5 things you need to know about taking your social media efforts international

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Social media has not only changed society, but it has transformed the way brands communicate with their consumers. With over 300 leading social media platforms all across the globe, and plenty more springing up, companies have the chance to engage with their customers on a variety of levels and in endless markets. Going global with your social media is a big step, but it can reap big rewards too. So, here are a few tips on how to effectively approach your social media strategy from an international perspective and maximize your engagement globally.

1. Know your audience
Before you even think about creating a social media platform for a targeted market, you should start by researching who your new audience is; learn who you’re talking to, what they’re interested in, how they like to interact with information and what motivates them. As with all marketing channels, it’s vital to really understand your target audience so as to be able to build a relationship with them and learn how best to communicate your information.

2. Choose your language
When looking at social media internationally, there is of course the obvious question of language. Social media is all about talking to someone on their level, quickly, and more importantly, in their own language. If you can afford to, investing in a translator or social media expert who speaks the target language can be worth every dime. They know the intricacies of the target language and how to maximize these interactions with customers.

Look to create one social media account for each language, rather than relying on one to communicate in a variety of languages and to numerous markets. Trying to convey various messages, in different languages, can be extremely confusing for users. One account for a selection of markets can work if they share a common language, for example the UK, Australia and America. But if resources allow, then separate accounts will allow you to target your markets better and make sure the information is relevant to each one.

3. Think about tone
Unlike choosing your language, deciding on your tone is a little more subjective; and getting it just right is tricky. By nature, social media tends to be the more fun, relaxed sister of the marketing channels. They’re a place where brands can engage on a more informal level, using slang and colloquialisms. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon any strategy. A mother tongue translator can help you work out what tone is right for your audience and whether your content will work in that market.

4. Pick relevant platforms
Although Facebook has 1.19-billion users across the globe, it’s not the only platform out there. When approaching social media internationally, it’s important to keep a wide perspective and remember that some markets prefer other platforms. Orkut was, until fairly recently, the number one choice in Brazil, while Hyves is extremely popular in the Netherlands. Facebook is banned in China, so to converse on a more social level with Chinese consumers, you should look at Renren and Qzone.

Even in markets where Facebook is popular, this form of social media may not be the best platform to maximize your interaction with consumers – or should, at least, be complimented by other varieties. Instagram and Pinterest have a role, in particular with an image-focused brand, and can create more subtle interaction. Twitter allows consumers to interact quickly with a brand and Vine, the social media platform’s video app, makes companies think about their message in a more creative, visually focused form.

5. Be active and relevant
Social media is very much about being social. Unlike other marketing channels, at the heart of social media platforms is a two-way conversation that involves a brand putting out information that their consumers can engage with – and then that brand talking back. Companies that aren’t active, both on the positive and negative stuff, can run the risk of seeming disengaged, uninterested in their users and lose their relevancy. Keep in mind too that when a company is headquartered in another country to the target market users can sometimes end up feeling distant from the brand. This makes localization of social media even more important to try and overcome the geographical challenges.

As well as being active with customers, it’s important to consider the technology they’re using and how quickly it changes, in particular in the social media sector. Look on both a local and international level to be able to adapt as quickly as possible and embrace the tools that your consumers are using. A successful company is part of their consumer’s everyday routine, and learning how to take your product to your consumer, rather than making your customer come to you, is vital.

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