Going Global With Social Media

Going Global With Social Media

Top tips for international social media marketing

Companies hoping to conquer the world in 2014 should seriously consider using the powerful weapon that is social media. But how should you ensure that you manage your international social media successfully?

Benefits of social media for international marketing

Increased globalisation may have opened more doors for businesses than ever before, but it brings with it huge challenges. Luckily, best practice approaches exist for businesses looking to launch social media internationally.

First and foremost, brands need to ensure that they are communicating in the native language of their target audience. So they should consider translating all those Facebook statuses, tweets and LinkedIn updates for different audiences. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

For a start, you need to appreciate the tangible benefits of social media:

  • global reach
  • large audience – and increasing all the time
  • speed of information distribution
  • low technology costs

No other medium is as successful in getting brand messages across as social media.

The B2C Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report for North American firms shows:

  • social media is the most popular marketing platform among B2C firms
  • B2B and B2C marketers each use a typical six platforms through which to publish content
  • Facebook (89%), Twitter (80%) and YouTube (72%) are the most popular
  • followed by Google+ (55%), Pinterest (53%) and Instagram (53%)

It’s a similar story in the UK. Social media is UK marketing teams’ favourite marketing platform with 87% usage, according to the Content Marketing in the UK 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends study:

  • Twitter is the most popular social media podium in the UK with 89%
  • followed by LinkedIn (85%), Facebook (75%) and YouTube (65%)
  • Google+ (55%), Pinterest (42%) and SlideShare (33%) make up the top seven platforms

But these platforms may not be the best ones to reach audiences in other regions.

What are some good international social media platforms?

Selecting the best international social media platforms for reaching a global audience can be key. Here are just a few examples:

  • Weibo: this Twitter-style Chinese micro-blogging platform boasts 500 million users. The site has just expanded into Indonesia and Singapore
  • Orkut: with companies cashing in on the business opportunities afforded by the upcoming festival of football in Brazil, this Google-operated site is extensively used there as well as India
  • Badoo: what do you get when you cross a social network and instant messaging? Badoo. The London-based platform has proven extremely useful to businesses who benefit from its reach to 180 countries across the globe
  • XING: this German-founded global social network rival to LinkedIn is tailored to business communities across over 200 countries. People use it to find jobs and apply for them. They can also take part in group talks across a range of 50,000 different sectors and work together on business suggestions
  • hi5: this California-based site brings people together through shared interests and games, extending its reach to emerging economies in countries such as areas of Central Africa and Latin America

How to manage your global social media:

1. Start with research

The dynamics of trade don’t alter just because they cross borders, so keep the same essential laws throughout your campaign: know your audience and get to understand their likes and dislikes through data collection and research. Then use these insights to develop your offering and craft your messages.

2. Understand cultural sensitivities and norms

Every region your organisation attempts to operate in has its own set of cultural nuances. Content that delights users in one country might have the opposite effect in another.  Therefore a wholesale approach to social media marketing is not recommended.

This highlights the importance of the research phase of your social media strategy. The more thorough your research, the more unlikely you are to fall into cross-border misunderstandings.

3. Learn about your audiences’ online habits

What devices do people in your target markets use to access the web? What time are they most likely to go online? How might this inform your global social media strategy? US social networking, for example, peaks at 4pm, according to the State of the Media Advertising and Audiences study.

Then you have to factor in all the different global time zones and different types of consumer. Every business will experience different results. So dig into your website analytics reports, survey your user base regularly and use the various tools provided by your social media platform to analyse user behaviour and adjust your approach accordingly.

4. Practice localised marketing

Why send the same message to a sleeping India in the middle of the night that is hitting France during the day? Achieving a captive audience means understanding as well as timing.

So arm yourself against misunderstandings by employing your own human translation teams or use a reputable translation agency to sculpt your social media messages for local audiences. Failure to do so runs the risk of your business alienating large sections of your target market.

In some cases, you many need to compromise. For example, an English/Spanish mix on, for example, a Facebook page could hook cross-generational Latino-American audiences better than a purely Spanish one. In Canada, you could even divide (or duplicate) your messages between English and French.

5. Employ a dedicated multi-lingual social media team

Yes, it may cost time and money, but think about the rewards if you put the effort in. Native speakers of the local language will be much more successful in engaging with your target audience.

These teams should preferably be located in the same region as your audience so that they are available to immediately respond to any customer queries or comments. However, it is possible to have a happy medium of a centralised team to develop your social media strategy and local teams to implement it.

Whatever your approach, communication between your teams is critical to achieving success.

Remember, however, that regional staffing requires additional funds and supervision. So start small and scale your teams according to consumer demand.

And if you need a hand with your multi-lingual social media marketing, contact us.

Written by Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf is Head of Digital at TranslateMedia. He has an interest in how technology can help businesses achieve their marketing objectives. He's been working in digital marketing and web development since 2001 across a wide range of industries and clients.

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