The Truth About Global Marketing and Social Media

The Truth About Global Marketing and Social Media

By Liz Elting

Business 2 Community - July 30, 2012

Goldman Sachs predicts that the global take for e-commerce sales will reach nearly $1trillion by the end of 2013. That estimate is based on an annual trend of 19 percent growth in worldwide e-commerce sales. Businesses that were once focused on domestic markets exclusively are now seeing global markets as prime growth opportunities. Unfortunately, too many of those e-retailers are banking on Twitter and Facebook alone to market themselves internationally. To succeed, these companies will have to reconsider their strategies.

Tweet this: social media marketing efforts need localization.

Companies that operate in isolated geographic regions have found that social media platforms can help them move closer to customers and grow sales. It’s easy to see why these businesses would build their international expansion efforts on the backs of these applications. These companies believe that:

  1. Social media marketing is inexpensive.
  2. Social media reaches every market.
  3. Social media messages are easy to translate into multiple languages.

Is social media marketing inexpensive? It seems that it would not be costly to open a Twitter account, throw together a Facebook page, and task an employee with posting content once in awhile. Here’s the problem: social media marketing only pays dividends when it is part of an integrated approach with an international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategy at its core. To get ISEM right, e-businesses need to draw upon the expertise and experience of translation and localization experts who understand the subtleties of language, culture, and regional preferences.

Does social media reach every market? Not always. Some segments respond well to social media marketing and some don’t. Domestic buying habits can indicate what impact social media will have in other countries, but there are other factors to consider as well.

Is it easy to translate social media messages? If you plan to manage this task with machine translation, rethink that plan. Consider these questions:

  1. Do you have people on the ground in target countries who are equipped to manage social media accounts, translate content professionally, and regularly interact with followers?
  2. Do you have a local translation expert who understands your messaging and the resident culture?
  3. Is your team schooled in local search engine preferences and algorithms? In much of the world, ISEM focuses on Google. However, in growing markets like China and Russia, other search engines dominate, and they use different parameters than their U.S. counterparts.

Increasingly, U.S.-based companies are drawing upon experienced professionals to implement global marketing strategies and achieve success beyond what they had anticipated. Yet, that success is based on a multi-faceted strategy. Social media is one component of such a strategy, but e-businesses also need targeted pay-per-click ads, relevant landing pages, multilingual rich media, adapted banner ads, and more to achieve success in diverse languages and cultures. To increase their return on investment, e-retailers need to view social media as one component of an overall strategy that employs localization expertise.