Social Media

Social Media Marketing in Foreign Countries and Languages

Social media marketing is now a key strategy for any business’s global marketing communication strategy – online marketers understand the benefits of social and know how to deliver a good return on investment in their social marketing endeavours.

However, many English-speaking marketers are missing out on the huge potential of foreign-language social media marketing. There are a number reasons why this may be the case, the most obvious being a lack of knowledge about which social networks to target abroad and how to devise a social media strategy for foreign-language markets.

According to data published by Internet World Stats in June 2010, the top five countries with the highest proportion of internet users are China with 21.4%, the USA with 12.2%, Japan with 5.0%, India with 4.1% and Brazil with 3.9%.  This means that three of the top five internet-using nations are emerging (mostly non-English speaking) markets – the BIC out of the BRIC countries.

These countries are prime opportunities for export and for marketing online, particularly by using social media, but how can you go about reaching these overseas audiences? Read on for some starter tips below – we’ll begin by looking at the most popular social networks in China, Japan, India and Brazil.

China

Renren.com and Qzone.com dominate the Chinese social networking scene. Renren, a clone of Facebook, claims over 120 million users and is popular with students, although the company hopes to capture a wider demographic in the future. Qzone claims to have over 380 million users, although it’s likely many of these are dormant accounts opened via the company’s QQ network, China’s largest instant messenger service. China’s third largest network is Kaixin001.com, which is popular amongst white collar workers. Kaixin001 has developed popular networking games like ‘Slave Manor’ and ‘Happy Farm’.

Japan

The Japanese market is dominated by Mixi.jp and Twitter.jp. Mixi is by far the largest with over 80% market share, which is around 30 million users. Twitter’s official Japanese site was launched in 2008 and has around 5 million active users. Twitter.jp has an interesting revenue model whereby users can charge their followers to view their tweets, either on a monthly basis or per single tweet.

In Japan paying for content, particularly on the mobile web, is something users are willing to do. From a marketer’s point of view it’s interesting to note that writing in Japanese and Chinese characters enables Twitter users to squeeze a lot more content into single tweets than writing in English.

India

In India, Facebook has just edged ahead of Orkut in terms of monthly unique visitors, with Facebook now at 20.87 million, compared to Orkut’s 19.87 (based on July 2010 Comscore data).

These two networks are already well-known to internet marketers in the English-speaking world, which may help to make India an attractive market to target. BharatStudent is another popular network in India with 4.32 million monthly uniques. As its name suggests, this network is aimed at the younger demographic.

Brazil

In Brazil, Orkut is the most popular network. In fact, over 51% of Orkut’s total traffic comes from Brazil. That’s around 20 million monthly visits. Sonico.com is another popular network, closely targeted to Latin American users, which has around 8 million members in Brazil. MySpace has been the third largest network in Brazil for some years, although it now looks as though Facebook is about to take the number three position.

To get started in foreign-language social media marketing, you need to decide which countries to target. One way to approach this would be to find out which networks in which countries most closely match the demographic profile you want to target. You could look at data from the likes of Nielsen and Comscore to gain this kind of insight.

Once you have identified some potential networks to target, you should probably enlist the services of a local social media expert within that country. This will help you to understand social media etiquette and online behaviours, which is particularly important in some markets, like China, where censorship and state control could have an impact on your marketing activities. For example, in China, there is a list of prohibited words, the use of which will trigger an automatic ban on your posts.

Most likely, you will also need the translation services of native speakers to copy write and translate your campaigns, ensuring your message is understood and trusted by local users. These modest investments in local expertise will very likely bring an attractive return when you consider the reach of foreign-language social networks.

 Social Media Marketing in Foreign Countries and Languages

Christian Arno

CEO at Lingo24
About The Author: Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a global translation company. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 200 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.
 Social Media Marketing in Foreign Countries and Languages

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9 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing in Foreign Countries and Languages

  1. Good points. China’s social network site is the largest by far and do have a worldwide followers unlike for the other countries. It is interesting to see the campaign took off on a foreign social media site.

  2. Yes I agree that hiring local social media expert within that particular country thiss is the best option to understand the etiquette and online behaviours of social media.

  3. Very interesting article. One note on the top 5 is that 4 of them have divergent cultures from that of the United States which is for the most part patterned after that of England. The original founders of the U.S. overthrew the dominance of England as a colonizing power, but carried forward its culture, but with some minor adaptations.

    Learning the cultures and languages of the top 5 is critical for succeeding in emerging markets. Translation services will prove to be big business in the near future.

  4. Thanks Christian Arno….. great analyze about local social media marketing… social media is very important for local business…..

  5. Now (i.e. in 2012) Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin have emerged clear winners in the social media circle. Orkut has been clearly overtaken by Facebook which has over 900 million users. Twitter is slowly catching up with 500 million users. The other website that has made itself in the news is Pinterest.

    Apart from these global websites, we should do local marketing in social media resources as suggested by you. This really helps!