Social media as a method for targeting key audiences is standard practice among Internet marketers nowadays, but as social media itself continues to expand beyond domestic borders, so too does the reach of your company. Addressing a global audience of various cultures, languages, and preferences is no simple task and its mishandling could hurt your reputation overseas.
The sheer scale of international brand messaging carries certain inherent obstacles. A primary obstacle is the language barrier While English is certainly more of a universal language in the business world, this does not always apply to the consumer. If all of your content is in English, it will not only be lost on those who don’t understand, but it will send the implied message that their market is an afterthought, never mind the lack of specific content for their region.
Round up your analytics and monitoring tools to pay closer attention to how your brand is being mentioned. Google Trends can give you a good idea of how people search for related products and merchandise based on geographical location. Once you’ve identified what is important to each region, you can tailor your content to their interests.
Once you have a system in place, you’ll want to consider how you will expand your communication to handle the increase local demand. Best practice says the spoke-hub distribution is most effective. Build a central point of contact, your English blog for example, then direct all channels to link back to the main hub. This is the largest source of your content and sets the standard of content by which all subsequent branches behave.
Create a second tier whose primary objective is servicing the target communities. This branch will have a clear understanding of their individual foreign markets, what appeals to them, and what will not work. They will be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the translated text and other cross cultural issues that could arise.
Your third tier will consist of those on the ground, so to speak. Here are the people manning your social media channels, responding, listening, and engaging your foreign audience in their own language and timezone.
The content you put out will be viewed by a global audience. Avoid content that will be irrelevant or too region specific. Operating content from a central hub in this way reduces the need for multiple social media accounts, which not only dilutes the strength of your online presence but creates more moving parts with the potential for miscommunication, misinformation, and increased resources in terms of oversight.
Expansion creates the potential for more problems as you bring on new staff and find your footing in untested waters. Take the time to create a thorough and clear map of proper behavior for your employees and departments to follow across the entire spectrum of Customer interaction, including when and how to handle escalation, crisis management, guidelines for acceptable content, and inter- and intradepartmental communication. The devil is in the details, and when it comes to a global campaign, he’s in joints that link your infrastructure together.
New markets will require refinement so monitor the effectiveness of your strategies to ensure that you are delivering the highest caliber of content for each specific market. Adjust content or protocol as necessary to hedge against your losses.
Internet marketing provides a means of global communication unprecedented at any other time in history, but it also carries the added risk of large scale public failure. Keep a tight rein on your system from the ground up to avoid too much freedom in how content is distributed and with what language responses are issued.