Think Globally Small or You Won't Be Global
My talk at Shift  was a success, at least according to my own little standards. It rambled about culture as the next challenge for companies, but also for social web services and even plain websites. The idea is that if success comes through making the user feel at home when they come and visit your website, that home has to be their home, and not yours.
I remember Ted Rheingold asking himself, at Reboot in 2007, why dogster.com was successful in the US and unexpectedly, in Singapore, but nowhere else really. Facebook has had a hard time getting into Germany to some extent, because studiVz has the lead on that market. Same occurs in Asia, where other websites have the high hand on the social networking market.
The reason for this? It could well be that the lingering hegemonic Americanism of Facebook is the problem. As a French living in Germany, having studied in the US, France and Austria, I am stuck with a choice of network that amounts to a country and counts 567,732 people (Germany Network). Out of my 458 Facebook contacts, 20 are in that Germany network. Facebook won't even let me join the United World Colleges Network, of which about 100 of my contacts are issued, because it does not recognize the email address.
Mind you, Facebook is the one place where I've been able to gather most of the people I know, but it still lacks some basic features in terms of networking, which address particularities of countries such as France for example, where universities are not the main networking medium. A breakdown in cities or even more general geographic areas would already be a plus.
All of this is pure speculation of course, but I am rather convinced that in order to go global, you need to think global. And think global does not mean think in big chunks (ie. the world is mine), but rather be aware that the world is made of thousands of little bits and pieces that people are willing to associate with. For some people, it will be their universities, for others, it will be their Land or their département, even their home city.
Of the 8 points given as difficulties to enter the Asian market by Asiajin, I would say the three following are the most important:
1. No formal internationalization/ ...enter specific country here entry strategy
4. Incomplete localization（Translation, Content, Pricing, Branding(name, colours, etc.), Features, Business model)
8. Local legislation
And I would add a fourth:
Humility, ie. being convinced that other cultures have different needs and don't necessarily want to "adapt" to your ways.