What Social Media Can and Can’t Do for a Global Marketing Campaign


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What Social Media Can and Can’t Do for a Global Marketing Campaign

By Liz Elting

eM+C – July 21, 2011

Online retailers have embraced social media for domestic marketing campaigns, often succeeding in reaching their strategic goals through the use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. E-tailers have found that social media can help them engage consumers, broadcast promotions and boost profits, all with a relatively low investment.

Organizations need to move carefully to translate those social media activities into international expansion, however. Engaging on multiple platforms in numerous languages is complicated and making the effort doesn’t always pay off. In order to draw value from international social media marketing, retailers need to incorporate their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging activities into a strategic, integrated campaign. In doing so, they should consider five crucial tips:

1. International search engine marketing (ISEM) is the best foundation for global expansion. Before embarking on a multinational social media program, make sure your keywords have been adequately researched and vetted for individual markets. Consider regional dialects, casual speech patterns and local search engine algorithms as you develop your strategy.

2. You'll need local experts to staff social media platforms. Unlike website content which can be localized from afar, social media requires local employees who can engage authentically and respond to comments from fans and followers. Find a regional translation expert to staff these platforms, and make sure that person is well-versed in cultural norms, local customs and your brand's international messaging expectations.

3. Social media is a long-term, ongoing activity. Before jumping into international social media, you must recognize that doing so isn't a one-time action item. Social media connections must be maintained if they're to deliver value. Blogs are effective only when they get frequent infusions of fresh, relevant content. Companies that fail to oversee Facebook and Twitter accounts can draw the wrath of followers. All of these activities require daily oversight.

4. Social media isn't a cure. If your underlying ISEM strategy is broken, your social media presence will be ineffective as well. Social media can't save a poor marketing campaign, nor can it carry otherwise limited activities. Local efforts should include sound ISEM practices, targeted pay-per-click ads, relevant landing pages, multilingual rich media, adapted banner ads, out-of-home advertising, experiential marketing with people on the ground, philanthropic community involvement, and events like launch parties and networking functions.

5. Know your market and study its use of social media. In some retail segments, investments in social media pay off in heightened conversion rates and bottom-line profit. In other markets these activities fall flat. Analyze your domestic audience and consider its response to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs before you replicate those efforts around the world.

E-tailers are understandably enthusiastic about social media marketing. With an internet-savvy consumer base, businesses are primed to embrace digital paths toward closer customer connections. Before forging ahead with these activities abroad, however, you must carefully examine the required investments and potential returns, as well as focus a critical eye on your overall marketing plans. With a foundation of ISEM, expert translation and comprehensive marketing support, social media can make a global marketplace feel smaller — and more profitable.

Liz Elting is co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, a privately held provider of language and business services. Liz can be reached at info@translations.com.

 
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