Europeans don’t believe in the EU. At least a big chunk of those that went to the #eurovote2014 don’t. Otherwise one cannot explain the votes that were casted in favor of the eurosceptics and the outright populist parties. Sad but true. And I say that mainly because Europeans don’t really understand what a European Union means. They seem to expect the EU to fix all the leaks their home-states have, to solve all their misgivings or to fight successfully corruption. They want magic wands and see the European Union more as a disappointment then as a hope of a brighter unified future.

What the European Union needs to do is to talk to people in the digital media, print and on air. It needs to explain what the European Union stands for. To each and everyone. It has to show that it cares, but most of all that a union is a union; it is not a fairy with a magic wand.  It needs to educate the citizens in one tone and one message all over the members’ territory in their own language and with the specifics each culture has.

The EU needs to be present at all major media channels with a single voice in all respective formats. That voice, however, should be tailored to all 28 state members’ languages and cultures. If there is an infographic, it should be made available in every language. If there is a video, it should at least have the subtitles in the local channels it is published, better yet dubbed respectively. The general information on all text and image social media channels should be made in a local language and the original one.

For all this to happen, the European Union needs to establish a strong team with on a global and local level with well-defined guidelines and procedures for both European wide and local content feeds, conversation management and trends spotting/research. This team should be acting not only as a provider of education on the topic European Union, but also to engage the online and offline community in a conversation meeting their requirements. The communication strategy, especially on social channels, should be a product of not only high level management, but also taking into consideration the input of local teams – impressions on local target audience behavior, needs and wanted improvements.

This is a long-term effort – a marathon, not a sprint. Europe can be truly unified only if its citizen can identify themselves as Europeans just as much as they identify themselves as French, Bulgarian or British.

The above text was originally submitted as an entry for the #Talkdigital blogging competition conducted by the European Commission’s social media team in June 2014. The cap was set at 500 words, so I’ll be expanding a bit below now that I am on my own terms and domain.

A bit over two years ago I blogged “On Your Social Media Messages“. There I made the argument that the social networks strategy should be based on six considerations – relevance, personas, timing, constructing the moment, experience and ongoing experiments with the status updates. I believe this lays down the high level starting point for a multinational social media strategy. Naturally, this framework needs to be filled up with additional strategic and tactical approaches and actions. But these depend on digging up information through research and analysis of steps already taken on the variety of social channels the European Commission manages – performance figures, social sentiments, etc.

I believe the most crucial of the six elements I have mentioned in the previous paragraph is “personas”. Learning more about the European citizen and what drives him/her, how he/she thinks, what he/she wants to understand, experience or get from following the commission. The different personas will also determine the tone and the level of complexity an infographic, status or video should have. These will also help create an agile and working approach to the digital communication through segmentation per persona, channel and even message.

Have an opinion? Discuss in the comment section below! Also, be sure to read the winning post – “A permanent digital helpdesk service for the EU

Copyright © 2014 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.