Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
“Globalization is one of those words to have gone from obscurity to meaningless without any intervening period of coherence” – Robert Reich, Former U.S. Secretary of Labor
We all grow tired of buzzwords that are applied so ubiquitously they begin to lose meaning. “Globalization” is definitely one of these terms. However, the reality is that “going global” is no longer a choice for brands. It is a mandate. Accordingly, I’ve noted a pronounced increase in requests from clients who need to understand who is driving conversation and influencing opinions on a global/multinational scale.
Influencer marketing is a standard practice for virtually all brands. There’s been no shortage of discussion around the topic of influencer marketing or how to go about identifying those influencers. The proliferation of tools and level of rigor applied to identify influencers is a topic broad enough to support multiple posts. Before diving in to the complexities of multinational influencer analysis, it’s important to briefly touch upon the fundamentals. Any approach for identifying influencers, regardless of the market, should be rooted in the following:
1) Reach, Relevance and Resonance. These are the fundamental underpinnings of influence, and each is measured with multiple metrics for every platform influencers are using.
2) Automated Collection + Human Analysis. Tools are great for efficiently gathering and organizing the data, but no completely automated solution is going to provide meaningful outputs. It is absolutely critical to have an analyst vet the data in the appropriate contextand align the outputs with the business objectives.
5 Keys to Global Influencer Analysis
We recently completed an issue-focused influencer analysis for a multinational oil and gas company. The goal was to identify a comprehensive list of key thought leaders driving the conversation around the issue in 10 markets (seven languages) in North America, Europe and Russia. In addition to identifying in-market influencers, assessing the tone and sentiment of each influencer’s issue-relevant content was critical for informing future communications strategy.
Below are five key takeaways from this experience that provide a blueprint for successfully conducting a multinational influencer analysis. Some will seem obvious initially, but it’s critical to address each item below before embarking on the journey:
1) Language and Context: This one isn’t a shocker, but it’s more nuanced than it appears. Assessing the relevance and sentiment of in-market content obviously requires fluency, but it goes beyond simply having native speakers to assist with analysis. In addition to interpreting data on the back end of the analysis, meshing language capabilities with technical skills is important for developing keywords and search operators that will identify the right content from the outset. This is easier said than done when dealing with multifaceted geopolitical issues.
In addition, there are technical details that must be addressed before you begin. Do your analytics tools of choice recognize and process non-English characters (forfærdelig!)? The devil is in the details.
2) Channels That Matter: Identifying the platforms that matter in the markets of interest for your audience is relatively straightforward. Understanding how those platforms work and how to collect the appropirate data from them is the next step. Do you have a thorough understanding of VK? How about Yandex? Knowing how information is searched for, consumed and shared in the market (in this case Russia) is critical for assessing the influencer landscape.
3) Media landscape: Knowing the lay of the land in each market is not only critical for engagement recommendations, it’s also a critical component of context. Whether it’s the nature of the French Energy Media or state-mandated media restrictions in Russia, the unique nuances within each market should frame how you’re collecting and interpreting data.
4) Cultural Relevance – This is where opportunities for rich insights lie. Taking a broader view to assess a market’s cultural frame of reference and the events that have shaped those views can begin to connect communications strategy with underlying needs, motivations, etc.
5) Geopolitics Context: For issues management, understanding the economic and political reality in the region(s) of interest adds another layer of complexity. In Europe, what are each country’s views toward Russia as a political entity? How dependent are they on Russian energy exports? What is the historical context for international relations? Knowing the answers to these questions will frame the context (social, economic, historic) for the core narratives in each market.
Influencer programs are now table stakes for brands seeking to support global positioning. Scaling influencer programs to provide coherence and efficiency while enabling market-specific messaging is increasingly the norm. Whether you’re in healthcare, CPG or energy, using the guide above and spending a little more time in planning can ensure you identify and activate the right influencers to tell your brand’s story in the global marketplace.
Photo: Luke Price, Flickr, 11/06/12