Today, more than ever, consumers all over the world expect to be highly connected with the brands they value most. That means social media managers have to be much more well versed in a range of languages, dialects, time differences, and cultures.
As your brand charts new waters in developing its international social media strategy, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
It’s 5 O’Clock … Somewhere
You may be settled in at the office, enjoying your afternoon snack, but that doesn’t mean your audience is, too. British customers, for instance, might just be putting their kids to bed while Australian customers are changing out of their pajamas. It’s important to know your audience, their social behaviors, and where they’re located in the world.
Because social is inherently global, community managers must be mindful when publishing and scheduling posts. Don’t create a “good morning!” message for your entire audience if it will be afternoon for half of them. If you want to post time-specific content, geo-target those messages.
Regarding time zones, be cognizant of daylight saving time changes (some areas switch their clocks; others don’t). Check sites such as World Time Buddy to ensure your scheduled content is lined up to go out at the time you intend.
You Guys? You All? Y’all?
Proofread your tweets for regional dialects, idioms, and slang. You can set up different profiles and handles for various languages or countries. But even within a specific country, keep dialect in mind.
Frito-Lay, for example, is based in Texas — but you would never know that from its tweets. As a global brand, the company eschews local colloquialisms such as “y’all” for a more universal flavor.
Consider also companies addressing audiences in Spain vs. Chile. While both countries are chiefly Spanish speaking, again dialect matters. If your brand is based in Spain and caters more to a European audience, you risk alienating people in South America.
To avoid losing brand advocates across borders, audit your audience by country, state/province, city, and language.
Rain or Shine (or Snow)
People love to talk about the weather. On social media, that presents a challenge. For a small mom-and-pop shop, it’s probably not a huge concern. For global brands, however, community managers must be mindful of different climates and seasonalities, e.g., July is summer in America but winter in Brazil.
Publishing features can help. Say it’s raining in London. You can reach out to customers there (and only there) with Sprout Social’s geo-targeting feature, which allows you to segment your audience by country for Twitter and by country, state/province, city, and language for Facebook. If your brand maintains multiple profiles for different locations, there’s also an option within the Sprout Queue that allows you to customize scheduled messages according to a specific profile.
Honing in on Holidays
Coordinating your editorial calendar with holidays is second nature to most social media managers. When dealing with international audiences, however, there’s another layer of complexity.
For example, Boxing Day promotions that would be relevant to a British and Canadian audience will fall flat in the US. Audiences tend to get annoyed with content that isn’t relevant to them or brands that don’t cater to them and may choose to unfollow accordingly.
To ensure you don’t lose fans and followers, use reporting tools with demographic and location information. Focus your social posts on holidays that are universal across those regions.
Think Before You Tweet
Be diligent when choosing what messages to share with what community members. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have an abundance of demographic and geographic information available about your community – where they live, where they work, gender, age, and the like – so let that inform your content. Audiences evolve over time, too, so enlist the help of a reliable social analytics platform to keep all this data in one convenient place.
When in doubt, it’s best to keep your content as geographically neutral as possible, especially when addressing global audiences. Luckily, your community members share at least one interest – your brand – so use your company story as a common thread. The more relevant your content is to a wider audience, the more followers you’re going to attract and retain. Keeping your diverse community members connected with one another will also help increase your brand awareness over time — not to mention all over the world.
Katie McIntyre: Katie is a Marketing Associate at Sprout Social and a proud Texan-turned-Chicagoan. When she isn't talking to journalists, you can find her wandering around Whole Foods or two-stepping at one of the various country bars around the city.