The Social Media world is your oyster – 6 tips to engage with international customers

How many of you have got a Twitter follower from Japan? How about a Facebook friend in Russia? Or even a passionate Google+ or LinkedIn post sharer from Saudi Arabia? Does this mean your social media is now international? Does it mean that you’ve now officially made it on a global scale?

Probably not – connecting with fans, followers, customers and industry influencers from around the world on a few social media networks isn’t the same as engaging with them, and you’re certainly not going to become part of their online world.

Translating a webpage using an online translation tool and then tweeting about it in the same language is not an effective international social media strategy, and I would certainly advise you against it. Yes, you might think it’s worth a try – scoping out potential, just so you can put a case together for professional translation services going forward – however don’t fall at the first hurdle and ruin your international reputation.

The real challenge is that; social media needs to be localised, in the same way your website needs to be localised for a target market. It may sound tricky, but it is not as confusing as you might think. Here are six tips (perhaps not the sixth one – but read on) I would suggest you follow, if you are looking to take your social media marketing international:

1. Place – one of the four P’s

It may be back-to-basics marketing, but the first step you need to take is understand where your audience hangout. Before launching a full scale international campaign, ensure you are targeting the right social media networks. Here are the most popular networks worldwide as of March 2015 – ranked by number of active accounts.

You need to consider your business and where your most appropriate online presence would be.

Graph showing social networks ranked by number of users

(Source: Statista)

2. Understand what languages users speak online

From once dominating the web, English is now just one of a plethora of languages spoken online. According to Internet World Stats, the relative share of cyberspace reserved by the English language has shrunk to around 30%. French, German, Spanish and Chinese have all pushed into the top 10 languages online. Out of a roughly 6,000 languages in use today, this top 10 make up 82% of total content on the internet.

1277.4% – this is the percentage growth of the Chinese language online between 2000 and 2010.

3. Formal or informal, that is the question

Just as you wouldn’t write social media updates in formal language used in reports or presentation in your existing profiles, the same goes for engaging with people on social media around the world. Social media is regarded as a place for using colloquialisms, slang, idioms and common vernacular – hence the term “social” – and this is the same world over.

Using a native speaker with experience of communicating with your target market and knowledge of your industry will help you translate and coordinate your message, so that you know what you are saying to a teenager in Japan is hitting the right tone, compared with an update for a businessman in U.A.E.

4. What’s Trending?

No matter what country you’re in, if you can engage followers, you have a better chance of successfully turning your brand into a living, breathing entity. In order to do this, it’s important to engage with local social media trends.

Trendsmap and Twitter’s local trend search feature allows you to visualise topics trending globally, nationally, and in your city.

Constantly researching behaviour of social media users in your target market, their trending topics and what they are talking about should allow you to keep up with this ever-changing aspect of social media.

5. Best time to be social

You may be settled in at the office right now; enjoying your afternoon snack whilst reading this fantastic blog post, but that doesn’t mean your target audience is doing the same. Customers Australia for instance, might be tucking their children into bed, whilst Californian parents are serving their kids breakfast. As a result, it’s vital to know your audience, their social behaviours, and where they are located in the world.

The person in charge of your organisation’s international social media strategy should therefore be mindful when publishing and scheduling posts. Don’t create a “good morning!” message for your entire audience if it will be night for half of them. If you want to post time-specific content, geo-target those messages and schedule them in using popular social media management tools.

Also, be aware of daylight saving time changes as some countries like United Kingdom switch their timezone, whilst others don’t.

6. Purchase a Babel-fish

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a fictitious, yellow fish is put into Arthur Dent’s ear so that he can instantly understand anything said to him, in any form of language.

Okay, so we’re never going to find you one of those and I am pretty sure nothing like that even exists (yet), however wouldn’t it be great if we could all just purchase a Babel-fish making this now five step process easier and less complicated?

If you’re still unsure…

Take a look at what major multinational brands are doing. A single brand, delivered by a varying stream of languages is likely to be a major priority for global companies. Big, international brands have already taken action and have international social media strategies in place. Sony, for example, supports twenty international Twitter feeds, whilst Microsoft, Cisco and PwC all offer Twitter feeds in ten or more languages.

Ask us today about our translation and interpreting services and see how we can help you reach customers across the world, by speaking to them in their native language.

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