Global vs Local

Global vs Local

Although I’m new to the world of print publishing, I have been writing online for a while. The more I time I spend writing online, the more I learn about how it works. But it’s not a quick process; it’s an ever changing scary world, so it’s hard to keep up.

Being thrown into the deep end at the Digital Content Summit at the British Museum yesterday was a sink-or-swim type of experience for me. I needed to learn how to swim, quick.

There were several key messages that I took away from the summit, and I wanted to share some them. Putting thoughts onto paper (screen?) seems to help me understand them a bit better…. I hope.

The first speaker, Luca Forin, said something that became a talking point for the rest of the summit. A lot of his talk focussed on how the world is becoming increasingly mobile everyday, and so we should be thinking more globally. “Don’t be constrained by [geographical] boundaries, it just doesn’t make sense anymore.”

Forlin stressed that you should create content for local audiences, but make is accessible and applicable to global ones. And yet, having thought about this, it didn’t make all that much sense to me.

Local news can be extremely specific to a local area, so firstly this idea depends on where your “local area” really is. Is it your local village, the town or city in which you live or even the country?

Those in Massechusets won’t care much about the local council decisions made in Guildford, UK. So whether you make this accessible or not, it isn’t really relevant to them.

But for me, this argument of global content didn’t fit the the “Content is King” argument that was also making the rounds at the Summit. Many of the speakers were adamant that it is the content on your websites and digital platforms that will bring in the customers/readers etc. SEO just doesn’t do the trick anymore. It helps, but if the content the SEO is helping isn’t any good, you’ll very quickly start pissing people off and they won’t come and visit your site.

So it didn’t fit because content is audience specific. At the conference I spoke to the lady that runs the social media marketing for Clarins. She told me that the Clarins audience in the US has a very different social media scene compared to those in the UK. In the US, their social media is all about celebrity spots. In the UK, this wouldn’t work, she said. Here, Clarins is a luxury brand, to be enjoyed as a special treat, not about which celebrity walked into the store.

So Clarins is taking their content and re-shaping it to suit different audiences. This isn’t the same as making one piece of content for one audience and hoping it satisfies your global audience too.

The way content is shared also makes the global vs local argument difficult to follow. Each country will have a different way of sharing it’s media. In China for example, the most popular social media sites are QZONE, Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo. Many of us in the west won’t have heard of these sites, but over there they reach 712, 507 and 500 million people respectively.

Most of the business, blogs and online dwellers in the western world share the majority of their content via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +. These are unlikely to reach the millions of people in far eastern countries. So really, the content isn’t going global, per se, you’re just increasing the area defined as local.

And yet, as the internet is becoming more capable of targeting specific content to a specific user by tracking their movements on the web, is the concept of global content really any use at all? Isn’t it all becoming more and more personal? Part of Forlin’s talk was focussed on exactly this. The individual user journey is key to their ongoing engagement with your content. If they see things that mean nothing to them, then they won’t hang around.

Then again, where ever you go, everyone seems to like cats.

These are just my thoughts and questions. Please, if you have anything to add or comment on, I’d love for you to get involved and help me develop my rambling ideas.