The boom in social media use is changing worldwide communications – and shows no signs of slowing down. The phenomenon that isFacebook is closing in on one billion users, and Google+ and Twitter both have over 100 million users each and are growing.
From a business point of view, social media offers excellent opportunities for communication with customers all over the world.If barriers, such as cultural and linguistic, can be broken down, lucrative opportunities in foreign markets are there for the taking. Here are five tips to approach different cultures via social media.
1. Choose your target audience wisely
Market research is essential to finding out what countries offer the best opportunities for your business. If you’re already marketing in another country, then establishing a strong social media presence there is an obvious next step.
There’s obviously no point in wasting time and resources scattering a social media presence around the globe, on various platforms, in the hope of securing business opportunities. Having social media presences in foreign countriesthat have not been previously researched for suitability can potentially stimulate business there, but it is probably worth identifying and focusing on certain countries and taking it from there.
2. Choosing the right platform
Choosing the right social media platform is a vitalstage that comes right after you have identified your target audience. This is because your target audience in a foreign country might use a different social network to the one that you are used to, and this will affect how you reach and interact with them when promoting your business.
The biggest platforms in countries where English is the main language are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But, this is not the same all over the world. QZone is still the most popular inChina, the world’s most populous nation, where Facebook and Twitter are still banned. in Vietnam, Zing is the most popular social network. It’s not only in Asia that Facebook fails to dominate. Even in Europe there are countries thatcurrently have not been steamrolled. Drauglem, for example, remains number one in Latvia, whileHyves remains very popular in Holland.
3. Keep your language simple
Use clear, concise language while social networking. Having understandable tweets or posts, that are not full of colloquialisms or text speech, will minimize alienating customers, actual and potential. And remember to get the language or dialect right! If you’re a US company targeting the UK, take care to get differences in language right. Things like spelling ‘airplane’, instead of the British spelling ‘aeroplane’, will annoy users and potentially cause them to switch off.
4. Translating your message
When communicating with people from a foreign culture, it is better to do so in their language. Free online translation sites, suchas Google Translate orBabblefish, offer a quick and easy way of understanding what potential customers are saying in other languages. But they’re best avoided for translating your own text.
Automatic tools tend to make mistakes and not recognize context, and could change the meaning of your posts. This can make you look unprofessional, or even damage your business. The Malaysian Ministry of Defence discovered this the hard way when they relied on Google Translate for a new English website, resulting in numerous (often hilarious) mistakes.
It’s worth hiring native-speaking translators to avoid the chance of errors and make sure your message isn’t lost in translation.
5. Maintain a strong presence
After you have researched and chosen your target markets and platforms, donot forget to be active and make the most out of your social media presence. It’s meant to be “social” so start networking with customers and others who share your interests. No one wants to look at a stale, rarely updated Twitter account. It might take time to see results, but with a little work, you’ll soon be chatting, tweeting and socializing with people around the world.
About the author:
Christian Arno is the founder of professional translation servicesprovider Lingo24, experts in the foreign language internet. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 170 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 and World Bank. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.