Certain ways of conducting your social media work more effectively than others, and this includes scheduling, posting, messaging, engaging, participating in new networks, using etiquette, leveraging analytics, you name it.
When planning your social media activities, it’s important to consider all of these aspects not just for your local audiences but also on a global scale. This past year in particular, more and more companies and individuals around the world are getting involved in social media. This makes it more important than ever for companies to focus on a global STRATEGY (strategy being the key word here) for their social media efforts.
Why You Need an International Social Media Strategy
A global strategy simply means being mindful of your foreign connections. Many companies today can work with others across the world, but even if you don’t operate a business that works with international customers and clients just yet, you can benefit for a few different reasons:
- Visibility. It is never a bad thing to gain additional visibility for your business, so making sure that your social posts can be understood by all cultures is beneficial. If someone knows someone, you’ll want them to know who you are. If a company outside the U.S. is looking for a U.S. partner, you want to be considered. If someone in another country is looking to purchase what you have to offer right now, you want to be available to them right now.
- Stay ahead of the competition. If you fall behind, you’re left behind. You want to stay current and make sure that you’re not the only company ignoring potential sales from foreign countries.
- Easy access. This goes well with the last point. You want your social media accounts to be easy to find and easy to understand, and if you can make this happen you’ll be one of the few! If English is your second language and you’re the only company with a plan of action for that consumer, who do you think he/she is going to pick?
Unfortunately, creating a global strategy isn’t always easy. It involves analyzing your website in order to determine just how “global” you need to get, and where you’ll benefit the most.
How to Get Started with an International Social Media Strategy
1. Prioritize and segment your audiences.
The first thing you need to do is determine where your foreign connections lie. Use tools such as SocialBro, Followerwonk, PageLever, Facebook Insights, etc. to gather this data for each individual social media account. Your followers can be different on Twitter than they are on Facebook, so you may need to have a slightly different strategy for each account (which you likely do already). Once you determine which countries are most interested in your accounts, you can segment your audiences accordingly.
However, just because you have a lot of foreign connections or retweets does not mean that this is your target audience. You must evaluate where you want your audience and put that on the top of your priority list.
2. Either create specific country pages or use the customization features of the network.
Next it comes time to setup your social media accounts so that you can show certain messages to certain groups of people. This is done the easiest through Facebook and LinkedIn. However, some companies find that it’s best to create an entire new page if there is a large foreign audience, or to create a new page per target country if the country is strategically important enough or if your audience is large enough in the country. This is really the only way you make sure you’re getting exactly what you want because the segmenting features of social networks themselves don’t give you the option to do everything.
3. Utilize native speakers and guest articles.
If you’re ever planning on writing something in a different language, you should always use a native speaker. While tools such as Google Translate are usually OK for casual personal use, this isn’t as acceptable when it comes to your company’s social media. Social media is constant—update alerts going straight to mobile phones, notifications popping up when you have a new tweet—so people don’t want to be listening to broken English, which would actually do more damage to your brand than any potential benefit you may derive. A great strategy for generating content for international target audiences on a consistent basis is guest posts by native country experts. Start exploring, networking and locating in-country and ex-pat experts, and you'll then have a team of outsourced content builders to help you achieve your international social media goals.
Once again, creating a global strategy does not mean that your other efforts should suffer. You want to continue to focus on your core target audience and do what you can to make sure that you’re giving your current customers the types of information they need. A global strategy is a complement to your current strategy, helping you to incrementally expand your business.