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The world of social media seems so connected and instantaneous that it is sometimes easy to forget that its presence spans the entire globe. As a result, social media marketing campaigns are conducted on global information networks and cross borders. This is partly where their value lies, as a company can reach out to a worldwide audience in a relatively simple way. Yet it is also where their biggest challenges stem from.
Traditional advertising campaigns are carefully managed to appeal to the cultural difference of various markets. Adverts and slogans that work well in one country may be wholly inappropriate for another, whether it is adjacent or on the other side of the world. But social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Xing and LinkedIn make little attempt to distinguish between markets. In fact, part of their fundamental proposition is to bring people together who may be separated by great distances, and who may reside in different countries.
While 40% of Twitter users live in theUS, for example, the remainder live in a whole spectrum of different countries, where values, traditions and cultural sensitivity all differ. As a result, international social media strategies must address these issues if they are to be truly effective.
One central issue in a successful international social media strategy is to consider which social networks are popular in your target markets. Though consolidation is happening, there are many options to choose from. In Brazil and India, for instance, Orkut is popular. InChina, Facebook is currently banned.
Once the choice of network is made, it is a question of building a brand that will appeal to local markets through an international forum. The challenge, therefore, is one of complexity, but with expert advice it is possible to navigate the many options and optimise a social media campaign that has appeal across borders.
The reward is that getting the strategy right enables a company to reach across the globe with simple tools, such as a 140-character tweet. Therein lies great power to build a brand, link to business partners abroad, or bring together the many creative minds in a multi-national business.