media campaign? Are you launching a new product or unveiling a seasonal promotion? Brand guidelines for social media. These will include: use of the brand name and logo; vision and mission statement (and how this translates to social media); brand personality; tone of voice; use of imagery; and copywriting style. These will often be produced by the client in partnership with a creative or strategic agency. Standardised reporting. Templates for effective reporting for all the countries. This will help you evaluate and compare data from each of your local markets. Management. The central team should be available to support and guide the local team to deliver best practice where required.
  7. 7. 7 The spokes (local) team The spokes are the local teams in each region, responsible for implementing the strategy created by the hub. Within the spokes will sit: Localisation of the creative themes that you set centrally. This includes creation of local content or translation of central content that is then checked against the central brand guidelines for that product or service. Implementation of the social media strategy, including levels of moderation and frequency of engagement. Quality assurance checks and processes. Escalation processes and guidance on types of escalation. Measurement of performance against the centrally agreed objectives and goals.
  8. 8. 8 Global versus local While you can set strategy, approach, tone and best practice centrally, localisation ensures you deliver the best results for your target audience in that market. Legislation will also vary from country to country. This is particularly true for heavily regulated industries such as financial services, pharma or alcohol brands, and if you are marketing to children or teenagers. To successfully localise your social media, you need local community management teams, who are both linguistically and culturally fluent in the local language (more on that from Richard Simcott later in this paper). Your teams also need to be trained on relevant local legisla- tion or escalation processes. Those teams will work more efficiently if they’re working with a local business team which handles sales and marketing for that territory. So, the principles of engagement, guidelines and direction of the social media campaign should be given from the hub, and local territories allowed the autonomy to implement the central structure, to make it relevant with local insight and information. Structuring a team for a global-scale project Each local team needs a project leader, who is the point of contact between both the global team and the local team (see hub and spoke diagram on page 5). The project leader will look at whether the campaign is achieving the overall objective of the campaign and make key decisions on what needs tweaking or what training is needed, for example. Localisation is more than translation. There will be local cultural issues or nuances – humour doesn’t always travel well, for example – and relevance to a specific market that must be taken into account.
  9. 9. 9 Localising creative themes and tackling implementation While most of the creative strategy and themes are set by the brand itself or its relevant agencies, those themes will also need local content creation, which in turn needs checking against the global guidelines. Each spoke team should be responsible for advising on whether the central creative approach will work for local markets. They can work with the central team to devise a new territory-specific campaign where appropriate. Emoderation takes the creative themes developed by the agency, and we create content pillars, exploring the thematic avenues to define topics and ideas for engagement. Then, we create an editorial calendar that specifies how frequently to post, what channels to post on and so on, and we create content against that narrative journey. Four key activities that inform feedback from the local market to the standardised central model: 1. Content Is there content that works across all markets? 2. Engagement Is there a standard answer to reduce escalations 3. Moderation Is the standard moderation time right across all markets 4. Social Listening Are there any similar issues across all markets that need adressing in the standardised model? Is there an action against a policy point that’s aggravating people, and if so, should policy be changed?
  10. 10. 10 Content optimisation and standardisation This model of optimisation can be set centrally, but the variations have to be relevant locally. Once the programme is underway, you need to look at content that can be standardised based on data from your local ‘spoke’ teams. If you analyse data from local engagement, you start to identify com- mon themes which can then be rolled out to new regions. Answering the following questions will help you define elements that can be standardised: Are there pain points common to all regions? Do particular types of content work really well across all regions? Are there common questions in all territories that could be more efficiently answered with a standard response? Is there an adverse reaction against a central policy – for example, product or service charges or a change to popular branding – that aggravates the community and needs to be changed? Answers to these questions should be fed back into the central hub so the overall strategy can be updated. Next, we look at content optimisation. For example: what are the best times to post for your community, within your region and to fit your brand objectives?
  11. 11. 11 Communications and management tools Performance management: a project which takes in 20 or 30 territories and which has 80+ community managers working on it is like running a large department. You’ll need internal technical solutions and support for that project just as you would for a large, geographically dispersed team which needs to collaborate and communicate with each other. You’ll need somewhere central where you can store all your project insights – cultural knowledge, content ideas, milestones and resourc- ing schedules – in one place. You can use this information alongside your campaign metrics to help measure the success of your project against your objectives, and compare the performance of different countries. There are numerous tools available to help you manage projects internally. What these tool providers offer is changing all the time, so you need to keep a close eye on what’s out there. Wendy Christie explains how Emoderation uses social collaboration tools to help keep teams on track later in this white paper. Social listening: Social listening tools are used to monitor both the social web and your owned communities, allowing you to extract information about what people are saying about your brand, analyse it, and make changes where necessary. The listening tool you choose should be able to differentiate between direct abuse (“I hate you, BRAND”) and indirect abuse (“I hate BRAND”), as well as accurately determining sentiment, emotion and intent (“I really want to have a pair of XX jeans” or “I’m going to buy a pair of XX jeans”). Again, there are numerous tools on the market. For help, see our handy checklist for choosing the right tool. Choose your tool carefully to ensure it delivers the data and analysis you want. Data on its own can be overwhelming: you should have a process in place to sort the important information from the background noise, so you know what information you should be acting on (not just listening to). For more information see our blog post on how we manage social listening. The challenge of creating social media campaigns at scale The single biggest challenge of engaging customers and potential customers at scale is how you respond at scale to what you learn through that engagement. If you’re going to create an engagement strategy that has genuine value, you have to be prepared to act on the response you get from your audiences. In order to support large scale campaigns, there are a few processes and tools which are crucial to success.
  12. 12. 12 Resourcing a large scale social media campaign Quality assurance, resourcing, getting the standards right at the start, and knowing how and where to escalate an issue, are all critical to the success of managing social media at scale, says Wendy Christie, Emoderation’s Chief Production Officer. Resourcing the management of social media at scale is all about finding the right balance between the number of people with the relevant languages, the amount of time you need on each social channel and the goals and standards you want to achieve. This allows you to comfortably meet the demands of your peak traffic and engage with your audience in a timely manner. We have to ensure that there is someone available 24/7 in case there’s an emergency or an issue that needs solving immediately, so Emoderation has a team to cover all time zones. There are a few questions to answer when deciding on resourcing: What are the expected traffic peaks for a new project? And once a project is underway, what does the data tell you about those traffic patterns? How often will you be posting content on social channels and how often do you want to get back to your customers or engage with your audience? What’s the timescale and level of urgency for moderation? Where a human decision has to be made about content, how quickly do you need that decision to be made? Does it have to happen immediately, within an hour, or the same day? What languages do you need? As Richard Simcott says in this white paper, you may need fewer than you think. How many hours do you estimate you’ll need to spend on the project? Once you’ve answered these questions you can then decide on the size of the team. Remember that no-one can work at full capacity for an eight-hour day, and you need to cover for sickness and holidays, as well as having a second pair of eyes to review quality.
  13. 13. 13 Get the right tools in place Getting the nuts and bolts right is very important. Make sure the tool you’re using does what you need it to, and don’t assume all tools are the same (they’re not). If you’re managing a moderation or community management project at scale, you need a social media management tool that lets you identify exactly what action was taken by whom, on what channel, and at what time. This lets you check for quality and consistency. A good tool will also measure productivity, so you can benchmark performance across the team. If you’re covering social media channels in multiple time zones and languages, your team will be distributed across the world. So you need to use the right technology to communicate with each other. We mainly use Skype and Google Hangouts, but we also have a system to message the entire team across a project, and we use Basecamp to do this. And don’t forget internal comms. We use a chat room system, Campfire, so that the team can talk to each other when they work. Set goals, and invest in training Get all your team involved in your project from the start. People need to know exactly what is expected, in terms of both quality and quan- tity of actions. Invest in training, and give the team the tools they need to achieve their goals. If you’re scaling up quickly, you might consider using tried and tested learning and self-assessment tools as part of your project rollout. Set aside enough time and resource for quality checks You should run quality checks daily, to ensure the content meets the tone of voice guidelines and that escalations are being dealt with promptly. You should also do random spot checks. If you have a new person on the team, you may need to check their work and give feed- back more regularly than that of someone with a proven track record. The team leader should check activity against the brand guidelines, social strategy and agreed schedule. Think about how you’re going to review the quality of translation and content on multilingual projects. You need more than one person to be a native speaker in each language so you can check that content is accurate and on brand. Richard Simcott explains this in more detail later. Our experience is that you should overestimate the amount of time you need at the beginning of a campaign to carry out quality checks. Later, as the team becomes more embedded in your community, you can decrease the amount of review time.
  14. 14. 14 Work out the right escalation processes Having the right escalation process in place is important for a healthy and safe online community and to protect the reputation of the brand or organisation. The right processes will depend on the kind of community you have, its target audience and the type of content it contains. Some types of community will have more escalations than others. Sites that are used by children or teenagers, for example, will have a lot of content that needs escalating. Sometimes our moderators are exposed to some very challenging content, so you also need a system in place both to deal with that content (report it to the police, for example, in extreme cases), but also to support the team member who’s seen it. If there’s a problem at 2am, who will you call? There needs to be someone on duty who can take a decision, and quickly escalate an issue. That person needs to speak the appropriate language (or work with someone who can translate accurately) so they can make the right decision. All our teams are fluent in English (the language we use across the business for communication), to overcome that issue.
  15. 15. 15 One of the most common mistakes brands make is to over-estimate the number of languages they need for a multi-national campaign. Our advice is always to be conservative at the start: you can always scale up once you have a true sense of where your campaigns are going to work best for you. Get a strong skeleton framework in place first, then look at what you need to expand the campaign. Think in languages, not countries The next thing we advise is to think in languages, rather than just in countries. It would be very neat to be able to say: ‘We’re in 50 coun- tries, therefore we need 50 languages’, but the reality is different. For example, if you’re creating content in Ireland, you probably don’t need to run Facebook in Gaelic. However, you might need Welsh for Wales. But if Belgium or Switzerland are important markets, you need multiple languages for each. If you’re in Israel, are you going to cover Arabic and Hebrew? In Spain, are you including Catalan? So our first advice is think about how many languages you need, not just how many countries you’re in. Then, consider: How local do you need the campaign to be? For example, would it be ok to use a Dutch person to cover Flemish in Belgium, or do you need a native Flemish speaker? Are you fine with having a US English speaker covering the UK, or is the campaign a local UK one (in which case you should have a UK English speaker. There are cultural differences and language nuances that can lead to real confusion). If you say ‘I want to work in German’, which German do you mean? German spoken in Germany, Austria or Switzerland? French for France or Canada? Each has different variations, words and cultural references that can make them quite distinct from each other. Do you have the resource to deliver these languages? We estimate that you need three people for each language to cover holidays, sickness and different working patterns. It’s also important for quality checks (one of those three should be quality checking the others’ work). How many hours do you need in each language? This decision should be based on your objectives and projected traffic for each territory. It might change your thinking on which languages you need: if you only want moderation for an hour a day, how do you split that hour between two or three people? The social media strategy approach outlined earlier by Blaise Grimes-Viort will predict how much time is needed for community management and social listening and this will dictate the resource required. Emoderation’s Head of Languages and resident hyper-polyglot, Richard Simcott, explains how to approach the use of language in a global social media campaign.
  16. 16. 16 The importance of cultural fluency Having an understanding of a language’s cultural context, as well as technical proficiency, is incredibly important in moderation and community management. When recruiting for a campaign, we run detailed tests to see not just how well someone can speak a language, but how aware they are of the language they’re speaking. Do they notice nuances, for example why we ‘catch’ a train in English, as opposed to getting a train? One of the best tests of language skills is talking to children. When I was in Germany, learning German, the first question I was asked by a group of children was ‘can you do the splits?’! I didn’t know how to respond in any language and no amount of study will prepare you for a random question on your acrobatic skills! You know you’re fluent when you can talk to children in their language. You lose your fluency in a culture if you’re not exposed to it every day. If you’re Hungarian, but left Hungary 20 years ago to live in the US, for example, your cultural references – and even your language – will be closer to that of a US citizen than to your native Hungary. You adopt the culture of the country in which you live. English is different, as it’s spoken everywhere and we’re exposed to it through TV and film. It’s also the main language of global businesses. If you speak English and live in the UK, US culture will be familiar. But can you write convincingly as a US citizen if you’re British? Possibly not. You need to know the history, culture and politics of the place. Even simple things such as food references are different. A word that needs moderating in UK English might be completely harmless in the US. Or if you’ve learnt French in France, you might know that you can reverse the syllables of words (known as Verlan, from l’envers). But they don’t do this in Canadian French. Even the nuances of swearing are different between cultures: In France, swear words are based around sexual terms (much as they are in English). But in Canada, they’re much more focused on reli- gious words. In Sweden, one of the worst things you can call some- one is a devil. In the Netherlands, telling someone you hope they get typhoid or consumption is really bad. But saying ‘I hope you get hiccups’ is the clean version – like telling someone to ‘buzz off’. So a blacklist of terms for moderation based just on UK and US swearwords, might not make much sense to someone from another country. Lastly, when localising content for social media, for example Face- book status updates, it’s crucial that you don’t just translate. Humour and puns written in English will rarely translate so the central team should avoid making the content too parochial or ensure that local markets are given autonomy to create content from scratch.
  17. 17. 17 Summary Managing social media successfully on an international or even a global scale takes planning, resource and commitment. You need a resource that matches your global business model which can cope with working across multiple languages, time zones and continents. We have developed our hub and spoke model to meet the needs of individ- ual brands and their agencies in a global market. If you’re thinking of scaling your social media activities across multiple locations and languages, the following checklist might help: Agree your objectives and strategy. Wh at do you want to achieve from a global approach? Define the markets in which you are active on social media. Think about how local you need the approach to be, and what languages you need to deliver on your social media strategy. Put in place a process for localising content and assess how many people you need in each language (remember: you need two to three fluent speakers for each language to allow for quality checking). And remember cultural fluency is essential too. Agree the principles of the project. Assess market variables, such as legislation, local needs, and market tiers. This will define how your structure your teams. What is the central ‘hub’ responsible for, and what are the local teams – your ‘spokes’ – responsible for? Get the right team in place, and invest in training them. Work out how much resource you need, and what capacity they’ll work at. Get the right tools in place. Consider tools for social listening, performance management, and campaign/social media management. Don’t forget collaboration tools, too, so members of your team feel part of the bigger picture and communication flows well. Set standards, for performance, quality and content; and ensure that both global and local teams know exactly what is expected of them. Agree reporting structures. Agree the creative themes for the project, and check them against brand guidelines. These themes will determine the content you produce centrally and locally. Set clear escalation processes between local and central teams and collaborate with other agencies. If the reputation of the brand or organisation is at stake you need to work with all stakeholders to minimise or manage a crisis. Obsess about the data. What content can you standardise, and how can you optimise content across markets? How are different markets performing against each other? To find out more about how we can support your global social media management, visit or email us.
  18. 18. 18 Emoderation’s experts Tamara founded the company in 2002 with the vision of applying the best social media management practices to branded online channels. Emoderation now provides social media management to some of the biggest brands in the world. Almost all her 350-strong team work remotely and with flexible hours, which allows her to offer social media management in any time zone and in more than 50 languages. This structure has allowed her to scale both Emoderation and its clients’ campaigns. As well as running Emoderation, Tamara is also the CEO of Polpeo, a social media crisis simulation company that helps brands rehearsetheir response to a crisis breaking on social media. She has extensive experience in community management, child safety, social media consultancy, and crisis communications. Wendy Christie has worked in the field of online community for more than ten years. As the Head of AOL UK’s Social Media and Community team, she managed moderation, community editorial and product integration between 1998 and 2007. Wendy oversees the recruitment, training and management of our moderators, and works to ensure that the services we provide are the best of class. She helps to develop Emoderation’s child safety policies and is a CEOP Ambassador. Blaise is Emoderation’s VP of Social Media Services. He started his career in community management in 2001 and since then has worked with global brands, start-ups and charities in fields such as publishing, FMCG, fashion, gaming, social networking, pharmaceutical, broadcasting, and telecoms. Blaise was Head of Communities and Social Media for publisher Hearst UK before coming to Emoderation, where he oversees our community management, social media consultancy and training services. Richard is our resident hyper-polyglot. He previously worked in the diplomatic corps for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is fluent in many languages, including all major European languages. Richard manages our multilingual moderators, and provides advice and training on multilingual community management projects. He was recently named ‘Ambassador of Multilingualism’ by The Goethe Institute. © Emoderation Limited 2014 This document is the intellectual property of Emoderation Limited and may not be duplicated or disclosed to any third party without the written permission of an authorised officer of the company. Tamara Littleton, CEO Wendy Christie Blaise Grimes-Viort Richard Simcott