Companies are blogging less and that’s a mistake

An interesting study courtesy of the Society for New Communications Research:

Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes has been studying corporate communications strategies of the Fortune 500 for the past eight years. Key findings include:

  • Twenty-one percent of the Fortune 500 has a corporate blog (103 corporations) (21%); a decrease of 10% from 2014.
  • Twitter is more popular than Facebook with the Fortune 500 (78% vs 74%).
  • Glassdoor (87%) has joined LinkedIn (93%) as a popular business tool.
  • The use of Instagram has increased by 13%. A total of 33% of the Fortune 500 having an Instagram presence, pointing to a continued growth in interest in visually rich platforms.

I have noticed that fewer companies are publishing blogs these days — particularly globally. I view this as a missed opportunity, though I understand why it is happening. Creating  content that people actually want to read is hard work. It’s not as sexy as chasing the latest new social network, like Snapchat or Instagram.

Blogs, well produced, can be an amazing source of leads, search engine traffic and customer engagement — even with mobile users. And if you support blogs across a variety of languages you will only multiply the traffic you receive.

I’m not suggesting that companies not support Twitter, Instagram, etc. In fact, blogs provide foundational content for Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.

One company still invested in blogs (and other content) is Capgemini:

capgemini_blogs

And here is an excerpt from the German site — local-language blogs:

capgemini_de

 

Perhaps I’m a bit biased about blogs, as I’ve been writing this one for more than a decade.

But I suspect companies will one day come full circle on this.

After all, everything old is new again…

You can download the full research report here.

 

 

When localizing social content for China, think beyond Facebook and Twitter

So your company is successful on Facebook. And Twitter.

And now you want to expand your social reach into China.

Well, you can pretty much forget Facebook and Twitter, because these services are blocked.

Instead, you’ll need to focus on networks like RenRen, Sina Weibo, and QQ.

If you find this a tad bit intimidating, you’re not alone.

Which is why I was intrigued to come across a company that offers a simple but compelling service for companies wishing to expand their social footprints into China.

I’ll let the visual they provide sum up their service:

KAWO social

The company is KAWO and founder Andrew Collins recently answered a few of my questions…

Q: What social networks do you localize social feeds for in China?

KAWO allows brands to translate and localize their existing social media content from their Facebook and Twitter accounts to their Chinese social media counterparts, RenRen, WeChat, and Sina Weibo, giving brands digital access to over 500 million people where these key Western social media platforms are blocked.

Q: Roughly how long does it take for your localizers to translate a newly created social update in English across to the local feeds?

Although posts can be posted as quickly as 10 minutes, we give brands a 30 minute allowance to manage their posts in case they want to change something. Brands can also directly post on the KAWO dashboard to expedite the process. KAWO has several layers of protection to ensure that all content is in line with the local environment, but this allowance lets brands to have more control over their content.

Q: I’m assuming you work from English to Chinese, but do you also support other source languages?

Currently, we only support English to Chinese (simplified), but we have plans to roll out French, Spanish and German by 2014.

Q: Are all your clients organizations and companies without a local marketing team?

Some do, but almost all of our clients do not have a local on-the-ground team in China.

Q: And if not, why would a company with a local team work with you?

Aside from offering a range of packages that allow brands of all sizes and budgets dip their toes into the China market, we offer an unrivaled level of transparency, control, and protection. KAWO’s dashboard lets brands monitor activity on their accounts as everything is tracked, as well as control content- brands can directly post or take down content. KAWO’s dashboard also streamlines the process by having a central location where content from Facebook and Twitter posts are aggregated and broadcasted on multiple Chinese networks at the same time. KAWO’s multi-layered protection, consisting of both our proprietary technology and human moderation, ensures that potentially harmful words, phrases, and pictures won’t go unnoticed.

Q: I realize your service is quite new but are there any success stories or positive anecdotes you can share?

Table tennis is the largest spectator sport in China, but the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) had almost no presence on Chinese social media. Their Facebook page had great content, but as that is banned in China, it is obviously more difficult for Chinese fans to connect to them. We pulled that content in, translated, localized, and published it, and now ITTF has over 15,000 fans in just two months. Additionally, the Sina Weibo and TenCent accounts for Liverpool FC are already at over 1.5 million fans. In such a short amount of time, companies are definitely getting more bang for their buck.

Q: How much does your service cost?

We offer a range of packages, starting from $199 going to $2995, depending on a company’s needs. Our ‘Lite’ package is perfect for small businesses looking to just dip their toes into the China market and get a feel for the environment. Our most recommended package, ‘Pro,’ is a little more comprehensive: with a ‘Pro’ account, brands, universities, destinations, and personalities can sync their Facebook and Twitter accounts to China’s three top social networks (Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and RenRen) and get detailed demographic and competitor analysis. Finally, our ‘Enterprise’ package is the most extensive package. Clients with an ‘Enterprise’ package, ideal for clubs, teams, and large brands, not only have everything detailed in the ‘Pro’ account, but also full marketing support from our team- a dedicated account manager to help with campaigns, contests, and more.

Q: Do your localizers interact with locals in addition to just translating content? And how is this managed so the brand is well served? Also, what if there are customer service questions that need to be handled by corporate?

Our moderators are all local recruits, who are then trained to Internet and social media best practices. Since they know the local environment as well as international best practices for brands, they can gauge what posts are appropriate for China. Additionally, our team, comprised of both local and foreign employees, works closely together to make sure our customers’ needs are met. Our different packages offers varying levels of service as well- our enterprise account, for example, offers a higher level of customer interaction than our light package.

Q: If companies were to pick just one social network to embrace in China, what would you recommend and why?

The digital landscape is very dynamic in China, but Sina Weibo has consistently demonstrated its dominance for the past 2 years, and with its new partnership with e-commerce giant, Alibaba, there are going to be a lot more commercial opportunities for companies.

Q: Finally, can you tell us the significance of your name?

Kicking Asia Wide Open!

www.kawo.com

Five tips for successful, global web surveys

It seems like everyone is running a web survey these days.

While I appreciate the importance of asking your website visitors what they think, too many of these surveys are poorly implemented.

So here are five tips to consider before launching your web survey…

1. Make it worth my while

I used to love to participate in focus groups. But I didn’t do it just to be nice (and get a sneak peak at new products). The focus groups paid me for my time.

On the Internet, most web surveys offer little (or nothing) in exchange for my time.

Consider this plea from Twitter, which attempts to coax you with cuteness into participating:

Twitter survey

Facebook doesn’t even try to be cute. But, like Twitter, nothing in exchange for my time:

Facebook survey

Why, Facebook?

Why should I give you 3-4 minutes of my time? (Or, to be honest, an additional 3-4 minutes of my time.)

I’m not suggesting you must pay people to get them to participate. But offer them something. A chance to win a gift certificate or free product is always a nice incentive.

Some surveys will tell me they want my feedback to help them improve my user experience. This isn’t much, but it’s something. And it displays an understanding that my time has value and that the company appreciates it. The New York Times does  that:

New York Times web survey

And how about offering to share the results of your survey with your respondents? This too would be something of value that many of your respondents might appreciate. I certainly would.

2. Speak my language

During the production of The Web Globalization Report Card, I visited a few hundred websites. Roughly 35% of these websites featured a web survey, though only a small fraction of these websites offered surveys in the local user’s language. For example, as shown below, a visitor to the Texas Instruments Russia website encounters a pop-up survey in English.

Texas instruments survey in Russia

Perhaps the company was targeting English-speaking web users in Russia, though I doubt it. Most companies simply overlook non-English speaking markets when they launch “global” web surveys.

Fortunately a few companies do invest in localizing their web surveys.Best Buy localized its survey for its Spanish-language website, shown here:

Best Buy Survey in Spanish

So the lesson here is simple: If you’re planning a global web survey, invest in making it truly global.

And keep in mind that localizing a survey is not simply a matter of translation. Questions may need to be completely rewritten, added or deleted.

3. Be brief

The following survey, which I encountered last year, is so text-heavy and complex that I  wonder who actually bothers to participate.

Gillette survey

And how valuable is the feedback from someone who has the spare time to navigate such a survey request, let alone the survey?

4. Don’t block navigation

As you can see below, a web survey overlay on the Siemens website blocks my ability to select a country website.

Now let’s suppose I don’t speak English and I just want to get to my country website.

Siemens web survey

Clearly, overlays are designed to not be ignored. But consideration should be given to web users who may not speak the language of the global home page.

These people are simply trying to move along to their localized websites and web surveys can be very disruptive.

5. Don’t be creepy

Microsoft web survey

I think surveys that interrupt you with a pop-up when you first visit and then promise to interrupt you again when you leave the website are a bit creepy.

Most people don’t like the idea of being watched online and this feels like that — like someone hovering too close while you use the ATM machine.

And how about this one from LG:

LG web survey

This message implies that LG somehow knows how to get in touch with me via email or text.

I realize this isn’t the case but I’m not sure all web users will know this.

Bonus Tip: Test your survey on friends and family

Too often we launch surveys and promotions without asking a few simple questions:

  • Would my mom or dad bother to take this survey?
  • Would my significant other?
  • Would my child?
  • Would I take the time to complete it?

It doesn’t matter if these people aren’t your “target” web users. Because everyone’s a web user these days. Everyone’s busy. And everyone is encountering web surveys.

If the answers to these questions are NO, then find out how to get them to YES. Often this process alone will help you address many of the points mentioned above.

 

 

 

 

Cisco Systems: The Best Global Enterprise Technology Website

Cisco Systems logo

Cisco Systems logo

We studied 12 enterprise technology websites for the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

The Web Globalization Report Card is an annual benchmark of how effectively companies internationalize and localize their websites and applications for the world.

Out of those 12 companies, Cisco Systems emerged on top.

Cisco emerged on top for three main reasons.

First, it leads the category in languages with 40 (not counting English), followed by IBM and Xerox.

Second, as shown below, the website is globally consistent.

Cisco global consistency

Cisco supports a global template that is flexible enough to support local content and promotions.

Third, Cisco leads the sector in its support for locally relevant social networks.

Shown below is the template used on the .com website:

Cisco Social in English

And here is the template used on South Korean website:

Cisco Social in Korean

Note how the template supports the insertion of locally specific feeds.

Many companies still cling to the idea that they can support just one English-language Twitter or Facebook page for the world.

But all this feed does is reach English speakers around the world. If you’re really serious about a given country you need to fully support its languages. And Cisco is well ahead of most companies in its support for local-language social networks and videos.

Regarding global navigation, there is still room for improvement. The gateway relies on a pop-up window, shown here:

Cisco global gateway

I’d prefer to see Cisco use a globe icon to highlight the gateway in the header (instead of simply using a “Worldwide” link). And the gateway itself could be better executed.

That said, Cisco is by far the leader in the global enterprise technology category — and it is also a top 5 website.

Here are the 12 enterprise technology websites included in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card:

  • Autodesk
  • Cisco Systems
  • Dolby
  • EMC
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • NetApp
  • Oracle
  • Renesas
  • SAP
  • Texas Instruments
  • Xerox

Read more in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

Also included with the Report Card is the Enterprise Technology Website report.

 

The top 25 global websites from the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card

Top 25 global websites of 2013

I’m pleased to announce the top-scoring websites from the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card. This is the ninth annual edition of the report and it’s always exciting to highlight those companies that have excelled in web globalization over the years.

Google is no stranger to the top spot, but this is largely because Google has not stood still. With the exception of navigation (a weak spot overall) Google continues to lead not only in the globalization of its web applications but its mobile apps. YouTube, for example, supports a 54-language mobile app. Few apps available today surpass 20 languages; most mobile apps support fewer than 10 languages.

Hotels.com has done remarkably well over the past two years and, in large part, due to its investment in mobile websites and apps. While web services companies like Amazon and Twitter certainly do a very good job with mobile, I find that travel services companies are just as innovative, if not more so.

Philips improved its ranking due to its improved global gateway. And Microsoft and HP also saw gains due to their website redesigns, which also included improved global gateways.

New to the Top 25 this year are Starbucks, Merck, and KPMG.

As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 50 languages. And while this number is skewed highly by Wikipedia and Google, if we were to remove those websites the average would still be above 35 languages.

The companies on this list also demonstrate a high degree of global design consistency across most, if not all, localized websites. This degree of consistency allows them to focus their energies on content localization, which these companies also do well. And more than 20 of the companies support websites optimized for smartphones.

I’ll have more to say in the weeks ahead. You can download an excerpt here.

And if you have any questions at all, just ask.