How to scale social media across Europe for brand growth

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Hands in the air: scaling social media should be a top priority for any digital marketing manager targeting European expansion.

Growth is a scary word, right? It’s on every digital marketing managers’ KPIs but once it’s set, there’s no going back; you either succeed or fail to hit it.

Scaling social media should be a top priority for any digital marketing manager or social media agency looking to grow an audience and tap into the European market. But how can brands talk intimately to each consumer at scale with over 27 different languages, cultural nuances and idioms to tackle and provide one overarching message?

The definition of scaling social media successfully in Europe means being efficient and effective in delivering social across multiple platforms and countries. It’s not just about cost; it’s about engaging customers successfully in each country. To do so, you need to achieve three things with each communication via social: hyper-relevance, laser-focused targeting and truly engaging creative.

As a social creative agency and content studio, we work with global brands to help them scale their social media presence in multiple European countries at the same time. Our hero client, JBL, a brand of Harman International, started us off as UK social content production, management and distribution on Facebook and Instagram. Within two years, we’ve rolled out the same system out in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, working also with YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. We’ve helped built a community of over half a million engaged followers for the brand, using a mix of influencers, creative social content, social lead gen campaigns and event activations.

Our agency formula works for all sized companies, from start-ups to global brands. We’re happy to share with you the common myths we hear from clients and prospects about scaling social content in Europe and help to prove them wrong.

Common myths we hear from brand managers

“It’s so expensive”

Video and content can work in a similar way to the production of goods. Economies of scale apply when you are able to utilise either a piece of content effectively across different countries, or a number of the same people across multiple countries.

“It’s inefficient to have 10 profiles for one continent”

It’s not inefficient, it’s logical. Brands often ask us “why would we spend so much time, resources and money on having 10 localised pages instead of just one global or EMEA page in English... everyone speaks English anyway, right?” English may be the Lingua Franca of the century but there is nothing more damaging to a brand than being irrelevant, unfocused and vague when trying to engage with an audience on social.

We preach and practice local people being at the forefront of social media profiles. However, your creatives, videographers, and the rest of the team don’t have to all be from Italy if you are running an Italian channel.

“It’s ok to just translate generic content across countries”

This is the worst one. No, it’s not ok to translate generic content. You will get yourself into all sorts of mess. What works in France won’t work in the UK. It’s a matter of relevance, which translates directly to an increase in engagement rate.

“It’s too time consuming”

It really doesn’t have to be. Not if you set up your agency/in-house team correctly. We have our own model that can churn out high quality content in a matter of hours. You can read below on how we do that.

From these myths, we can conclude that brands must streamline three major things to be able to scale social in the EU:

  • Cost efficient content within budget;
  • High quality engagement all the time;
  • Social content created and distributed in a social timeframe (aka real time).

Busting myths

Be lean, agile and reactive to change - just like social

Events happen in a matter of seconds in this world and if you’re a brand wanting to spark a conversation you have to be the first or you’ll be lost. Turn content around within 24 hours or it’s not worth posting, especially if you’re making content for events and around timely announcements. Brands have 3 seconds to engage someone so make it count.

Act like a studio

Don’t buy into community management, buy into content management because content is King and it always will be. By 2020, 80% of content online will be video, which means old-school production houses are not going to be able to sustain themselves on TVC-style landscape videos. Brands and agencies need to be able to deliver content fast, efficiently and cost effectively without forgoing quality.

Hire producers to manage projects; hybrid content managers who are proficient in Adobe Creative Suite, can write copy and paid social strategy; creatives that can plan, research, analyse data and conceptualise big ideas; and always keep a big black book of freelancers nearby. Freelancers need to be videographers, producers and designers as well as content managers in localised areas.

Hire smart

Locals - people with local know-how are essential for each market you are active in because they know what should and should not be said or visualised in content.

Social natives - young people that grew up around social and are naturally attuned to what works and what doesn’t. Gen Z is a good choice.

Authentic brand hires - people that are fully aligned to the brand. KFC hires comedians to manage its social because they embody traits of a KFC consumer and match the brands social personality.

To be successful on social, brands need three things: hyper-relevance, laser-focused targeting and truly engaging creative. You cannot have any of these things without locals, true social natives and authentic personalities for the brand.

Be social, think mobile

Be truly social and move fast with content made for mobile. Mobile is not just for Snapchatters, TikTokers or the Chinese on Singles’ Day. It’s for everyone and even western markets are experiencing the shift to mobile more than we expected. A staggering 70% of content is consumed on mobile today and this is only set to increase.

All-in-all, most global brands are just scraping the barrel when it comes to growing audiences on social media but by taking these steps. You can ensure success through setting up and religiously sticking to efficient processes.

Chris Adams is chief executive officer of Hey Honey

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