trend spotting: Twitter checklist for building trust with your global social media audience

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/04/30 1 views

in b why benchmark analytics,c micro-blogging Twitter,d business Fortune 500,e marketing 101 serving a need

  1. We tell you why Dell  may not do so well with its website and
  2. Hitwise  may have missed the mark widely with its latest Twitter stats – and
  3. NO – Twitter is no longer a niche.

Of those that know English, non-native speakers now outnumber native English-speakers by 3:1
Here is a checklist on how you can limit your risks when using social media in the global marketplace, you better make sure …

We have previously discussed that across countries different social networks are more or less popular: continues to fail businesses with inaccurate usage numbers

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Some estimate that about a fourth of the world’s population are able to speak and understand English as outlined here:

English language rules

The above illustrates that many people might read content in English published on blogs, through Twitter and social networking tools. However, for many English is their third or forth language. Accordingly, misunderstandings are likely to happen and Irish humor will surely fail to tickle somebody from the Mediterranean.

Does your social media use account for the globalization effect?

Communication is both verbal and non-verbal (gestures, emotions, face expressions, etc.). You may communicate using different modes such as the telephone, e-mail, Twitter, Instant Messaging and so on.

Twitter: wake up and smell the coffee – have a conversation instead

At first glance, some companies have apparently succeeded in influencing the social media space. For instance, Dell’s approach is often referred to as an example for how organizations can build a virtual community. Unfortunately, usability issues and globalization do not filter through into the design at the Dell portal. For instance, clicking on the above hyperlink means:

A) you have to allow Java Script to get the page shown, as it should – not something, security experts like to see;

B) takes about a minute to load fully from over here in Europe – imagine having a slow connection trying to view the page – world wide wait (WWW) must be applied in such a case; AND

C) usability (see points 1 & 2) is a problem and exacerbated with too much information at the front page making navigating through the pages cumbersome…

Therefore, why Dell hosts blogs and community sites and, thereby engages the community of Dell product users on its turf, non-native speakers will have some challenges to overcome.

Of course, Dell will argue that one should visit the country site to get the information in the language one needs. Unfortunately, depending on the country one lives in (e.g., Italy), Dell’s localized webpage may contain little besides product information – meaning neither blogs, product reviews and so on.

also of interest:
SocioTwitting – developing metrics for Twitter volume vs. Twitter influence The ComMetrics Index
what indicators are used to rank methodology – how we measure social media efforts

What you should check immediately?You should share this post with your marketing and sales folks and amongst the issues outlined above, focus on the fact that:

Non-native speakers now outnumber native English-speakers by three to one.

Accordingly, are you aware and able to answer such questions as:

a) what is the percentage of non-native speakers reading your webpage content?

b) how many non-native speakers subscribe to your RSS feed(s) or receive your blog posts via e-mail?

c) what percentage of comments written on your blog or community page is written by non-native speakers?

d) what percentage of people following or subscribing to your Twitter feed or tweets are non-native English speakers?

With English, one has the opportunity for reaching a global audience. However, to avoid misunderstandings and dissatisfied community members and readers you must deal with the above questions.

What does this all mean for Twitter addicts?

Sometimes I wonder if our Silicon Valley friends using Twitter are aware that some people live in a different time zone. For instance, using Twitter for inviting people to comment on a blog post is great. However, half your audience might be asleep by the time you send out the tweet. In turn, it could take 12 hours until you get comments from Asia. Worse, since European executives tend to take their weekends seriously, the earliest answer you can expect is sometime later during Monday. And no, they will not tweet using their mobile at the beach, forget it.

As well, spending a few tweets on going out to dinner in San Francisco tonight might be amusing to some. Most of your global readership will perceive this as chatter or chaff that takes time to scan through, while adding little if any value to their workday.

Naturally, these issues matter only if you want to attain trust and succeed with your social media efforts by reaching your target audience. In our case, these are technical experts or c-level executives.

So how can you get the information to answer questions a-d above?

Unfortunately, some manual work is involved to get a handle on these issues, such as:

1) check your subscriber list:

e-mail – we found that 5% of our readers for one of our blogs seem to be located in Japan
RSS feed – looking at our server statistics 40% appear to be from North America, 0.5% from Japan

2) check comments written by your readers:

E-mail – we found that just about 90% out of the group of readers writing comments about our posts appear to be native English-speakers;
==> we are thinking about how we can make it easier for non-native English speakers to post in one way or another (e.g., we check and remove spell-check errors if possible, etc.)?

3) check if topics covered are of interest to your global audience:

Elections – what might create big attention in the U.S. (e.g., Democratic primaries) might not be that interesting in Eastern Europe;
==> wherever your global readership is staying, we know for sure that they are not likely to watch Monday night football or Hockey Night in Canada.

4) check to make sure that you know what your primary target audience or readership prefers:

Content delivery – do not force readers to have to use a particular delivery method such as Feedburner or RSS feed, instead, c-level folks (e.g., the chief information officer, chief executive officer) do not appreciate being told what they must do, as outlined here:
Getting news online – reducing your biggest time waster

More than 2 Twitter posts a day might turn your executive followers away – trust me – we have learnt the hard way being called on our mobile and told to shape up with our tweets on Twitter or ship out – one of our c-level followers

Do your 20 tweets really add beef to the discussions or should you cut it down to 5 and work instead?

If you cannot provide an answer to the issues mentioned under points a-d, you could be in trouble. Not having investigated points 1-5, you may neither serve your target audience as effectively with what they want, nor spend your money wisely. Moreover, yes, if you fail to deliver you pay dearly for it:

Why women buy black high heels – the guide for everything

Therefore, if you want to be effective with your social media efforts, you have to proceed systematically as we suggest above. Building trust takes time and effort while loosing it can happen faster than you think.

Tidbit – ‘peer’ review

Dell encourages peer or user reviews and tries to bubble them up by placing them prominently on its web pages.

Since research indicates that people seem to trust peers more than corporate websites, not a bad move. However, unless these reviews point out advantages and disadvantages of using a particular product in specific contexts, I wonder if people will put much trust in those published on the Dell webpage?

Who do people trust? (It ain’t bloggers)

The research suggests that investigators might have forgotten to take into consideration that building trust takes time. To illustrate, purchasing online for the first time might be a big step for most of us. However, after having done it a few times, you begin to trust the seller (see e-Bay, Amazon, etc.).

Accordingly, bloggers can and do develop trust over time with their readers. However, it might take more than one week, of course.

So unless you followed our blog her or Twitter feed for a while, you probably trust your friends or family far more than what you read here. Nevertheless, our IT security and risk alert subscribers will tell you that their live depends on us delivering the goods before the hackers will :-)


While we agree with Heather Hopkins that:

Twitter Gaining Momentum But Still Niche

we find such numbers superfluous and often meaningless. What surprises us is the kind of people that Twitter attracts besides the obvious crowd, such as teenies and techies or social media experts. What about you?

Have you had a C-Level exec call you up, telling you about why he liked your tweets yesterday. We had one just do that.

What about your experience, any C-level people following you on Twitter? Leave a comment please.

By the way, if you want to stay abreast the latest trend, check this:

Twitter feed – Social Media Influence Conference – June 4 – 2008 – London

  • Heather Hopkins

    Thanks for picking up on my post and for your comment.

    In response to your question about geography that you left on my post, we can report our data by country because of the methodology we use.

    Hitwise partners with ISPs to anonymously track internet usage for over 10 million US internet users. We also have data for the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    As for who is using Twitter… Averages don’t reveal the ends of the spectrum. There are certainly people of all walks of life using Twitter. However, I pointed out the average. Twitter may be very familiar to you but it is still new to many people.

    Enjoy the fresh air of the swiss mountains. And thanks again for keeping me on my toes!


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