Businesses are constantly looking at new ways to outsmart their competition and build an unrivalled brand for their products and services. The international client has become an important consideration in a bid to win new customers but how can an organisation create a global brand presence using the same successful tools? Localisation might just the tool businesses need to add to their toolbox.

The number of our clients that have embraced multi-lingual social media campaigns has grown exponentially in the past 12 months. This has led us to believe that more businesses are realising the importance of their foreign audience, as well as this marketing tool.

Websites, such as Facebook and Twitter play an important role in today’s connected world. More and more customers want to be engaged with the brand they love and spread the word. It is those clients, in particular, that have an excellent opportunity to become influencers and brand ambassadors. That is why it is important for a company to speak to those users in a language they understand.

  • Increased brand engagement
    To paraphrase the famous saying:

  Customers will talk about you. It’s up to you to be a part of the conversation.

  • Social media is an excellent tool for companies to build brand awareness and recognition. Those are free resources that companies can tap into in order to build brand recognition and a base of loyal customers. Loyal customers are repeat purchasers who are more than happy to advertise a product for free, thus increasing a brand’s exposure. The following Digital in 2017 Global Overview is an excellent research, put together by We Are Social Singapore, that shows the state of Social Media in 20117 on a Global level.

  • Cost effectiveness
    Advertising in online communities is a relatively free of charge method in comparison to others, such as content marketing and paid advertising. It also comes with the unique benefit of allowing companies to keep in touch with their customers in real time. Those benefits become even more important when scaled up to a global market. In that situation websites like Facebook have the added advantage of being much more cost effective to translate and localise than a full scale marketing campaign.


  • Communication across borders
    As we have already mentioned in our guide on Content Localisation, 72.4% of internet users prefer to be spoken to in their own native language when buying a product. This becomes even truer when it comes to building a long term relationship. Social media is a cost effective and efficient way to continuously communicate with customers from each market a company is targeting. The numbers make it an opportunity worth exploring. Facebook has 241 million users that are based in India, 139 million based in Brazil and 126 million based in Indonesia. YouTube is used by 98% of all internet users in Saudi Arabia, 94% of users in Turkey, 90% in Mexico and the list goes on.

It stands to reason that YouTube and Twitter, among others, can significantly improve your exposure to customers abroad, but this requires just as much planning as it does in the local language.

Step by step Guide to Localising your Social Media

1. Plan and Research

The first step is to get to know the local market. How could the company’s product be positioned on the local market in relation to the competitors? Can the brand identity and marketing message easily be transferred into a new culture? How familiar are customers with the brand and product already? Those are just a few questions that a company needs to ask in order to build a solid understanding of what their approach should be.

social media planning

A thorough research is the basis of a solid strategy

2. Know your Audience

Social Media is all about relationship building and speaking to people. The best way to do this is by getting to know the audience. Buyer personas are an excellent way to synthetize the knowledge of each target market into a comprehensible profile that will make them seem like a real person. This will then make it easier to decide on the most appropriate language to use, content to be posted and which channels are frequented by the target audience.

3. Which channels to use

Twitter and YouTube might be among the biggest social channels worldwide, but depending on the market a company decides to target there might be more popular local websites. Vkontakte, a popular Russian to keep in touch with friends, has more than 440 million users. Weibo and Renren are a must for anyone looking to enter the Chinese market. Mixi has more than 14 million active users in Japan and Yonja is Turkey’s response to Tinder.

By knowing their product and audience, as well as localising their message a company can decide on which channels will be beneficial to the company goals.

social media apps

The phone of a foreign customer might have a completely different set of apps installed

4. Set SMART goals

Goals are essential for measuring success. The better defined they are the better they can point towards a company’s success. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. By setting up the goals in such a way a company ensures that it will have the proper measures to decide the effectiveness of its communication strategy.
Two things to consider in this step are the budget and time scale. Depending on how well know a brand is in its target country it might take time and effort to build up and engage an audience. Additionally channels such as YouTube might prove to be more expensive than others due to the cost of content production.

5. Localise your message

There is one last step for a company to consider before starting to build presence in online communities – language. The new target market will most likely not speak the same language as the one the company is already established in. As mentioned already 72.4% of online users prefer buying products in their own language. When it comes to real life conversation the situation becomes even more complicated. Social norms, cultural references and common bases of understanding can quickly fall out. By combining the skills of a marketing specialist and a localisation expert a company can be sure that the message that reaches the audience is the one that the company intends to send.

6. Ready, Go

Once everything has been set a company is ready to begin building their brand abroad. Social Media is an excellent place to gather data and test new marketing approaches. That is why the appropriate data needs to be gathered in order to measure success against the set goals and KPIs. Special attention needs to be paid to those posts that engage the most and those that do not. This will show the right direction and where the effort needs to be concentrated.

Word360 are a global localisation company with a network of over 5,000 linguists spanning 250 languages and spoken dialects. Speak to our business team on how we can help you improve your international marketing strategy.