Photo: Flickr Karin
For e-business, the common questions related to global expansion tend to revolve around two main issues: potential and cost.For the former, companies research markets, buying habits and competition. For the latter, too many are lured by seemingly inexpensive tactics that fail to pay off and ultimately cost more than they should.
Unfortunately, the proliferation of social media marketing contributes to this issue. Particularly for organisations that have successfully moved closer to domestic customers via Twitter and Facebook, the temptation to build international outreach efforts on these platforms is great.
However, organisations need to move carefully to translate those social media activities into international expansion. On the path to globalization, businesses should be wary of these common pitfalls:
1. Let social media efforts carry the international marketing campaign.
So many domestic marketing campaigns have experienced high-profile success on social media. Why shouldn’t that translate easily to global markets? Because despite its accessibility and hype, social media alone can’t support an otherwise faulty international marketing plan. It’s important that businesses view social media as one part of an integrated approach created with sound international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategies at its centre.
Translation and localisation experts should guide ISEM. This starts with careful research into relevant keywords that reflect the subtleties of regional dialects and colloquial speech, as well as the habits of preferred search engines. Google dominates most global search activity, but in some sizable international markets, including China and Russia, consumers are more likely to use other engines that employ different search algorithms than Google.
2. Isolate social media efforts from the rest of the international marketing strategy.
ISEM efforts should serve as the foundation for everything a company does to market itself abroad. Companies should use their keywords to tie together the messaging in targeted pay-per-click ads, relevant landing pages, multilingual rich media, adapted banner ads, out-of-home advertising, experiential marketing with people on the ground, philanthropic community involvement, and events like launch parties and networking functions, as well as social media outreach.
3. Adopt social media marketing abroad no matter what.
Social media is not for everyone. That’s not a popular sentiment, but it is true, and it is important to consider this fact before sinking resources into managing blogs or Facebook and Twitter accounts. In some retail segments, investments in social media pay off in heightened conversion rates and bottom line profit. In other markets, these activities fall flat. analyse your domestic audiences and consider their responses to various platforms before you replicate these efforts around the world.
For those that determine social media should be one of the elements in branching out internationally, there are a couple of needs to consider. First, social media requires human management. Complete reliance on machine translation is rarely a good idea, but it can be a real problem in social media, which requires ongoing engagement. If social media is part of the marketing mix, hire a local translation expert who is knowledgeable about the company’s international messaging, as well as about regional cultural norms and search engine parameters.
4. Put resources into social media at the beginning of a campaign, then taper off those efforts.
If e-businesses want real ROI from social media, they must prepare for long-term commitments and local expert staffing. Before organisations jump into international social media, they must recognise that doing so is not a one-time action item. Social media connections must be maintained if they are to deliver value. Blogs are effective only when they get frequent infusions of fresh, relevant content. Companies that fail to oversee Facebook and Twitter accounts can draw the wrath of followers. All of these activities require daily oversight.
Globalization Success Hinges on ISEM—Not Social Media
As businesses branch out to potentially lucrative new markets around the world, they must focus on attracting new visitors to regional websites, engaging prospects and customers, encouraging brand loyalty and boosting conversions. Reaching these goals requires thorough ISEM research, strategy and deployment. Social media can certainly be a part of the mix, but rarely can it carry a campaign. For companies focused on the common concerns of the potential and cost of globalization, ISEM is essential.
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