Global Social Media:
How to Expand Your Reach
Social media is a fundamental shift in the way the world communicates today. The “Arab Spring” showed how Facebook helped fuel a revolution and Facebook’s user base has doubled in Egypt in the last 12 months. Politicians in India have discovered that social media is a great way to connect to voters, and other countries are learning about this changing paradigm shift for mobilizing individuals and doing business.
Today, 42 percent of all web users live in Asia, almost 25 percent are based in Europe, while over a tenth live in Latin America. Facebook has saturated the US market and is growing quickly internationally.
For companies looking to grow their global revenue, traveling overseas to find distributors or partners, or exhibiting in trade shows abroad is expensive.
Social media marketing is often the most cost-effective way to generate web traffic and find new sales leads today. Using social media marketing for international branding and marketing opens up overseas distribution channels without the high cost of foreign travel.
International online marketing in foreign languages will also help find and identify distributors and retailers, and then “prime the pump” by marketing and branding directly to consumers for sales through resellers. Companies can do this from their home offices to manage international sales and marketing or to establish a “beachhead” to determine market strategy, gain feedback, understand their customers better and build a buzz.
If the company’s goal is to sell directly online in foreign countries through an e-Commerce platform, the technical set up is easy. But all the language and cultural nuances need to be addressed to help buyers feel secure that you understand their needs and will support them after the sale.
A company with a headquarters in the US could have customers in an unlimited number of countries. Merchants can have multiple websites in multiple languages, or a site in Germany can look exactly like a US site, if that’s preferred. Depending on the platform, overhead can be reduced because there is one dashboard for all sites integrating in real time and using real-time currency rates. And if you want to advertise in and process host countries’ currencies, excellent global marketing firms can steer you to equally excellent resources to do so.
Google and other search engines love fresh content. This is done with links back to your multi-language websites and international social media channels, with content that users click and respond to. This helps cross-pollinate your efforts and is telling Google that your content is valuable to an audience. This in turn increases your page rankings and Google quality score.
Google is dominant around the world, but not in all countries. An expert social media agency will know what other platforms will work for your market and goals. Merchants will need to update Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques for new markets and websites unique to certain countries. Most e-commerce providers will work with an SEO firm, and they need to find one that has international capabilities.
Global social media and multi-lingual websites: How to start?
- Decide which countries and markets to target. That depends on where you have sales now vs. where you want to be and the overall strategy whether supported through e-commerce or local sales offices. A call center supporting those countries is an added expense internally or calls can be inexpensively and easily provided through a language localization agency’s telephonic interpreting service. These work 365/24/7 in over 100 languages and dialects.
- Test market using one-page landing pages to evaluate products and services, ad copy, pricing options, and sales campaigns all at a low cost.
- Set up separate Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels by country rather than language. French is spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, much of Africa and elsewhere, but each has a different audience and different cultural references. And Spanish speakers in the US â€” an approximate market of 40 million are usually a missed opportunity but often need to be addressed in Spanish.
- Research what social media channel will work best in each country or is an enhancement to other US sites. While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are big globally, national social media sites such as Mixi in Japan and Renren or Qzone in China should not be overlooked. Expert social media firms and/or a language agency with global marketing expertise can help you configure your campaign.
- Personalize for each market. The value of social media is personal engagement and local connections. An effective social media agency will research local keywords and tie into daily news feeds and local trends. And knowing cultural references will make it more interesting and interactive for users.
Social media can be very labor intensive because writers need to post original content, forward relevant content from other sources, and respond quickly to questions and comments. A good agency can run social media campaigns from the US that local users in Seoul think is someone in the next block responding to them.
International online expansion: Where to go for help?
All the services and options listed can be completely outsourced to an international marketing and social media agency. This allows a less expensive testing and roll out of markets and opportunities. Full-time staff can be hired over time as the needs are further defined or you can stay with an agency to handle your efforts.
Qualified language service agencies can update the translations daily or less frequently, depending on your budget and target audience. These social media translations:
- enhance multiple-language website localization by giving visitors a further way to interact; and
- provide education and helpful information for visitors, making them more informed and more likely to purchase.
Pay per Click (PPC) campaigns, set up by full-service online agencies on Google, can also run in foreign languages to test products, test pricing, generate leads, stimulate demand right before a trade show, or spur sales prior to traveling abroad. Social media marketing helps enhance other online marketing efforts but can take longer to build. PPC campaigns give a fast response but are more expensive.
Short videos on YouTube give more exposure to companies’ products and services and can tell a story much better than other media. When initially produced, they can be adapted for foreign audiences with voiceovers or subtitles. Using all graphics and a voiceover may be a better option than using the CEO speaking directly to the camera. And the overall budget can be reduced if you specify at the outset that your videos will be adapted to international markets.
Although social media is mostly free, the real value is the content, connection and knowledge of where and how to target your desired communities. A high school student writing a term paper is not the same writing quality as that of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
- Companies might have simple content needs, or need a journalist to tell their story, or engage a smart advertising copywriter to come up with promotions on Facebook.
- And in other countries, it is easy to make offensive cultural gaffes. That is another value of using a culturally-sensitive language localization firm; having a junior staffer or intern handle social media could damage your brand long-term if not done right.
To be effective, social media requires many skill sets including experts who:
- know website search engine optimization (SEO);
- have writing skills to blog and post; and
- specialize in language skills and cultural nuances as with a global-oriented translation service.
- can link these channels to your main web site. Yet good social media and online marketing agencies can perform monthly campaign management for far less than the cost of a full-time employee.
Social media marketing is the most cost effective way to generate web traffic and find new sales leads today –whether you are in Omaha or Shanghai. Without local middlemen, now you can reach your overseas target audience directly through translated blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube posts and content. Using social media for international branding and marketing opens up new international distribution channels without the high cost of foreign travel. And through a professional translation service with telephonic interpreting, your communications can quickly be rendered in 80+ languages to expand your global outreach.