Guide to International Social Media Localization
June 16, 2014
Around the world social media in all forms is becoming one of the most important topics for international marketers. Social media is influencing how businesses conduct all facets of their marketing, sales, and customer support.
With companies going global the need for leveraging
international social media is increasing. Yet many digital
marketing strategists still consider English as the main language
for their social media activities. The fact is social media access
and activity are rising significantly in almost every country
market. Local social media users have their own behaviors, trends,
culture, language and even social media network preferences. For
instance in China QQ is the most popular social network and not
Facebook. In Russia, the top two most used social media platforms
are Odnoklassniki and V Kontakete.
In order to reach your current and potential customers, listeners, fans and friends from around the world, here are a few tips when conducting an international social media campaign.
Identify the local market
Identifying local markets is the key to building a successful social media strategy. There are several initial questions you need answered in order to identify the local market properly.
- What social media platforms do the locals use? Which
platform is the most effective for your
If Twitter and Facebook are the most active networks in your target market, but you are B2B manufacturing company, then maybe you will need to focus on video marketing or select LinkedIn groups instead.
- What are the cultural traditions of the local
The culture of your target market is extremely important. Businesses need to localize communications and make sure they are culturally appropriate, timely and persuasive. Understanding your markets holiday calendar, seasonal celebrations and religious traditions, as well as sports and culinary preferences are all part of local culture you need to develop content around.
- What is the language commonly used on the local social
It is important to decide what is the most effective language to be used is for communications on the targeted local social media. Some marketers would like to have fully localized content for social media while some marketers will choose to have bilingual content. For markets like the UAE which is full of expats, a bilingual content strategy is the best tactic to follow.
- What are common social media behaviors for local
users? What are the trending topics in the local
You should always try to figure out where your offer will meet the most demand. You should constantly research the behavior of social media users in the local market, their trending topics and what the local market segments are talking about.
Build a multilingual content strategy
A lot is being said today about not just starting a dialog and making posts to social media, but companies need to have a solid overall content strategy. Language is part of this strategy. The need for multilingual content is more critical than ever. Some marketers tend to focus only on their native content strategy and forget to develop a multilingual content strategy for the local markets. Many major brands now believe in language specific content marketing and are devoting time, talent and tactics to their presence in foreign social networks in order to be successful in these markets.
There are several important tips for building a successful multilingual content strategy:
- Translate and localize your content (by a professional translation agency if necessary)
- Modify your content to be more useful and informative for social sharing
- Focus on the local trends and updates in the target market or locales
- Optimize your social media profiles' content and messages for locales and target language
For more information, check our blog post: How to Create a Content Strategy for Multilingual Content.
Define your social media channels
Your website is one of the most powerful online channels available to your organization to communicate effectively with your audience. However, your customers are increasingly using their mobile phones and tablets to communicate through social media platforms. You ultimately need to establish your presence on the social media channels where your global customers can find you, receive updates and offers and communicate with your brand. A key element of your international social media strategy should be to define your channels and reach out to your customers and wherever they are.
Local language has a big impact on the use of social networks. In Germany, Twitter is not very popular due to the nature of the lengthy German language, as Twitter is limited to 140 characters. As well, some local networks are purely native. This means that you need to speak the native language to even exist on those networks. If you want to expand your business in Russia or China, these big markets and their popular native language social networks and users may not even speak English, so providing content in local language is a must.
And let's not forget about the political and governmental environment in local markets. The rules and laws and ability to censor content can impact what you can post in some countries' social networks. For instance, according to Google, Saudi Arabia is the world's top YouTube nation. YouTube is the most popular network for Saudi users due to the internet blocking of websites that contains improper content. I would always advise online marketers who are targeting Saudi market to focus on video marketing and YouTube ads.
Managing the international social media accounts and campaigns
Optimizing your global social media accounts and campaign management requires expertise. I would recommend using the services of a professional localization consultant and a native speaking team to provide effective training to your team to manage your social media accounts, or have them handle it for you. You will need to address several factors while managing international campaigns in addition to what I mentioned above:
- Consumer behavior is not the same for each country or locale
- Tracking results by country and language is critical to allow you to optimize campaigns
- Managing communications (posts and replies) in different time zones requires the right staff
- Reading and interrupting various reports. Some local social media channels provide different insights and metrics than your typical global social media channels
- Some popular social media platforms don't work in all languages
- Optimized Blog Development and Design: Providing web design and development services for your blog
- Multimedia translation: Providing multimedia translation for your local markets which includes YouTube video translation, social games localization and graphic translation.
Further Resources on Social Media Localization and Digital Marketing
Let GPI's team of in-country social media practitioners and localization specialists help your company apply best practices in social media communication around the world. For more information, please check our previous blog post about Social Media Localization.
You may gain further insights into international digital marketing, content strategy and global SEO and related topics by reviewing previous blogs written by GPI:
- Digital Media and Translation in the Middle East
- How to Create a Content Strategy for Multilingual Content
- Speaking the Languages of Online Marketing in UAE
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Natalie Veis Williams - Global Digital Marketing Manager
Natalie was born and raised in the state of Montana, USA where she graduated from The University of Montana with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Her international experience includes two summer programs, one at The European Business School in Germany and the other at The University of Brescia in Italy. She studied a variety of global business subjects including international business, trade, culture and language. Key projects for her undergrad studies included meeting with executives from large corporations such as Lufthansa, Opel, and The European Central Bank as well as working with the design team on the marketing plan for the 2015 World Fair in Milan, Italy. She has a range of global event management experience including organization of the Annual Mansfield Conference on the Middle East and the China Town Hall meeting series. Her hobbies include yoga, cooking, reading, being outdoors and traveling.