Social media can be a powerful tool in reaching customers, improving visibility, and promoting brand loyalty.
Social Media marketing is a fantastic and low-cost tool for any company who understands how to use it to their benefit. The last 10 years have been game changing for the way that we advertise online, and social media is a trend that is here to stay.
When using social media, there is the potential to reach an enormous base of clients with relatively little cost. But there’s a lot to consider when working with social media. The results are often intangible, but it can be the boost a business needs when attempting international export.
Why Social Media is useful for International E-commerce
Using social media to reach your audiences is (mostly) free, and easy to use provided you understand the social media culture in your target audience. These platforms offer you the opportunity to communicate directly with your clients, which was previously impossible on a large or international scale. Before, a sizable budget had to be planned for TV and radio advertising in the target country, which may or may not have reached the audience needed.
More and more major companies are dedicating sizable budgets dedicated to social media advertising and content creation. With the amount of reachable potential customers online, it’s hard to find arguments against using social media. The added value of social media marketing can be seen in the trends of how businesses are using social media to reach their customers.
Social media advertising budgets are expected to climb to 11 billion by 2017, with Social Media Marketing essential for small businesses and startup companies. Social media is an unstoppable force in reaching potential customers, so it’s easy to see why more and more companies are devoting sizable percentages of their digital marketing budgets exclusively to Social Media.
What’s more, is that advertising on social networks is relatively cheap. Facebook advertising, for example, can implement budget caps by day or by campaign, which will function on a pay-per-click system (much like Google Adwords) so more people, who are more accurately targeted, can be reached for less.
This goes even more for companies looking to export; social media can be the first and best contact you have with your customers. With this in mind, it’s important to know your social media target market, and develop your strategy on a local basis.
Develop a Localized Social Media Strategy
But how does a business based in the US use social media to target customers overseas? The first go-to social media networks are Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, but customers in several countries use local social networks in addition to the multinational networks. For example, French sites are more likely to use Daily Motion in lieu of Youtube (though there is a substantial following on the latter). Due to government restrictions, Chinese users are more likely to use Weibo in lieu of Twitter, which is noteworthy considering China has the fastest growing E-commerce market in the world. For users in other countries, connecting with them on a local level will better resonate and create more brand trust.
The top consumer concern when it comes to following a brand on social media is that the brand publishes new content. The second, which goes hand-in-hand with the first, is that the content is relevant to the brand. For consumers in any market, a company not only has to keep them engaged, but in a way that is appropriate for the brand (and for the consumer). The third most important concern that a consumer has with brands on social media is that they engage with their customers. They want to know that they won’t be ignored if they contact a brand on social media. With 78% of consumers saying that what companies publish online influences their purchases, these concerns are to be taken seriously.
It’s also important to have marketing in the target country’s native language. Even if your customers might speak English as a second language, it might be insulting if you don’t attempt to communicate with them in their native language. This is even more important for other countries who speak English as well: it’s important to use the types of language and vocabulary that they use in the target country. It’s a good idea to have localized accounts based on what language you’re using or market you’re targeting.
Knowing how social media functions in the daily lives of target users (which is likely to be very different from how it works in the US) is the best way to market effectively. You need to be able to adapt your social media strategy based on the target market. How do your potential customers use social media and how can you use that to your advantage?
In order to stay competitive today, social media marketing is not just a good idea: it’s imperative. With a good understanding of what role it plays for your customers, defining your strategy on a localized level, and dedicating the time necessary to maintaining fresh and relevant content, it can be the best, most cost-effective tool to increase your visibility in foreign markets.