9 August 2016
How professional bodies can use digital content to gain a global reach
The UK possesses some of the world’s most advanced and forward-thinking membership organisations, but the vote in favour of leaving the European Union has thrown a veil of uncertainty over many established and long-standing trading relationships.
For professional bodies, these are uncertain times. Barriers that restrict trade in Europe, or beyond, could damage their authority and international standing; but in an increasingly interconnected world, the option to communicate through digital channels could help create new opportunities and enhance the influence of the professions represented by these organisations.
Lots of local
If you’re a professional body looking to build a content programme that talks successfully to the world about standards and best practice in your industry, how should you go about it?
Do you amend your message to broaden its appeal? Or do you take universal themes and supply them in a way that makes them work in specific areas or regions? How, exactly, does a single organisation appeal to so many different people?
Well, instead of thinking of a global audience as a single entity, it might be useful to consider a series of local audiences that share commonalities, but remain unique.
Large newspaper websites may rely on a finite volume of content, but those targeting several markets often serve up multiple versions of the same site with a differing editorial focus on each to suit local appetites.
If resources allow, professional bodies might well consider enhancing their offering in a similar way: with website editions tailored for particular local markets or regions.
This might be as simple as offering different language versions of a site, or adapting same-language content to enhance its appeal across multiple territories.
If the latter course of action is of interest, then there are two principal ways of ‘localising’ content: creating multiple versions of the same article, or developing new material for each area.
In versioning, a single piece of content is fashioned before a series of changes are added to create local ‘versions’. These changes could be adding local examples to enhance key messages; changing the editorial focus to account for cultural differences; or allowing for grammatical and spelling variation.
For example, the new content could examine the application of best practice within the local legal framework or ponder implementation of new ways of working where varying levels of technical ability or agreed standards exist.
Once created, this local content could sit ‘on top’ of the core content in each regional digital edition.
Email and social
In the same way that email campaigns can be segmented between various domestic audience groups, specialist newsletters, with varied content, can be formulated for oversees regions and territories.
Similarly, a targeted social media presence can be established through specialised Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, or Twitter accounts that can be used to promote social content that has been ‘versioned’ for specific regions or territories and drive engagement.
To ensure campaigns achieve the maximum impact, it could also be necessary to automate cross-platform publication to take account of different working weeks, time zones, and local responses to the messaging.
For those organisations that find raising awareness away from their own markets challenging, a partnership with a local media brand or organisation, followed by an extensive digital media campaign, can be an effective way to introduce themselves to a potential new set of members or customers.
Oversight and management
Running multiple websites, versioning, creating local content, overseeing complex email and administering social media campaigns that truly engage can be a tricky and time-consuming business – and that’s just the day-to-day management.
Add into that mix content strategy planning, analytical oversight, and the reporting necessary to run an effective global programme and the package starts to look like one requiring specialist technology and assistance.
For any membership organisation looking to establish and/or nurture a global presence, the most vital step they can take is appointing the right digital content agency.
Ideally, that agency would have the necessary skills to develop content and run engaging campaigns, or have experience of effectively developing an international audience, or perhaps even have the strategic know-how that comes from working regularly with professional bodies on their editorial output.
Yes, that would be good. What would be better, is if they could deliver all three.