When it came time to create a global communications strategy at C3/CustomerContactChannels, the marketing team spent some serious time thinking about how to best approach social media.
It's true that the Internet doesn't have borders, but that only goes so far with social media. Different governments approach social media, and the Internet itself, with various degrees of tolerance. And there are always cultural differences to consider.
C3 wasn't interested in simply pursuing “likes” around the world, said Alicia Laszewski, VP-communications and marketing. Instead, the company wanted to create a community with two functions: a place where employees in its far-flung offices could communicate with each other and reinforce the company's culture, and also where clients could get a taste of how the company operated.
This made sense, considering C3 operates customer service centers in several countries in North America, Europe and Asia.
“We decided to be less focused on hitting numbers,” Laszewski said. “We didn't want just 2,000 'likes.' We wanted those 2,000 people to interact with us.”
Laszewski said C3 felt it was important to have a single social media channel worldwide rather than one devoted to every country. The idea was to create a cohesive global voice.
The rationale behind focusing exclusively on Twitter and Facebook was similar. The company chose the social media channels with the widest global reach.
Once the sites were was up and running, C3 began using them for marketing purposes with an important international twist. Domestically, marketers often sequester their social media strategies as pure marketing activities. For example, employees are not encouraged to participate on the Facebook pages of many large domestic corporations.
C3, however, actively invited clients to participate in the semi-internal conversations on its Facebook page.
“It's become an open forum where employees and clients interact,” Laszewski said. “It's been very effective because our business is so people-intensive. Our clients are trusting us to manage their brands in front of their most valuable assets, their customers. So having this kind of unfiltered visibility with our employees is nice.”
“Unfiltered” is a key part of the effort. C3 is very loose about posting rules on the company Facebook wall. Employees and clients are allowed to post whatever they want; even employees who have been recently furloughed have taken to the wall. The only exception is in regard to photos, which must be sent to the corporate office where they are uploaded.
“Our big problem has been keeping up with demand,” Laszewski said. “Everybody would like to see themselves [in photos], and some offices would post pictures all day if we let them. So anybody can post on the wall, but no one except us can upload pictures.”
So far, Laszewski hasn't had to contend with too many overseas regulations governing the use of social media. The exception so far has been China, which doesn't allow Facebook at all.
Similarly, the new European Union rule that went into effect May 26, limiting marketers' ability to collect information from browser-based cookies within EU countries, hasn't yet affected C3.
According to the so-called “cookie law,” marketers must receive explicit opt-in consent to collect and track cookies, as well as provide browsers with detailed information on how the data gathered is used.