5 Ways To Get Started With International Social Media

Spaces are shrinking, borders are blending, and social media is spreading throughout the world. 

With 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power located outside of the U.S., maintaining an international presence on social media is important. Heavy competition and the ever increasing saturation of global markets are raising the competitive bar online.   Nowadays, it’s not enough for a brand to just be present on social media sites, they also need to be engaged as well. Fortunately for us, the social media revolution has opened new doors for international engagement using social media.

Get Started With International Social Media

Launching a global social campaign is easier said than done. Different time zones and languages are only some of the challenges encountered when stepping onto this new social soil. Unknown cultural norms and local laws can all make it hard to promote international content. Like any marketing campaign, making a brand present internationally on social media requires a premeditated strategy. To help make the process less daunting, we have outlined some international social media tips below:

1.       Pinpoint Your Target Audience:  Figure out who your audience is and where they are located.  Tools such as Google Trends, Facebook Insights, and Social Mention can help point you to what region of the world your brand is already popular in.

Once you figure out where your target audience is, try out paid ads on social sites. Our SEO Director Benj Arriola presented some international link building tips at SMX Toronto including content marketing tips such as  targeting audiences internationally with ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Reddit.

2.       Learn the language:  Once you have figured out where to engage, it’s time to figure out how to engage. What languages are spoken? And how are they spoken? As all English speakers know, English from the U.S. is not the same as English from the U.K. Furthermore, an international brand like McDonalds leaves no room for cross-language discrepancies. Despite sharing the same general language, each small Central American country has their own McDonalds Twitter account, reflecting the language and dialect unique to that area.  Also, don’t forget about slang. Be conscious of words and phrases not to say. Books such as Dirty French and Dirty Chinese will help enlighten you on insights into the local tongue.

3.       Understand the culture: This may be one of the hardest things to grasp going socially abroad. Culture is unique everywhere. What does your audience like and dislike, and more importantly what social behaviors do they engage in? How does your country use social media? Western cultures often use social sites to share useful and interesting content, while Eastern cultures tend to use social for sharing and downloading music and games. This step is crucial to content marketing for international audiences.

4.       Organize your channels: Organization is everything. Best practices advise to pick a “master” social channel that all other channels can refer back to. Often this master channel takes the form of a company blog. Next, pick the social channels that will best reach your audience. Things to consider:

  • Different countries have different social channels. For example, the Facebook of Russia is called V Kantakte and the Twitter of China is known as Tencent Weibo.
  • Different social channels appeal to different targets. Although the Chinese social QZone may be the largest Chinese social channel, it is often for younger adolescent users. A company may have more luck using the network Kaixin to go after an older, more mature Chinese demographic.
  • Keep track of your channels. Starbucks learned this lesson the hard way when they mistakenly sent out a British pride tweet on their Irish Twitter. The Irish were outraged, backlashing against Starbucks and their hashtag, #StarbucksIE. The moral of the story is, check  twice before you click post.
  • Don’t go channel crazy. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many channels. In some cases, it is not necessary to activate new channels. For example, if your company already has a Facebook page in English there is no reason to start one in Spanish. Facebook allows you to target posts to certain countries and users. So keep it simple.
  • Before starting a new account, check to see if you’re already active! Chances are your company is already active on Brazilian social media. Orkut, Brazil’s top social site is owned by Google. As a side note, it is good to know that Google automatically transfers Google + accounts into Orkut accounts.

5.       Have back up plans: Have a set of boundaries for your social users. The farther your social outlets expand, the more important it is to keep everyone in sync.  Proctor & Gamble for example created their own ten page Global Social Media Policy booklet that requires all employees and third party partners to comply with P&G guidelines. Also, have an escalation plan ready for negative engagement. If a negative post comes up late at night, who will deal with it?

Now, go interact, learn, and progress your brand in its new international social space. If you have the budget, invest in memberships to social monitoring sites as well. Sites such as Synthesio and Attentio are excellent social monitoring sites that specialize in international social media. The bottom line is to understand your audience and post things that appeal to them.

Let us know if we can help you on your international social media journey!

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