Balancing global brand consistency with local engagement

By Béatrice Frey @BeaFrey, Global Social Media Lead, @UN_Women

facebook-un-womenManaging a global network of digital communications and social media work is not easy. It is challenging to preserve a consistent brand while allowing the necessary flexibility to adequately communicate and reach an audience at the local and global levels.

At UN Women, the youngest UN agency, we had a unique opportunity to start fresh when we were created by the UN General Assembly in 2010. Mindful of the importance to establish UN Women’s brand globally, as well as of extremely limited staff capacity in Communications worldwide, the initial focus and strategy was to start with one global account per language. This allowed us first to build a global audience and focus content creation on a few select platforms. We then expanded our strategy a few years later to roll out regional accounts. This helped to better represent content relevant to the different regions, which were responsible to showcase UN Women’s work in each of their countries.

Soon after that, our Country Offices increasingly started to express an interest in managing their own social media platforms, instead of only contributing content to the regional accounts. The value colleagues saw in separate platforms, especially Twitter, was to reach a more targeted audience. We subsequently broadened our policy to allow for national accounts, if long-term staff capacity was guaranteed.

If a Country Office is interested in engaging in social media, they prepare a social media plan to outline objectives, target audience, capacity and suggested platforms. After review and approval by us in the HQ Social Media Team, we roll out all pages centrally in line with the global branding, yet visually customized to their countries. As part of the policy, we have access to all UN Women accounts for security reasons. We provide training and detailed guidance notes on all aspects of their social media work, and hand over the platforms for their daily management. One step of our continued guidance that we believe is much appreciated by colleagues in the field is the detailed feedback we provide to each office annually in PowerPoint format. We illustrate through screen shots what we think colleagues are doing well, and what we think can be improved.

unwomen-image-1This strategic and integrated approach to our global social media work has allowed us to preserve consistency in branding and messaging, and to avoid dead pages that were created ad hoc or left behind by former colleagues, which would deduct from our authenticity as an organization. It also allows for amplification of best-performing content across platforms, which in turn strengthens the brand.

Today, we have 90+ pages in 14 languages with a total of 6.1+ million followers. We share analytics and give shout-outs for great posts and highly-ranked pages in a bimonthly news update to our social media focal points. This gives recognition and provides motivation to do even better. For our various social media campaigns, we provide packages with suggested content and design files for translations and local adaptations to push out our content consistently and support field colleagues with multilingualism.

unwomen-image-3We still struggle with underfunded Communications capacity in our offices, but colleagues have embraced social media as a key tool to reach their diverse audiences. We are more aware than ever of internal and external limitations, especially those created through the Facebook algorithm. The algorithm favours bigger pages that post several times per day and put money behind their content, and places smaller pages with fewer posts per week at a consistent disadvantage. It is therefore even more strategic to carefully consider new Facebook pages and take advantage of existing larger pages instead, where content can be targeted to a specific audience.