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Oct 15, 2007
Blog Post

SherpaBlog: International Blogging Blunders - How Blogs Differ in Other Cultures

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

Attention: If you know a grad student looking for a thesis topic, cross-cultural blogging differences might be a good one.

As part of my ongoing move to my new home in Serbia, I�ve volunteered as a guest blogger for a major media site, giving the American perspective on Serbian life in my spare time. (Don�t look for it; I use a pen name because I don�t want anyone expecting marketing advice or anything.)

I�ve been blogging in the US for Sherpa since 2001, so I thought I knew a thing or two about it. I was wrong. Turns out, as with any other social interaction, blogging in other countries can be a completely different experience. In the case of Serbia, you get way, way more comments. In the US, a highly engaging blog might get one comment per hundred readers. Maybe. On a good day.

In Serbia, 100 typical readers may post 70 or more comments!

Plus, the Serbs have definitely let me know they think it�s very impolite for the blogger not to be actively engaged, in nearly real-time, in the ensuing conversation among the commenting audience. When I did respond, very tentatively at first, to comments posted on my blog posts, the reaction was unanimous: �Wow, you�re not like the other Americans! Why do other Americans never respond? They are so rude.�

I can absolutely bet that not one of the other Americans who have on occasion posted to this media site�s blog realized they were being rude. They were simply blogging the American way. You say what you have to say and then you stand back and let the commenters have at it.

If there�s a major question or confusion, you might dive in, but usually not.

What implications does this have for US marketers? If your company or brand is global, be aware that blogging, online community tactics and even email outreach need to be adjusted by culture. You can�t just post a translated version of the CEO�s blog and expect it to work.

Ask your local staff and take a look at local blogs (even if you can�t read them) so you see the nature of the interaction. Don�t be an Ugly American by mistake like I almost was.

If you have had experience on this front in other countries, please comment here to let the rest of us know of other international blog rules or differences we should know about. I know I�ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.

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Comments about this Blog Entry

Oct 15, 2007 - Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing consultant/author of says:
Fascinating, Anne. My wife teaches cross-cultural communication in her business classes, and I'll forward the link to her. I have been aware of these issues for a long time (touch on them in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First)--but not the specifics of blogging in Serbia. Even as far back as 1996 when I opened my first website, I had a message on my home page translated into several languages. I took it down after a couple of years, because Spaniards didn't like the Mexican translation, Germans didn't like the Swiss-German translation, etc. ___ I show the world the value in your values! Shel Horowitz, award-wining author, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First Founder of the Business Ethics Pledge,

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