You don’t need to be a world-famous psychic to know that global social media will only become more important as we look ahead to 2014. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion, says a report by eMarketer. But how exactly should you approach it as you target your global customers? Which growing trends should you get on board with to garner the greatest returns?
Let’s peer into the future of global social media, based totally on trend-watching and expertise (NOT on any supersensory Nostradamus-like prognostication abilities). Here are six predictions for global social media in 2014.
You’ll also find tips on how you can use international social media marketing to foster better customer engagement next year—and well beyond.
1. More personalized social campaigns
The ye olde practice of blasting one message over multiple channels is no longer, shall we say, de rigueur or in style. In the coming months, we’ll see an even greater need to share multiple messages across multiple channels, including highly targeted global social media campaigns.
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For the best chances of engagement, craft your campaigns according to cultural preferences. Research each of your target markets to identify their preferred content types and social media networks. For example, researching South Korean audiences would reveal multi-channel use that centers on video and blogging—knowledge that you can use to strengthen your campaign’s effectiveness for that region.
Personalized marketing approaches will not only be more common but more expected. The more targeted you can get, the better.
2. More active listening and conversations on social
We’ve only just begun to see the positive impact of using global social media for customer service and as a feedback sound stage. I foretell of more consumers turning to Twitter, Facebook and their other favorites to communicate with brands—voicing complaints, asking questions and everything in between. Consequently, we’ll start seeing more global companies devoting more resources to monitoring and participating on social sites.
For social-based customer service, consider using machine translation as part of a social media “triage” system—in which the engine translates customer issues that require a fast response. Of course, real-time messages demand responses that are as real time as possible. So it may make sense to outsource this task to an in-country linguist team that’s familiar with your brand.
3. More fully integrated social and digital strategies
As global social media continues its steady march into the territory of “must pursue,” I predict that more companies will integrate global social media into their digital marketing localization strategy.
There’s little point in spending hours creating the perfect piece of marketing content if its exposure is severely limited. That’s why I see global social media becoming a natural extension of the entire global content lifecycle with how companies share content. More departments within firms will also begin to incorporate social media into their consciousness—going beyond marketing to include sales, public relations, customer service and others.
I recommend centralizing the way your entire company manages global social media. It’s important to enforce consistency in how your messages and brand attributes come across in various markets and on multiple social channels.
4. More locale-specific social incentives
More companies will get involved with social media-only incentives to drive higher engagement. We’re already seeing a bit of this in the hotel industry for example, with travelers checking in at a property on Foursquare to redeem freebies.
It’s a powerful way to encourage customer interaction and foster brand loyalty, but it does require careful targeting. With your diligently performed target market research in hand, come up with giveaways, contests and discounts that align to each audience’s interests and cultural expectations. Match these up to the social networks they use in each region. Any images and text should be localized for the audience too—which Sajan can help with.
5. More cross-platform promotion
Like a frothy brew with many ingredients, our media mix today is greatly varied and intermingled. Mobile apps and websites, television commercials featuring Twitter hashtags, video-embedded banner ads . . . customers around the globe get constantly blasted with brand messages in various forms.
More global companies will respond in kind. Global social media will be key in driving cross-platform campaigns. If you partake, keep in mind that you’ll also need to localize your shared digital marketing content for each target market.
6. More emphasis on multilingual SEO
Since social media is a key factor in increasing search rankings, I see multilingual SEO becoming a mantra for better brand and content findability.
Remember that people in different countries use distinct words and phrases when searching for things online. To address this, Sajan turns to in-country marketing linguists to research region-specific keywords that pertain to your industry. Also keep in mind that Google doesn’t dominate in every country; you’ll want to align your efforts to the search engines in each locale.
Hopefully these predictions and pointers have proven useful as you plan next year’s global social media efforts.
Sajan doesn’t have a mystical-looking crystal ball to gaze into—but we do have you to share what’s in store for your own company. What are you planning for your global social media next year? Impart your foreknowledge to us by commenting below or chirping a tweet at us.
Want even more insights into managing your global social media program? Take a peek at this best practice brief highlighting five tips on getting started.