As companies increasingly focus on building communities for all their constituents globally, it can be a tricky endeavor that involves numerous issues. In most cases, community interaction across separate languages is not necessarily envisioned; instead, each country or language is intended to operate separately from, but perhaps along a similar model as the others. Occasionally, it’s intended that a global English-language community draw users from numerous countries. A certain amount of leverage in the strategic model is assumed, and often quite possible. But here are some of the factors that may vary from country to country: Company business goals.
If product or business model is different across countries, then community goals and execution may vary correspondingly. While leverage is possible, stakeholder interviews will likely turn up important differences that affect all community-related decisions. (Read Pat McGraw’s post on the importance of such interviews.
) Community goals.
Particularly if business goals are different, the results expected from the community will require separate strategic models. Core content.
What’s the core unit of exchange for each community? The business and community goals will indicate the intended participants and community purpose. Community culture and user interface.
While some companies have success with a similarity of cultural metaphor and a user interface that serves communities in numerous countries, others have learned the hard way that it’s better to start with local-based community architecture and design. Everything from content segmentation to graphic design contributes to a community’s sense of place
. If it’s not comfortable, people will go elsewhere. Community management and moderation.
It’s quite likely that certain countries have few resources experienced with social media and online community development. And yet it’s critical that local resources be involved for cultural authenticity and participant acceptance. How will such training be provided, given the various language challenges inherent in the process? Identity of participants.
While Web use is growing everywhere, the cultural factors that affect social interaction, the familiarity that each population has with Web social media, the broad range of Web access, and the amount of time that people have to participate still vary widely. In some places, for example, only a mobile community will do. Country/language combinations.
How many instances of the community are needed? Does each country require a separate community based on either its language or culture? Or is it possible to combine some countries into one common-language instance, segmenting country-specific areas? In many cases, cultural integrity will demand separation. Country privacy policies and regulations.
A global strategy, no matter how it’s implemented, is going to require wading through the myriad of country-based laws related to the Web.
I may be neglecting numerous other issues, and each of those I've called out can be broken into detail. Please chime in with other important considerations to keep in mind when planning community on a global scale.