Social media can be a steep learning curve for digital marketers.

With new platforms, changing roles and evolving customer demands, maintaining an effective social strategy across the board is never easy.

If fact, it is often incredibly challenging.

For more in-depth case studies and analysis, check out our Social Media Best Practice Guide.

Meanwhile, with a few examples of how some brands have overcome them, here are just four of the biggest challenges facing strategists today.

Choosing between a global & local strategy

Finding out how to manage social media across multiple countries requires careful planning. 

The biggest factor for companies to consider is whether to have a global or local strategy. Without a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, the best solution can be surprisingly hard to figure out. 

While one company might benefit from a global strategy – where consistency across all channels will be guaranteed – another might find that the opportunity to speak to an audience in a colloquial or cultural context outweighs this.

What’s more, if a global team tries to implement localisation, the risk of gaffes and blunders through lack of cultural understanding is always high.

For many companies, while they may be costly and tricky to manage, the decision to employ local, in-house teams often proves to be the most successful.

Take Starbucks for example. Through its various regional channels, it manages to combine its core brand values with local and contextually crafted messages for each specific audience.

Starbucks US

Starbucks UK

Maintaining brand reputation

It’s a daunting prospect to hold a brand’s entire reputation in your hands. However, for anyone tweeting on behalf of an organisation, this is often the reality.

As this responsibility can fall on a variety of shoulders – from experienced editors to inexperienced social media execs –  it is vital that brands set up proper guidelines for all employees to follow.

Naturally, this can in itself prove to be an incredibly difficult task.

After all, if a company is well-known for being ‘edgy’, where should it draw the line? Without clear guidelines, boundaries can become dangerously blurry.

Having clearly defined rules can mean the difference between a funny tweet and a downright offensive one.

Resolving issues

While effective brand guidelines can help to prevent social media gaffes, no brand can guarantee that an audience won’t take offence – even if it is entirely unintentional.

In this case, the biggest challenge for social media strategists is crafting the best response possible.

For many brands, the tendency to use Twitter as a customer care platform can lead to knee-jerk reactions.

However, this can easily spiral out of control. If you reply to one tweet, you might feel obliged to reply to them all, ultimately leading to a loss of credibility and reputation.

A good example of how to overcome a situation like this is restaurant chain GBK.

Due to an ad campaign using various slogans like “resistance is futile” and “they eat grass so you don’t have to”, the brand was unsurprisingly inundated with angry tweets from its vegan and vegetarian customers.

However, instead of giving an immediate and defensive reaction, the brand came to the decision to wait, plan and eventually issue an appropriate and considered response.

Ensuring consistency and conversation

The temptation to use social media solely as a broadcasting platform is undeniable. 

While promoting products or campaigns is an integral part of a brand’s strategy, ensuring content is both relevant and valuable is vital.

Instead of basic self-promotion, the challenge for companies is to find ways to create content that reflects its brand values and personality, as well as encourages conversation.

Alongside this, a consistent posting schedule and confident tone of voice is similarly important when it comes to keeping an audience engaged. 

A great example of a brand that succeeds on social media is diaper brand Pampers. 

Realising the potential to create a brand community, it uses its social media channels as a place for parents to converse with each other, as well as interact with the brand.

By creating hashtags to spark conversation and using original abbreviations like ‘LO’ (little one), it has managed to create its own unique style and tone – and one that resonates with its target audience. 

For more on this topic, check out the Social Media Best Practice Guide, or book yourself onto one of our social training courses.