Approaching social media internationally
Today, we are more connected around the globe than we have ever been before. The huge rise of social media has done wonders for fusing business connections, and it has opened channels of communication between customers and brands all over the world. International communication is an important element in the success story of social media. However, even with our high connectivity via these platforms, all barriers have not vanished. The following four points will help you approach social media internationally.
1. Research your market
It is important to remember that the social media market is still growing and is far away from saturation. Social media is flourishing in emerging economies, such as the CIVETS – Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. For example, according to eMarketer, Indonesia had a social network user growth rate of 51.6 % in 2012.
It is therefore vital to research emerging international markets and find out what countries could be viable to do business in and set up a strong social media presence there.
What is just as important as researching what international markets to connect with, is the platform you choose to do so in.
2. Use local social media platforms
If you are looking to approach international users via social networks, you might be tempted to do so via Facebook. In the second half of 2012, Facebook announced that they had over a billion active monthly users. That is more than three times the amount of people alive in the US today, logging on to the social network every month. You might think that Facebook is the most popular social network in every country around the world. However, even with these massive figures, Facebook is not the biggest platform in every country in the world. For example, Draugiem is the biggest social network in Latvia.
Facebook lags behind in many Asian countries – home to 50% of all the world’s social media users. In fact, it is still officially banned in China (as is Twitter), meaning this vast population gets connected using home-grown alternatives. WeAreSocial digital agency reported that Qzone was the most popular in China in 2012, with 552 million users. The Chinese microblogging sites Tencent Weibo, and Sina Weibo are also hugely popular, with 337 million and 324 million users respectively across Asia.
Cyworld is still the biggest network in South Korea, with 26 million users. Facebook may have recently surpassed Zing in Vietnam, one of the emerging CIVETS markets, with 8.5 million users to Zing’s 8.2, but Zing is still growing steadily.
Choosing the right social media platform is vital. Your target audience in an international market might well use a different social network to the one that you are used to, and this will affect how you reach and interact with them when promoting your business.
3. The importance of going mobile
Mobile phones have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. From only allowing people to make phone calls on the go, the importance of phone calls on a mobile is now a long way down the list for many users.
According to a study mobile search is widely expected to overtake static search by 2015, but in some markets and social media platforms it’s already the most popular format.
For much of the Asian population, their mobile phone is their primary way of accessing the Internet. WeAreSocial reported that last year 35% of people in Vietnam used their mobile phone to access social media, and this trend is growing as more and more people around the world use their phones and tablets to access social media.
As the mobile market grows in numbers, social networks will undoubtedly adapt to suit. It’s important to keep up with the trends in your international market, as they can change quickly.
4. Tailor your message
After you have researched your market, picked the most suitable platform and made sure it easily accessible via a mobile phone, it is important that you do not undo all this good work by sending out pointless messages that do not have anything to do with your target audience. Yes, it is very important to keep your account active, but it is more important to tailor your message to a thoroughly researched target audience. Look at user expectations and habits. Keep in line with your chosen international market’s culture and communicate as clearly as possible.
Author bio: Christian Arno is the founder of translation services provider Lingo24, Inc. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 180 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24