Unlike traditional media, social media is not bound by geographical barriers and is, therefore, capable of reaching a much bigger audience than most other forms of advertising. According to one study, influencer content delivers an ROI that is 11 times higher(!) than traditional forms of digital marketing. It’s a big world out there and with business globalization, world market share becomes increasingly more obtainable.
As we go about our day, it can be easy to have an ethnocentric view of culture and customs. That same tendency applies to media and our perception of it. As social media and its influencers grow in stature and audience to take up a greater share of our time and attention, individuals like Superwoman, King Bach and Markiplier are quickly becoming households names here in the U.S. But what about CaELiKe, Cyprien and HIKAKIN?
Global brands are catching on to the power of utilizing influencer endorsement and production, and in conjunction require either a direct knowledge, or a partner with experience, of how to execute campaigns across several different countries, languages, and customs.
Global companies have an unprecedented opportunity to utilize social media influencers to build their brands and capture market share in developed countries and emerging markets; however, it is important to have relationships and a presence around the world in order to execute global influencer campaigns. Here are a few tips on how to get it done.
Know The Countries You Are Working In
When approaching global influencer campaigns, language, cultural norms, the existent social landscape, and disclosure or other mandatory requirements should be major considerations. Although familiarity with English is somewhat common to many large global influencers, it shouldn’t be relied upon when trying to scale a campaign. This becomes increasingly important once contracting begins, as it is easy for misunderstandings and misinterpretations to arise.
Although the general process for a partnership is the same regardless of country, some unique factors such as payment schedules, value-added negotiations, and urgency of communication exist across cultures. The frequency and manner of communication that is normal for your region could appear overly-assertive, or not collaborative enough, when compared to that of a different culture. Presuming the negotiated fee is the full amount of compensation, when the other party feels additional fees/taxes should be included on top (e.g. VAT in the UK), can lead to tricky situations and budget concerns. Understanding of these items comes through experience, and working with partners who understand how these cultures prefer to work.
Preferences and common practices vary from country to country, as well as the genres of content and their respective popularity. Never assume that because one market is heavy with gaming or daily vlog influencers, that the landscape is identical in other countries. Other questions to ask include “Is Facebook and/or Twitter used the same way in country X as country Y?”, “Is YouTube a strong video platform in this country, or is there an alternative service that is more popular”. It would be foolish to sell in an Instagram or YouTube campaign, composed of influencers that exist in a country where those platforms are shadowed by more popular services.
Lastly, be aware of how disclosure requirements vary by country. The FTC and ASA, for example, generally aim for the same standards, but have more specific guidelines and requirements that differ from one another.
Make Sure You Are Prepared For The Time Differences
With all the components and alignment that go into a full campaign, the timeline from beginning to end can go by much faster than initially thought. You must give yourself, the brand, and each influencer ample prep time, especially as urgency and adherence to timelines vary across cultures. Presuming that you can’t always match the ideal of time zones aligning amongst all parties, it becomes essential to create a flexible infrastructure that allows for work around the clock. It is also important to recognize that legal work, especially when dealing across country borders, can significantly slow down the contracting and approval phase.
Our teams in Utah, NYC, LA, and London are designed to have many bilingual employees that can progress the campaign in all areas. Tight-knit teams in constant communication allow for continual momentum and campaign developments, ensuring they are delivered according to schedule. Although the ideal is to have a physical presence in each of the areas represented by the campaign, establishing flexible teams that are comfortable adjusting to the time schedules of the brand or influencer is key in order to execute campaigns across several countries.
Have Universal Processes That Everyone Can Understand
The same standards that allow for scaling campaigns across large numbers of influencers, also apply for broadening campaign scopes across varying countries. This includes an effort to standardize and simplify all elements of the campaign process. The best approach is to set a standard level of expectations for each type of placement, such as a pre-approved themes, talking points and basic concept across all videos. Those expectations should be packaged into a solid contract, which is simple enough for a variety of people to understand.
Maintaining this standardization and simplicity allows you to replicate the process across various languages and individuals. You could even consider composing simple one-sheeters that outline the phases of the project (from negotiation, to concept submission and approval, content review and posting, and reporting) so that each party knows what to expect next.
Executing global influencer campaigns (let alone domestic campaigns) is still a relatively young practice in the world of marketing. Methods and processes continue to refine themselves as brands learn how to better identify influencers and measure success, as well as creators maturing in their understanding of how to best work with brands. These challenges are compounded when working internationally, as additional items like language, time zones, and culture complicate the effort to continuously be aligned in all aspects of the campaign. If adequate research is done, paired with both a flexible infrastructure and universal processes, brands and agencies alike can take their campaigns to the next level, and across borders.
Jake Maughan currently serves as Vice President, Client Services, Digital at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) where he oversees all influencer campaigns. Previously, Jake served as Vice President of Operations at Plaid Social Labs, the leading social media influencer product integration company, which was acquired by BEN in 2015. BEN Digital focuses on brand integration to increase awareness, establish product credibility and build an active community of brand advocates.
Jake holds a BS from Utah Valley University and an MBA from Utah State University.
Brad Davis serves as the Director of Digital Campaigns at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), a Bill Gates Company. A valuable member of Plaid Social Labs, which was acquired by Branded Entertainment Network in May of 2015 to expand reach into the digital influencer community, he has a portfolio of hundreds of social media influencer campaigns that have reached over 1B individuals across YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Brad has been a key player in the influencer space working with thousands of content creators to produce excellent branded content for leading brands. Brad currently resides in Provo, UT.