Personal Branding Across Cultures: Building Relationships Online: The Importance of Social Media to Cross-Cultural Branding

Personal Branding Across Cultures
By Marcela Jenney
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?

Building Relationships Online: The Importance of Social Media to Cross-Cultural Branding

Today, the universal reach of social media has the capacity to influence cross-cultural branding like never before. In fact, the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media giants has empowered ‘solopreneurs’ and small business owners (in the US) to compete with large corporations in their ability to connect with consumers, businesses and the media.

Despite its widespread popularity in the US, social media usage and acceptance diverges in some parts of the world. In a CrossCulturalConnector.com article, 3 Social Media Lessons for Global Marketers, author Amadou M. Sall notes that Germany currently lags behind the US in adopting social media. Only 58% of German Internet users are on social networking sites, compared to 77% in the US. The most popular networking site in Germany is StudiVZ, although Facebook is rapidly gaining market share. Moreover, Germans typically have privacy and safety concerns, as they don’t trust unofficial sources and tend to shy away from openly sharing personal data online.

Although 9 out of every 10 Chinese citizens utilize social media, their online community vastly differs from those of us in the West. In Field Report: Shanghai and China’s Social Web, also written by Amadou M. Sall and appearing on CrossCulturalConnector.com, the author writes that the Chinese Internet users gravitate toward different tools and websites, including Baidu, Tencent QQ and Cina. In fact, Western-owned social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked by a firewall in China, rendering them basically irrelevant. Furthermore, Chinese brands and consumers gravitate towards ‘pay-to-play’ social networking sites (SNS) rather than creating their own.

So don’t make the mistake of taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to cross-cultural social media. It will only detract from the strength of your brand, and plant seeds of doubt in the hearts and minds of target markets beyond your borders. Instead, do your homework/research and take the necessary time to adapt your social media communication to fit diverse cultures and ethnicities. This important step will enable you to significantly bridge the gap that separates your brand from global consumers and businesses, and to forge lasting and strategic relationships with them.

Marcela Jenney is an international entrepreneurial marketing expert, business coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience. She partners with language service providers as well as professionals from culturally diverse backgrounds.

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