Which social networks are best for international audiences?

Business globalization requires that small-business owners seek various ways to communicate with consumers living in different countries. As you begin to develop your internationalization strategy, it's important that you take a deeper look at your social networks and how each site may help your global endeavors.

Your brand should already be represented on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, but when targeting audiences outside of the U.S., there are many other factors to consider when developing social media profiles. Regardless of which network your company chooses to join, content should be localized to the specific region, meaning features and language should be adapted for each page to best reach consumers in targeted countries.

But which sites are best for your business? Billions of people across the world have already joined the most noteworthy networks, but depending on which segment of the population you're trying to reach, some may be more effective than others.

"82.4 percent of Facebook users live outside the U.S."

1. Facebook: Largest online international audience
There's no contesting just how far-reaching Facebook is. With more than 1.39 billion active monthly users, Facebook remains comfortably planted in its throne as King of the Social Networks. While a large portion of Americans have Facebook profiles, the site has a pretty significant global pull as well, noting that 82.4 percent of its daily users live outside the U.S. and Canada. The company currently has offices in more than 35 international cities, including Paris, Tokyo and Auckland, ensuring that any visitors from other countries have access to the same features as users in the U.S.

This site is ideal for business owners looking to target global consumers, as it permits people to create pages in many different languages to best reach audiences outside the U.S. Maintaining an international Facebook page is equally as important as building one, as your consumers will expect customized content and information pertinent to their regions. Localization services can help you initially develop these pages, providing accurate translation and expert recommendations for moving forward with postings.

2. Twitter: Most effective for mobile marketing
Twitter may not have the sheer volume of users that Facebook does, but the site is wildly popular among those with mobile devices. In fact, 80 percent of the site's daily visitors come from mobile usage, highlighting a very large opportunity for small-business owners looking to target people via mobile marketing. 

Similar to Facebook, businesses can create separate pages geared toward international consumers in different regions. Twitter noted that 77 percent of its users live outside of the U.S., highlighting an important need for sites that are geared toward this expanding virtual audience. This site is an invaluable tool when it comes to customer support, in particular. Establishing your business as a knowledgeable resource for international followers can expand your buyer base in these regions as more people become aware that your company can address concerns in a timely and accurate manner.

The majority of Twitter's monthly users access the site on mobile devices.The majority of Twitter's monthly users access the site on mobile devices.

3. Instagram: A picture is worth a thousand words
Unlike other social networks, Instagram allows users to connect primarily through visuals. Users can post both images and videos to the site, but there's a small space for text underneath each post. The site noted that as of December 2014, it had more than 300 million monthly active users, many of which resided in different countries across the globe.

Developing individual Instagram pages for each international audience can provide them with content tailored to buying behaviors geared toward specific regions. For example, after using professional translation services to get accurate copy, your business can adapt pictures with colors or images that perform best within different regions. Study up on which colors inspire global buyers to purchase and which kinds of photographs – whether stock images or pictures of products – get the most attention on your site.

4. Pinterest: A dark horse gaining global steam
Pinterest is another visual-based medium that offers benefits to small-business owners and consumers alike. The site allows users to collect pictures, links and videos from across the Internet on virtual boards tailored to specific interests. According to Bloomberg Business, the company made an impressive push in May 2014 to attract more global users to the site. More than 70 percent of Pinterest's users live outside of the U.S., but the site has sought ways to localize features and content to people living in Asia and Europe.

"Pinterest recently made a push to localize features for users in Europe and Asia."

Small-business owners should not pass up this opportunity to tailor their own international strategies on the site for people living in these regions. They should not only ensure any pins they've created adhere to business language localization, but have a specific audience in mind each time a new pin is posted. Remaining as specific as possible when developing and promoting new content on Pinterest can drastically help companies reach the widest and most relevant audience possible.

5. YouTube: Ideal for international viewers
When it comes to developing content for international audiences, YouTube remains a pioneer in the realm of social media. More than 80 percent of the viewers watching videos posted on the site are outside of the U.S., an impressive figure when you recognize that the site gets 1 billion unique visits each month. Creating and sharing videos for people living in different countries requires a great deal of planning, with small business owners investing in professional translation services to oversee content.

YouTube itself is one of the most globally friendly sites on the Internet. Presently, it's localized in 61 different languages and available in 61 different countries. This means when posting videos to the site, small-business owners must adapt content to suit the audience of their choosing.

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