One of the toughest challenges facing brands in social media is how to manage activities across different countries and cultures.

The problem has been around for a while, but as the social media population grows and spreads out across multiple platforms, it's actually getting more complex.

The issue boils down to one straightforward question: should we have a single brand presence in social media, or create a number of tailored presences for different audiences?

Despite the question's simplicity, however, there's no 'silver bullet' answer; different brands will have different objectives to achieve, and different audiences to engage through social activities.

Moreover, a number of practical issues - such as whether everyone in your audience can even access the same platforms - will play a part in determining the answer.

So how do you decide which approach is most appropriate for your brand's needs?

The answer lies in understanding the 5Cs of multi-market social media management:

1. Conversation
Can everyone in your audience understand a common language? Do they speak it well enough to engage in meaningful dialogue with you and other members of the audience?

2. Culture
How does your audience behave in social media? Is everybody equally comfortable expressing themselves in public channels, or will more vocal members of the audience dominate a particular conversation?

3. Commonalities
Can everyone in your audience access the same social platform? Do they all use it for the same reasons? Can you add value to everyone's social experience in ways that satisfy their expectations and motivations for using that platform? Can you really demonstrate affinity with all of them at the same time?

4. Country needs
Can you address all your local markets' needs with a single social presence? Will local teams feel sufficiently engaged with a central social profile to make sure it is a success in their given territories?

5. Challenges
Are the legislative guidelines common across all your markets? Do differences in legislation mean you'd be highly restricted in what you could deliver through a central profile? Are there timezone differences that stretch activities beyond the working day of one central team? Are your social activities sensitive to real-time developments around the world?

The answers to these questions will be slightly different for every brand, so it's important to address each of them in the context of your specific business needs and audiences.

To help with that process, here's a presentation that I gave on managing social media around the world at Social Media World Forum Asia a few weeks ago:

It's designed to raise more questions than it actually answers, but working through each of these questions will ensure you're much better placed to develop a social media strategy that's optimised for your brand's context.

Of course, if you need any help answering those questions, we'd be more than happy to help you find the best approach for your brand - just drop us an email with your specific questions and challenges.