With today’s increasingly globalized economy, U.S. companies are spreading their brands across the world, creating marketing presences in a multitude of international countries. Social media and online marketing are highly effective and relatively inexpensive ways to grab the attention of potential customers abroad. About 80% of Facebook’s 900 million+ users are outside of the U.S. and Canada, and 77% of Twitter’s 465 million+ users are outside of America, demonstrating the major impact social media has overseas.
It’s clear that it’s important to tap into these markets, but it’s easy to unintentionally make your audience abroad feel like second-class citizens. The biggest mistake you can make in international social media marketing is failing to localize a campaign for each country you target. By asking yourself these five questions, you can treat your foreign customers like the VIPs they are and get the best possible results.
1) Which social networks should I be utilizing in each country?
While social networks like Facebook and Twitter are universally popular, potential customers’ online playgrounds may vary from country to country. Do the countries you’re targeting have their own leading social networks like Orkut in Brazil or Tuenti in Spain? Of course, researching the demographics that use these social networks is essential as well.
2) Who does my brand appeal to?
While video games appeal largely to young males in the U.S., who knows, maybe due to cultural differences the most hardcore gamers in Liechtenstein are 85-year-old grandmas. Be sure your demographic research is thorough and specific to each country you’re targeting.
3) Will this translate directly?
Facebook and other sites offer automatic translators that allow non-English speakers to understand posts you make in English. However, as anyone who has used an automatic translator knows, these can produce some ridiculous results. YouTube allows multi-language closed captions, but either edit the often heavily-flawed automatic transcriptions or take the time to create and upload your own caption files. If you’re planning to really go after a foreign audience, hire a professional translator to translate all of your posts. These translators should be locals that understand the full connotations of words and phrases in their languages and dialects.
4) Is this globally funny?
Humor isn’t universal. What makes us cry with laughter in the U.S. might not even produce the tiniest of smiles in Italy. Injecting humor into your campaigns is important, but make sure that jokes translate internationally, and, if they don’t, don’t hesitate to use different material abroad. Having advisers who truly understand regional cultures will help ensure the content appeals to foreign audiences.
5) Is international right for every campaign?
Before choosing to market your brand in a specific country, know if your campaign and product/service has the potential to appeal to that culture. Don’t rely on social media marketing in a country where 1 in 3 families owns a computer. Don’t invest millions into marketing Stanley’s Snow Boots in the Bahamas. Expanding online campaigns abroad is often a fantastic idea, but make sure it’s the right choice for your specific brand.
Has your brand expanded internationally? How have you used social media and other online marketing techniques to capture foreign audiences?