Creating an international marketing social media strategy

The great thing about social media is that whether you are a small shop or a multi-national conglomerate, you can advertise yourself to the 3.5 billion active internet users with as much or little investment as you want. Accompanied with social media, it is a great sales and customer service tool.

The global appeal of social media means that your business is not limited by physical proximity of premises. However, before venturing out into the global marketplace, there are a few hurdles when devising an international social media strategy.

Consider Your Available Resources

The size of the budget available will be able to determine many things. A larger budget means better response times, ability to engage on a local level, provide meaningful content and the number of different countries you can target.

A lower budget will have to compromise on some of these, most likely the number of countries you can target. If you have a lower budget, try aiming for a territory that is similar to your current territory as this will lower research, content creation costs along with the reduce cost of not using a translator.

Choose the Right Social Networks for Each Territory (and your target audience)

It’s easy to fall into the trap and assume that the most popular social media platforms are similar to your own country. The most common assumption is that Facebook will be dominant in each country due to being the largest social platform in the world in terms of users (1.71 billion as of October 2016). While Facebook is the most popular in a lot of countries, there are some countries where Facebook is either non-existent, blocked or vastly less popular. Below is a list of some countries where Facebook isn’t the most popular option:

  • China: population 1.357 billion. Most popular social network: QZone
  • Iran: population 77.45 million. Most popular social network: Facenama
  • Russia: population 143.5 million. Most popular social network: V Kontakte
  • Japan: population 127.3 million. Most popular social network: Twitter.

It is best to do your research into which platform is best to use in each territory (while also looking at their core demographics) and ensure they fit your target audience.

Know How Your Audience Use Social Media & Take Advantage

People use different social media networks for a variety of different reasons. In the UK, entertaining or informative content does best on most platforms in terms of engagement, impressions or ROI.

Other countries will use social media for different purposes too. For example, many social network users will share music or videos with friends. South America will like to share opinions and blog about their lives/interests. Research into the uses of social media in your target territories will help in the adapting and curating of the content relevant to the country.

Create/Adapt Content for Localisation

Creating content that is relevant for people will receive the most amount of attention and ROI. Irrelevant content will simply be ignored and result in wasted money and time. If you are talking about a TV show that is only shown in the UK, why will a Chinese audience be interested? You will need to find a way to make it relevant for that territory.

When posting content, it is always good to do research before proceeding:

  • Keep up-to-date with current events in your target markets. This will provide possible brand-jacking opportunities but also help prevent accidental distasteful posts – such as the exceeding bad DiGiorno #WhyIStayed fail.
  • Know what is legal to post and what isn’t. Some Middle East and Asian countries have a list of keywords that may result in your account being banned. An example is the UAE (United Arab Emirates). The UAE will ban anyone offending or critical of individuals, authorities or country and, in particular, serious cases when posting from within the UAE, may result in prosecution.
  • An obvious one, but always ensure that you are posting in the local language. Google translate is suitable for those on a lower budget but the translation may be broken. But for those who have a large budget, it may be wise to invest in a dedicated translator or freelancer.
  • Be wary of spelling and grammar mistakes. Despite being the same language, many territories will use different spellings and words for the same thing. Colour or color? Elevator or lift?
  • Use local times for posting. When you post in the UK, it may be posting at an optimal hour. But if you are looking to gain traction in Australia (9/10 hours ahead of the UK), it may be wasted effort as many of them will be asleep.

Continue to Do What You Do Best: Be Proactive and Engage with Your Audience

Once you have devised your strategy for a particular market, it is time to keep take action and engage your audience. Being proactive and engaging with your audience is what turns a brand alive. Offering posts that are dull or irrelevant is counter-productive and will just result in wasted time and money.

It is this engagement that transcends borders and language and when combined with these tips, will result in international social media marketing success.

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