In order to successfully reach people around the world, companies need to be savvy to new cultural nuances. Online activity has developed its own unique set of rules for etiquette and polite behavior that most brands have become familiar with, but now they must also incorporate new international flavor.
Social media is officially a global phenomenon. Statistics from Facebook’s second quarter earnings call revealed that most of the network’s user growth is happening in new markets. The gain in new daily users in the U.S. and Canada was just 7 percent over the past year, and European growth was 9 percent. In Asia, though, daily user numbers grew 26 percent over the same quarter in 2013. Finally, outside of all four of those regions, growth clocked in at 25 percent on year.
This international growth is a boon for businesses since it provides a massive potential audience. Here are some tips for how brands can best navigate the growing global audience.
Do Your Research
If you’re an international business, you should have a large suite of analytics to help you understand the demographics of your audience. Keep an eye out for where your new followers live, or where you’ve got a large fan base.
Once you’ve pinpointed the nations that supply the majority of your audience, spend some time investigating the unspoken rules of their social behavior. For instance, if you’re popular in Japan, then read the feeds of that country’s social media leaders. Check in on what the national celebrities post about. What type of images are top Japanese businesses sharing? What’s the usual corporate culture like? What are some common slang phrases?
Developing this knowledge is useful for any brand, but is especially important for any companies that are playing with humor in their Facebook strategies. Most jokes and puns don’t translate well, and something that American readers find funny could be offensive to a more conservative online culture. The more that your company understands the rules governing interpersonal interactions for a particular nation’s audience, the better you’ll be able to tailor your posts that will fit seamlessly into those people’s feeds.
Use Targeting Tools
The next step is to get those perfect posts in front of the correct audiences.
If you’re drafting an update within Facebook, clicking on the target icon before you publish, you can select ‘Add Targeting’ and include filters that will make some audiences more likely to see your update in their news feeds. You can target by location or language, which will help boost your signal among the audiences you want to reach.
Sprout Social customers can take advantage of these same targeting capabilities without leaving the management tool. Any time you’re writing a new message in Sprout Social for a Facebook Page, click on the network’s logo at the bottom of the composition window. This will reveal a window displaying geo-targeting features. Select the countries or languages you want as your audience, then queue up or schedule the message as usual. Especially when you want to create a few slightly different takes on the same post for your different groups of readers, Sprout Social makes it easy to assign and focus your message to the perfect audience.
Add Pages Gradually
Another great Facebook resource that can support your brand’s international growth is the Global Pages Solution. This allows your company to have separate Pages that will appear for different regions. It can allow you to present material in multiple languages or to share certain posts only in certain countries.
This is a great tool once your company has a big enough audience in a particular nation. Keep in mind that adding another Page to your Facebook strategy will require extra resources: more posts, more management, and more responses. Don’t dive into this resource without properly preparing your social and marketing teams for the additional work load.
When you’re ready for this degree of specialization, though, creating separate Pages can give extra focus to your international efforts. It’s also a way to make sure that you can retain your brand’s ethos and personality without worrying about causing a culture clash. You can take the time to test out responses to your usual tone gradually in those narrower markets, and zero in on the attitude that best represents your company to any country’s social population.