Using social media in another country is about far more than simply using translation services to convert posts to another language. A successful social media engagement campaign needs a unique strategy for each country, along with localized content that is appropriate to the cultural considerations of the country in question.

With social media usage growing rapidly, and customers increasingly engaging with brands before they buy, as well as after, having an effective social media strategy and presence is now a key part of a company’s ability to succeed. Here we share some hints and tips on how to start using social media in another country, to give you the knowledge and confidence to get it right.

The spread of social media

Social media sites have experienced phenomenal growth in recent years and continue to do so. While the number of internet users increased by 7% year-on-year, according to the Global Social Media Research Summary 2018 from Smart Insights, the number of social media users grew by 13%. That means that social media sites aren’t just picking up the same proportion of internet users as global penetration increases – they are increasing their market share rapidly.

The way that people use social media is changing too. Mobile use now accounts for 52% of web traffic, having increased by 4% year-on-year. Desktop usage is down 3% over the same period, to 43% of device share of web traffic.

Why should companies use social media sites in other countries?

Increasingly, social media sites are being used as companies’ main customer service platform. They provide businesses with the ability to push news out to their customers in real time and to engage in discussion about that news. Social media sites are also great way for companies to engage with unhappy customers and to deescalate any issues before they turn into complaints. Add in the ability to market new products, run competitions and promotions, educate consumers and generally build the company brand, and it’s clear to see the extensive advantages available to those who use social media sites in other countries.

Research by Sprout Social has found that the way companies use social media can have a significant impact on whether or not they prompt consumers to make a purchase. The top three brand actions that prompt consumers to purchase were found to be: being responsive (48%), offering promotions (46%) and providing educational content (42%).

For brands that sell goods and services across international borders, there is much to be gained from using social media in another country.

How to start using social media in another country

For companies looking to start using social media in another country, the process starts with research. While there are a core few social media sites that dominate the market, their usage differs significantly from country to country. A company looking to engage with social media users in China, for example, would need to use WeChat, while in the US or UK it would need to use Facebook. Meanwhile, tackling the Russian market would include using VKontakte. Knowing which sites to use is the first step in the process.

Understanding market share is also important. Facebook is used pretty much everywhere nowadays, but the same can’t be said for Snapchat or Instagram. In Italy and Spain, Facebook rules supreme, followed by Instagram – Twitter and Snapchat barely get a look in when reviewed by share of time spent. In the UK, France and Canada, however, it is Snapchat that comes second to Facebook, with Instagram trailing in third position. In the US, it’s Instagram in second place, though Snapchat comes a close third. Understanding local usage will help companies to shape their strategy and know which sites to focus the most time and attention on.

Next, it’s time to focus on content. Localization and translation services are key here. Content shared on social media needs to be relevant to each country’s audience. That means that building a strategy in one country, then just translating the posts into other languages won’t work. Certainly, some posts will be the same – or at least the themes behind them – but relevant, local content will need to be developed for each country’s audience in order to maximize engagement.

The stakes are high when it comes to relevant content. Sprout Social reports that 51% of users would unfollow a brand on social media if it posted irritating posts. The wrong social media strategy can therefore halve a brand’s followers incredibly rapidly – as we know, things move fast when it comes to social media sites!

Thankfully, translation companies can be a great source of help when it comes to localizing content. Many provide specific localization services that have been shaped for just this kind of task. They can offer advice and guidance on everything from religious considerations to the appropriate use of imagery. Thus, by taking a partnership approach, businesses can work out how much of their original language content is reusable and how much needs to be prepared from scratch. They can also glean valuable insights into what makes their prospective audience tick, which can have a significant impact on the success of the entire venture.

Social media overseas – getting it right

In summary, creating a successful social media campaign overseas is all about researching and understanding the local environment and audience, then shaping content to appeal directly to that local audience. Of course, it’s also important to use a trustworthy translation service in order to ensure that the social media content is grammatically correct.

Companies that adhere to these key points should be well on their way to international social media success.

About The Author: Louise Taylor has been writing for the Tomedes translation company blog since 2013. She is passionate about languages and the written word and about using them to bring the world closer together.