Many businesses are trying hard to reach out to their customers (existing and potential) on Twitter, including GLOBUL. The majority are doing that by communicating their messages in a variety of languages. And as it might seem obvious, large companies are segmenting their strategies based on a more regional than linguistic factors. Companies like Amazon, Lufthansa, Sony, and many others are speaking on a much focused regional level in addition to their global accounts.

Today, I noticed that one of Bulgaria’s telecom’s (@GLOBULPR) is tweeting about a Force Majeure circumstance in English… I quickly (and probably not very empathetically) shared my surprise that they do it in English. Almost immediately two of the tweeps I follow pointed out that there is also a @GLOBULBulgaria account that communicates in Bulgarian. And this made me even more curious and reflect a bit on the matter.

But before we go any further, let’s put some figures into the story! GLOBUL is the second-largest Bulgarian GSM/UMTS operator. It has 3.9 Mn subscribers of which some 58% are contract-based ones and 42% are on pre-paid services. (Source Wikipedia) In 2011, Bulgaria had 7,364,570 people in terms of population – 84.8% Bulgarians, 8.8% Turkish, 4.9% Roma, and 0.7% of 40 smaller minorities. (Source Wikipedia) Within the period January – December 2010 Bulgaria was visited by a total of 8,374,034 foreigners. (Source – Official Tourism Portal of Bulgaria) And if you are a data geek, the stats from the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute on tourism will be just for you.

GLOBUL on Twitter stats as of March 15, 2013 show:

@GLOBULPR – 124 tweets, 43 following, 109 followers

@GLOBULBulgaria – 983 tweets, 78 following, 1084 followers

Looking at these numbers and knowing a thing or two about Bulgaria, the natural question “Why do they need an English Twitter account” popped up in my head right away. There are pros and cons here, so let’s make a list!

Pros:

  1. The company looks more international while trying to cater in two languages to its customer base.
  2. The presumably larger reach of GLOBUL’s communication efforts.
  3. A more targeted approach to tourists from the UK that seems to be the faster-growing tourist group visiting Bulgaria for winter sports and summer holidays at the Black Sea.
  4. Competitive advantage against @vivacom and @MobiltelBG (the other two Bulgarian telecoms). The former tweets exclusively in Bulgarian and the latter only does RTs in English.

Cons:

  1. How many of the current GLOBUL’s customers in Bulgaria are actually English-speaking, on Twitter and they are willing to follow the company’s tweets?
  2. Inconsistency in Twitter handles naming – Company Name + Country or Department. This is a bit confusing.
  3. A number of marketing messages – 983 in Bulgarian versus 124 in English.  Why the difference?
  4. Provided two different employees are handling the respective GLOBUL twitter accounts, isn’t this a bit off-target on ROI?

Although I admire the effort of having two separate Twitter accounts based on linguistic segmentation, I cannot help but think of a couple business issues that surely GLOBUL is facing:

  1. The English channel seems to be not living up to its purpose… for now…. – 109 followers only. Is it really part of the Marketing Mix? And does really the effort pay off?
  2. Tourism brings a certain amount of revenue and this is without a question. But has the idea of having a Turkish channel been really explored? Especially having in mind that 8.8% of the population in 2011 declared that they belong to the Turkish minority and the fact many Turkish citizens visit Bulgaria.

And here are some questions I have for you, the readers of this post.

Does it make sense for a company that strictly operates within the borders of a certain country to have separate Twitter accounts based on the language used?

Do you have any examples of other companies doing so?

Do you follow you, mobile service provider, on Twitter?

Copyright © 2013 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.