When designing a global social media marketing strategy, there are many things to take into consideration. Should you start a new profile for every country and build your presence up from scratch? Or would it be easier to manage a global account?

This guide is divided into two parts:

  • Planning: Think about your brand and the strategy you want to take
  • Execution: Now that you’ve got your planning done, how do you execute it?

Global social media marketing: 9 tips for planning

Managing a global brand doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. If you plan ahead of time, set the right documentation in place and create ways to align your team, marketing in multiple countries will give you large reach, while keeping your strategy close to home.

Use your current social media marketing strategy as a blueprint for other countries, languages and cultures. If you plan on having a strong presence or separate account for different countries, each one deserves its own approach. From analyzing your word choice to building the right team, let’s get into how you can set your team up for success.

1. Set your social media goals

Having a social media strategy without goals is like driving without a destination. You’ve got momentum, but you won’t know whether you’re going in the right direction.

Setting social media goals is a crucial piece of your strategy. Goals help you understand when your social strategy is successful, and when you need a direction shift. And they help you prove ROI, which is one of the biggest challenges for social media teams.

Bar chart depicting how social media teams' biggest challenges have evolved from 2019 through 2022

Here are a few common global social media strategy goals, and some social media metrics to inform them:

  • Increasing brand awareness: Followers, impressions, reach
  • Increasing community engagement: Followers, comments, engagement rate, shares, clicks
  • Growing your audience: Followers, shares, engagement rate, share of voice
  • Supporting web traffic: Conversions, clicks, website traffic, click-through rate

How do you decide which ones are right for you? Look at your broader business goals and think about what you want to achieve with each of your social channels. Then, set SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound—to track your progress.

You can have different goals for each platform, and even for each market your global social media strategy serves. For example, if you’re well-established in the US market, your social media goals might be centered around engagement and conversions. But if you’re expanding into a new market, brand awareness is a stronger focus.

2. Establish a global social media marketing team

When building up your social media team, especially a global one, there are a number of elements to consider to create a holistic team. Who will handle what? What cultures do they specialize in? Are they dialed into the regions that they post from? All of these are important questions to consider.

When expanding your team, lean on native speakers and local experts, especially if your strategy relies heavily on connecting to your audience. And if you have multiple markets and experts who can weigh in on your posts, give team members visibility into your work. Using a tool can streamline this process. Sprout Social Groups, for example, can group different markets and stakeholders together to make content visibility and approvals smoother.

The more experts you have, the more insights you’ll get. Create a regular sync where your global team can come together and provide insight into their top priorities. Consider the method that works best for your team. Will you have a regularly occurring meeting where team members can discuss what they’re working on? Syncs before cross-market and cross-brand promotions or campaigns? Ask your team for input on how they’d like to communicate, and decide what cadence is best to stay aligned.

Team alignment is crucial—not only on strategy, but execution. You’ll likely have products and guidelines that apply globally. Use an internal communications tool like Bambu or Slack to keep staff on track and to curate content from around the world.

In addition to aligning communications, create a hub of media and pre-written customer care messages—like the asset library Sprout provides—for the whole team to access. This further streamlines communication and helps keep consistent imagery and language, no matter who’s posting.

A screenshot of the asset library feature in Sprout Social, where you can provide visual and written assets that are ready-to-use for your team

3. Structure your team for optimal success

There are many ways to build a social media team into your company. Depending on the structure of your company, you’ll need to determine if this team will operate your social accounts independently, or with corporate oversight. You’ll also need to determine whether the team leads of each country or product have input on the global strategy.

A graphic showing the dandelion method of structuring a global social media management team.

In Sprout and Bitly’s free ebook on structuring a social business team for enterprise companies, the dandelion model is featured as a potential global organization. With this type of structure, the separate teams can function more independently with minimal oversight. However, this structure can also create too much independence, which can lead to brand dilution and confusing communication.

A screenshot of Sprout's approval workflows feature, which makes it easier for teams to collaborate on content in one hub.

To work around this, find an enterprise social media tool that blends with your internal communication and team structure. Sprout’s enterprise model allows you to create groups with multiple social media profiles, permissions set at the user level and unlimited reporting so you always know how your brand is doing.

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4. Choose your social profiles

Social media platforms are not “one size fits all.” The right platforms for you will be the platforms your audience uses most—that can change based on market location and audience demographics.

Do some research for each market your global brand wants to target—what social platforms do they use? Which platforms might they not have access to?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Platform popularity and availability: Facebook is the most popular platform worldwide in terms of monthly active users. But in China, where Meta is banned, Weibo or WeChat are popular platforms to use instead. And while LinkedIn is the world’s largest networking site, to reach the German job-seekers market, Xing is the more popular networking site.
  • Target demographic: While there’s always some crossover, different age groups are more likely to use certain platforms over others. If your audience is younger, TikTok and Instagram may be your focus areas. If they skew older, Facebook will be key.
  • Your team resources: Certain platforms, like TikTok, require specific skills in video editing, visual storytelling and more. You may want to consider growing your social media department if you need to expand your team’s specialties.
  • Your goals: Your goals might open opportunities for you to use different kinds of apps. For example, if you want to expand your customer service capabilities, use WhatsApp to help consumers around the world.
  • Rising social media platforms: What platforms are on the rise in different markets? When you look at social media in Europe, for example, you can see that 41% of European customers plan on using WhatsApp.

Once you’ve selected your channels, get creative with how you expand your reach. And not all of this effort needs to come from your marketing team. Tapping into employee advocacy is an excellent way to expand your reach into new markets. In fact, 68% of marketers report that their organization has an employee advocacy program for social media, with increasing brand awareness as the top business outcome.

Employee networks are huge, with about 10x more connections than a company has followers. And with a 2x higher click-through rate when employees share versus when a company shares, it’s a great tool for building trust and connection.

4. Discover your brand voice and messaging

Before you expand into any new countries or target them, you need to run a brand check on your assets, phrases and brand persona.

Visual assets and overall brand

This means looking at your company’s name, logo and even colors to see if there are any cultural barriers. For example, Axe cologne is called “Lynx” in the UK and a few other areas due to trademark issues. And something as simple as a color in one country may not be as appealing in another.

For your brand values and taglines, translate them into the native language and consult a local expert to see if any of them need changing. Sometimes, just a small tweak in wording will make all the difference.

Take note of your vocabulary

You may need to modify your English to accommodate non-native speakers. Are there any current terms you use that could confuse people? Do you include pop culture references that not everyone has access to?

The easiest adjustments are to shorten your sentences and check your reading levels. Long and compound sentences are difficult for everyone. You want your messages to be as clear as possible.

And check your post copy, right down to the emojis you use. Different emojis can mean very different things from culture to culture. A friendly hand wave emoji in the US can mean breaking up a friendship or relationship in China. And a thumbs up that seems innocuous in Western chats can be extremely offensive in the Middle East. Research areas before you post to make sure you don’t accidentally send the wrong message.

You can also tap into references, phrases and words that will resonate with the local audience. Notice how on the Malaysia-specific Nando’s Twitter account, they leaned into terminology and tagged location-specific news outlets.

Listen to your audience

Take time early to research cultural events, taboos and marketing approaches. This can help guide everything from the wording and emojis you use, to the holidays you jump on. Using Social Listening is the best strategy to start with. This will allow you to research the culture and conversations in a market to help refine the way you approach new audiences.

Observe what others in the country or language are doing and how people respond. This can help you jump on local trends when appropriate, loop lingo into your posts and better understand the local conversation topics.

How to execute your global social media strategy

With all the planning and strategizing done, it’s time to execute your strategy. But how? You’ve already done the heavy lifting by completing the planning phase.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you’re executing to ensure you’re optimizing as you go.

5. Choose and implement tactics to reach your goals

Choosing the right social media platforms and setting your strategy can only get you so far. You also need to be strategic and creative with your content to reach your audiences—no matter where in the world they are.

Tap into creative tactics that will enhance your content and ultimately boost your reach to hit your goals. Here are a few popular tactics to try:

Partner with creators and influencers

Working with local creators can help you connect with your audience through a friendly face they recognize, like and trust. In fact, generating engagement and reaching new audiences are the top goals marketers have when working with creators.

Chart shows marketers' primary goals when working with creators

Creators’ bread and butter is making content meant to entertain, educate and connect—hire them to do what they do best, especially if your audience is younger. Younger generations value collaborations with creators or celebrities more than older generations.

Do research to uncover influencers and creators in each of your markets. And use social listening in a tool like Sprout to uncover your brand advocates who already talk about you–working with them can build authentic connections, while rewarding their loyalty.

A screenshot of Sprout's listening tool and the overview of your most engaged fans, and their follower count.

Use video, specifically short-form

Short-form video has skyrocketed in popularity. So much so that consumers find this format 2.5x more engaging than long form video, according to Sprout Social’s Index™.

Using the type of content that consumers want to engage with can expand your reach and boost your engagement. Tap into this format, especially on platforms that make it their priority, like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.

Tap into trends

“TikTok made me buy it,” the catchy “it’s corn” viral trend, the Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac trend…chances are, at least one of these social media trends sparked a memory for you.

Trends create conversations on social media and in the real world. They don’t necessarily live within one platform. For example, TikTok trends are notorious for gaining traction on TikTok, then inspiring content on other short-form video platforms. Leaving space in your strategy and content calendar for these trends is an easy way to join the conversation and show audiences you’re paying attention.

Pro tip: Research local laws. With the GDPR policy taking effect in Europe in 2018, many brands have taken a second look at their data collection and privacy notices. Depending on which country you’re operating in, laws may prohibit you from posting specific types of content.

6. Schedule in local time zones & message locally

Your most active audience might be in the US but if you’re building up an audience in Germany, you’ll need to target them at the right times. If you’re operating with a single account, add in local times and messaging to your post schedule.

Catalonia Hotels & Resorts have hotels all over the world, but they Tweet from one main account. You’ll find Tweets published at different times of the day, and featuring different languages depending on the audience they’re trying to reach. Because travelers come from all over the world, incorporating some English into their accounts makes sense.

Do yourself a favor and schedule your content ahead of time to ensure you’re reaching certain markets at the right time for them, without having to set an alarm for yourself to post at odd hours.

7. Keep up with news & holidays

Any local breaking news has the chance to become global. If your team is tracking it as it breaks, you have more time to get ahead of it or even pause the posting schedule.

Holidays are also a major consideration for global brands. For example, Father’s Day is not the same day globally. Wishing a happy Father’s Day from your global account might not make sense if most of your audience is not celebrating it on the same day. A local sporting event might force a reschedule in a local account’s posts while a large event like the World Cup would impact multiple accounts.

Note how Nando’s used their US-focused Twitter account to promote their food on the US Labor Day holiday. Labor Day is commonly celebrated by grilling outside with family and friends, and Nando’s leaned into this theme and language.

Plan ahead by noting any market-specific holidays or dates to prioritize in your content calendar.

8. Some emotions are still global

Emojis may not always be used the same way across borders but some emotions remain the same. Stories that talk about overcoming challenges or elicit an emotional response ring strong in marketing. The only difference might lie in the execution.

Beloved Danish toy company LEGO kicked off a global celebration of their 90th birthday with a worldwide “Day of Play.” Play is universal—LEGO used this video to celebrate their beginnings and roots, while also emphasizing the now-worldwide reach and importance of their globally-used product.

Think about how you can use storytelling to create content that resonates across borders and cultures.

9. Check in on analytics and strategy

Finally, looking at your analytics is one of the most important steps. You need to look at how you’re performing within each social account and your global performance across profiles. Collectively, is your brand getting a clear message across?

A screenshot of Sprout's reporting and analytics tools, featuring the group report and a graph showing audience growth across a brand's social media channels.

This is where Sprout’s Group Report shines. Combine all of the accounts into one group to pull the analytics report. Or, divide the groups up by region and see how your European accounts are performing against your North American ones.

These high-level reports will advise your strategy. Maybe Twitter wasn’t as strong as you expected it would be in Japan. Noting how active the audience is with numbers to back them up will let you make informed and strategic optimizations.

Going worldwide in 3…2…1

With these tips in mind, it’s your turn to execute your global social media marketing strategy and meet your audiences where they are.

Global brand management on social media can be tricky. But with the right team structure, plan and communication tool, you can set yourself up for success. To be a truly global brand, you’ll need to keep refining your strategy and expanding by entering emerging markets with social media. And with your strategy set, you’ll be ready to do just that.