Thursday, March 25, 2010

If you want to reach the world, you need a ton of tools to do so

Years and years ago, someone started a small organization in New York. After a couple of business re-locations and a change in leadership necessitated by the death of the founder, the organization became well-established in its new headquarters. From there, it launched an expansion, first throughout the United States, then worldwide.

And while I'm talking about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the comments I'm about to share apply equally to any organization, non-profit or profit-seeking, that wants to play on the worldwide stage.

The LDS Church has appointed a new Social Media Architect, and it happens to have appointed Jesse Stay - Jesse's the guy who literally (co-)wrote the book on Facebook, and who also created the SocialToo service. Stay is obviously familiar with a number of social media tools, and in this post he happened to mention some of the tools that he will use in his new job:

I will get to not only use Facebook and Twitter to help others benefit society, but on a global scale I’ll get to use Orkut, Hi5, Bebo, and other global networks, and find ways to deeply integrate these technologies into the work the Church is doing, on a global scale and to a mass audience.

Now let's say that you're getting ready to launch a campaign for your business. Perhaps you'll think about using Facebook, or using Twitter, or using MySpace. But how many of us include Orkut, Hi5, and Bebo in our social media communication plans?

If we want to reach a worldwide audience, we need to look at these other tools. For example, let's say that you want to reach people in Brazil. Are you going to use Facebook? Think again:

Orkut is very much a cultural phenomenon in Brazil. Although Brazilians had experience with other social networking sites (Fotolog, for example, was very popular among young Brazilians in 2003 and 2004, before Orkut appeared), Orkut caused a revolution in Internet access in Brazil. As Orkut grew quickly in Brazil starting in 2004, it became synonymous with the Internet. Being on the Internet meant being on Orkut....

According to data recently released by Ibope/NetRatings...73% of all Brazilian Internet users are also Orkut users. Orkut is also rated as the third most accessed Internet domain in Brazil. Because of numbers like these, some researchers even argue that Orkut played a fundamental role in popularizing the Internet in Brazil.

So if you want to reach Brazilians, the question is not whether you should use Orkut - the question is whether you can afford NOT to use Orkut.

However, when making your social media strategic choices, it helps to have up-to-date information. Let's say you want to send your message to the Philippines. Here's what an August 2009 post would have recommended:

Worldwide ranking clearly shows that Yahoo and Facebook are way above Friendster, which has been struggling at the 80-100 spots, and has been slowly faltering over the past few months. Facebook's been at position 3 and 4 worldwide for the past few months already, while Yahoo's been at a constant No. 2 position all year. So, again in terms of worldwide, Friendster isn't as strong and has been dipping.

But not in the Philippines. Checking the records over the past year, Friendster has remained the No. 2 most visited Web site by Filipinos since the late 2007, and has been unseated only a few times (i.e. YouTube outranking it a couple of times). That's a very strong showing for a social-networking site that's been around for nearly a decade and that hasn't really shown much in terms of change and upgrades.

But the same author, Ignatius Javellana, wrote a follow-up post in December:

With Friendster only recently adapting changes in its new format (a complete site revamp plus the focus on more services targeted towards Filipinos), I'm afraid it was too little too late. Recent Alexa rankings for the Philippines have shown that Facebook has now completely overthrown Friendster as the number one social networking site, even unseating heavyweights such as YouTube and Multiply along the way.

So if I can share of wisdom with you, when you craft your worldwide social media strategy, make sure that your information is up-to-date.
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