When it comes to business, there is more than one important facet to creating a successful and productive company. Most importantly, is the part culture plays. Think about it. Culture, defined, is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society, and culture is thus shared through various groups of shared interests. Essentially, it’s the things people share together; language, social cues, behaviors, religions, and even various attitudes and manners that are accepted. In order to produce a successful business globally, you must learn these special aspects of culture, otherwise, you risk not only embarrassing yourself, but loosing an important deal.
Early corporate citizenship initiatives were often directed at supporting community causes ranging from charitable organizations to cultural institutions like municipal symphonies and operas. Companies have been historically helpful in developing the cultural infrastructure of many communities. Whether these corporate philanthropy efforts were beneficial to the company or only to selected individuals is very subjective. However, many of these early efforts were not scrutinized for their contribution to the strategic objectives of the firm. Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer have argued that a company needs to choose its social initiatives strategically. They have advanced the concept of shared value, which they define as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic programs.”
Porter and Kramer identify three approaches that apply to international marketers:
(1) delivering attractive products that are truly beneficial to society; (2) removing problems in the supply chain that are both costly and socially detrimental, such as reducing. greenhouse gasses; and (3) enabling local cluster development to help communities become more competitive.
They argue that “we need a more sophisticated form of capitalism, one imbued with a social purpose. But that purpose should arise not out of charity but out of a deeper understanding of competition and economic value creation.” The best international marketers are driven by the desire to create value and improve their competitive positions, so shared value becomes the right and smart thing to do.
This info graphic illustrates the jump in the use of social media in China during the past years.
Infographic: Chee Seng
Creating a substantial social media presence is not simply about making a Facebook page and hoping customers will drop by. In business, successful communities are developed through the use of skillful marketing research, planning, and strategy making. Social media–based marketing succeeds best when the firm offers products and services relevant to the customer, incorporating substantial value, and provided by an organization deemed trustworthy and reliable. Below are important strategies firms should follow to maximize the effectiveness of social media in international marketing.
Monitor Your Firm’s Online Reputation
Trust plays a critical role in the success of social media marketing. In a world of 24-hour news cycles via practically unlimited news and information outlets, firms can fall victim to gossip and the rants of disgruntled consumers, activists, and others. Thus, marketers need to invest efforts every day scanning the Internet to monitor news about the firm and its brands.
Communicate Your Expertise
Sophisticated companies publicize their expertise in various ways online, such as via websites, podcasts, blogs, and social media, all emphasizing buyers’ needs. Fundamentally, more than caring about products themselves, consumers seek solutions to their specific problems.
Understand Your Markets
Marketers need to devise marketing communications only after acquiring substantive knowledge of the characteristics of intended buyers. By knowing who is using which social sites, marketers can promote their products to their targeted audience at the appropriate sites. For example, the social network site aSmallWorld targets affluent members and others who are part of the international social jet set. Care2 is a social network site that appeals to environmentalists and other interest in green living from around the world.
Manage Information about Your Company and Brands
Many firms today use Facebook and other sites to disseminate continuous news releases that provide value to consumers. Buyers respond favorably to information that appeals to their needs and concerns about products and brands they enjoy. News releases online link to the corporate website, where explanations are offered regarding emergent trends and events that interest buyers. The most successful social media sites incorporate numerous useful links to other sites and provide easy means for customers to contact company representatives. For example, Chinese computer giant Lenovo launched a site called “Voices of the Olympic Games” to collect posts from the athletes competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The site allowed Lenovo to link its brand to exciting Olympics events as they developed.