International Social Media Marketing – Remember Research Helps!

International-social-media-marketingToday, every brand is a global brand. Customers around the world can access your content, discover and interact with other customers, and add their voice to the conversation about your brand. As a marketer you need to be conscious of the different needs of your audiences. This creates some challenges. How do you meet the needs of an audience that speaks multiple languages? How do you appear responsive when your customers are in several time zones? How do you segment and prioritise your social media efforts?

There’s a definite shift going on in social media at the moment. It comes in the form of a major move from seeing social media as something ‘ad hoc’ and tactical to seeing it as something that needs a framework, a strategy and an overall plan in order to actually deliver on its promises. One element of this is the desire by businesses to make sure that their social media works not just locally, but in every market in which they have a presence.

Facebook has indeed become the most popular social network in many countries, but the overall social media landscape is – even in countries where Facebook is no. 1 – way more interesting than that and Facebook shouldn’t always be the first choice. However, it’s not only choosing the right network that matters. If you want to improve your turnover with the help of international social media marketing, as well as increase your brand’s popularity, you’ll have to get acquainted with the culture of your target audience and take a lot of other things into consideration.

When you take a closer look at the social media landscapes in different countries, it becomes obvious that there are still many important players that marketers haven’t discovered as useful platforms to promote their brand. Although Facebook has 1.155 billion monthly active users and an established leadership position in 127 out of 137 countries. Last months Zuckerberg’s Army lost Latvia to Draugiem, which has 2.6 million registered users. In Russian territories there is a long battle between two main local players V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki. In China QZone still dominates the Asian landscape with 611 million users, followed by Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo and RenRen. In Iran, where it’s hard to access Facebook due to state censorship, the leader is Cloob.

So, if you want to target certain audiences in a foreign country via social media marketing, you must first decide on which networks you should be active. International social media studies such as Wave 6 from Universal McCann will then tell you how appropriate social media marketing is for your target audience. In the recent study 65.2% of the respondents worldwide stated that they have been active on a social media profile in the last six months. Countries above this average were Brazil 74.3%, Russia 77.1% and China 68.9%, indicating that social media strategies should therefore be effective in these countries.

In principle the same rules apply for foreign audiences, as well as the domestic market, when it comes to content creation. You have to offer your fans and followers something valuable – that is, informative or entertaining content that would connect potential customers with the company. In general, there are a few rules of content creation for global brands. Don’t rely on Google Translate to create local language content. Always use a professional translation service and have a native speaker to check it. If you can use images wherever possible – pictures and graphics are much easier to digest for international audiences and relevance is critical. Local teams are not just your boots on the ground, but they’re your eyes and ears too. Setup regular conference calls or try to make sure teams or representatives meet face to face as often as they can.

There is something that you must keep in mind though, when targeting a foreign language audience: “foreign language” often means that there are cultural differences to be taken into consideration.  With this in mind you should thoroughly research what kind of content is good and what might be problematic. Brands need to be proactive about this and manage it strategically, without stifling innovation or ignoring local needs and nuances.

The management and measurement of these social media channels should also be a consideration. A social media policy is a good opportunity to ensure everyone understands how the organisation uses social media and helps to establish the ground rules for social media marketing. It also helps to clarify the crises procedure, where you can define what constitutes an issue and describes the escalation process.  Measure a global social media programme in the same way you would measure any campaign. Be sure to establish outcomes that reflect your business goals, then Key Performance Indicators to show progress toward those outcomes.