Social media is a major influencer in customers’ lives, and therefore it’s an important part of every marketer’s strategy. So perhaps you’re already familiar with the best social media practices, creating engaging content, and getting results.
However, you might not achieve the same performance when you transfer your current social media strategy to an international scale. And international social media deserves the extra time and effort you’ll devote to it, given the significant results it can produce in a short period of time.
According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index, company alignment with personal values is 74% more important to consumers than it was in 2021.
So I’m glad to see you made your way to this guide which will equip you with the correct tools, best practices, and a ready-to-implement strategy. If you’re ready to get social, let’s learn how you can achieve international success with social media!
How to start planning your international social media strategy
Behind every successful digital marketing strategy, there is research. When you include new markets in the mix, it becomes even more substantial. No matter how universal the online landscape may feel, it’s quite similar to the real world when it comes to cultural and behavioral nuances.
And missing this aspect can mean the difference between a failed social media plan and a high-performing one. To get started, it’s crucial to consider the following steps:
Find the right platforms
When it comes to international marketing, not all social media platforms are created equal. Due to many marketers assuming the same platforms are popular in every country, companies tend to miss the most important channels — leaving a gap to be leveraged by brands that took their time to do research.
For example, in Germany, the second most popular social network is Badoo, which makes it more influential than Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Or in Asia, where local platforms like WeChat (China), Qzone (China), LINE (Japan) or Kuaishou (China) are way more prominent than western ones, your effort in your current channels can only get you so far.
Therefore, the first step to planning your social media marketing should be to research the most popular platforms by monthly active users and understand how they are used in the daily lives of your target audience.
Then decide which ones make the most sense for your business based on the user demographic, platform purpose, and capabilities. Considering the time and resources you’re willing to invest, list down the platforms that are strategically important to your brand.
Re-imagine marketing personas for social media
Social media personas should be identified differently than your marketing personas as the same internet user can have quite distinct behavior and intentions when using different channels.
To effectively target the right audience, you should detail your personas based on the following questions:
- How are they using the platform and for what purpose?
- Which accounts are they following?
- How actively are they using the platform?
- What type of content are they engaging with the most?
In order to answer these correctly, you can get help from resources such as Insights to Go or Hootsuite’s annual report for a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of international social media insights.
Once you have a clear understanding, keep your persona in mind in all the following steps of planning your social media strategy.
Understand content trends, vocabulary, and hashtags
If you’re in a new social media territory, whether it be a brand-new platform or a new international user group, your first move should be to learn users’ unique ways of communicating to really understand them.
In order to do that you should be aware of the trends, well-performing content formats, dedicated vocabulary, neologisms (new words or expressions), references, puns, and hashtags used within a social media community. Without mastering these aspects, you can’t expect to connect with your target audience and have your message heard.
Especially considering that social media apps have search engine functionalities, local hashtags can help you reach your target audience faster in markets like Brazil where social media usage is very high.
But where can you start your research? A good place is the profiles of brands and industry leaders/influencers that are talking to the same audience as yours. Study their ways of communicating, identify key elements and see how you can incorporate these new elements into your international social media message.
Prepare the right schedule
It’s tempting to click the publish button when you have a great post ready, but at the end of the day, your content is as valuable as its reach. That’s why it’s crucial to research the best publishing times for your target audiences and create a schedule that enhances your posts’ visibility.
It’s important to stick to a posting schedule for three main reasons:
- It’ll help you achieve higher visibility on all platforms
- The consistency you establish will create expectations in your audience
- It’ll facilitate the management of your channels by automizing the publishing process
You can keep things organized by creating an Excel sheet defining your plan for different platforms and audiences as a reference. Some social media management tools (we’ll cover them later) could make it even easier with in-built calendars and scheduling features.
To improve your schedule, you can track results and experiment with different slots to find the formula that works best for your brand.
Build a multilingual social media team
Translation can get tricky when the language is full of idioms, jokes, and puns, — which is usually the case with creative content such as social media posts. In this case, relying solely on machine translation might cause more problems than it solves.
The best way to make sure your posts are understood in the way you intended is to work with a marketing translator who knows how to work through the challenges of translating creative content. This role may require transcreation — creating content directly in the target language rather than translating the text at hand — therefore it’s important to work with someone who’s familiar with your marketing strategy.
However, if you don’t have the means to work with a marketing translator, you can always get help from colleagues that speak the language. Keep in mind that they will require all the context and strategic direction you can give them to deliver the most accurate translation.
Another important role to fill in a successful international social media team is a graphic designer who understands the different considerations tied to multilingual design.
Following the best multilingual design practices doesn’t just save you time and improve the performance of your posts, it also helps you avoid potential cultural misunderstandings.
Determine new KPIs
Success can look different depending on the platform, industry, and user base. For example, opportunities for ecommerce brands on social media are quite different from SaaS businesses. In order to evaluate the performance of your international social media strategy correctly, you should re-define KPIs for each channel and target country.
Also, remember that each social media algorithms consider different metrics, and even they are subject to change over time. For example, for Instagram, “likes” were the main indicator until “comments” took the spotlight, and then finally “saves” proved to be the most relevant metric to track when assessing a post’s performance.
Once again you can take industry leaders/influencers, your competitors, or data from annual reports as a benchmark and decide what metrics and numbers you should aim for. These will change as you go, but it’s always important to have an informed direction.
How to execute your international social media strategy
Once your strategy is in place, it’s time to consider the different practices and approaches you can use to get the most out of your efforts. From content inspiration to key tools, the next chapter will give you practical tips on how to get started.
3 tips for creating engaging social media content for international audiences
As mentioned earlier, transcreation is a key practice when it comes to translating creative content. In addition to preserving the same message and feeling across all languages, transcreation guarantees better performance by localizing your content that resonates with your target audience.
Although it requires more time and effort, it’s a worthwhile practice — at least for the right type of message. To decide which type of content can benefit from transcreation the most, look into the aspects that can be localized.
For example, a post that announces a product discount can translate into other languages without a problem however, more intimate content that’s giving a look behind the scenes of your company, an influencer marketing campaign or an interview with a user, for example, can be more worthy of your efforts to recreate them in the target language.
According to research by Appia, 86% of localized content marketing campaigns outperform English campaigns both in click-through rates and conversion rates.
As a marketer, you already know images and videos are your best friends — especially when social media sites like Snapchat and TikTok are on the rise. But they are even more valuable when it comes to communicating with international audiences. With effective visual storytelling, you can even convey your message without needing any words at all.
So even for text-heavy platforms such as Twitter, visual components should always be included in your tweets to enhance the reach of your posts. And the best practice is to avoid using text as much as possible when you’re creating images, GIFs, or videos. For example, instead of saying “time of the event”, just use a clock icon/emoji to illustrate it, so it can be understood by everyone.
But be mindful when you’re using visual elements as they can mean different things to different audiences. From colors to symbols, multilingual design should always consider the possible associations in different cultures.
Images tell a story, and they can tell a different story in different markets—you need to make them resonate with your users.
Anne-Sophie Delafosse, localization manager at Deliveroo
Recurrent Content Formats
Recurrent content formats are the type of content that you share regularly on your communication channels. For example, on our own social media channels, we always share the feedback we get on review websites like G2 or Trustpilot.
This type of regular content helps your audience to understand your posts more easily as they get accustomed to the recurring format. It’s also more practical for marketers as it requires less preparation time and translates into different languages with less effort.
Determining an international social media posting approach
An important consideration is how you’re going to break the language barrier. Unfortunately, there is no Weglot equivalent tool for social media, but there are still ways you can make your profile multilingual.
Although limited, some social networks offer native multilingual functionalities. For example, you can create a LinkedIn company page in multiple languages or use Facebook Global Pages to translate your pages. Or you can use Facebook Messenger to speak to your customers in their native language. However, most platforms don’t offer any features to allow for seamless multilingual usage.
So there are three manual ways you can consider delivering content in different languages on social media sites:
1. Multi-posting in all languages
This method consists of sharing the same post multiple times in different languages. Although it’s preferred by some businesses (and governments) due to its balanced approach to both languages, it’s not ideal if you’re targeting more than two languages. Your feed can get crowded pretty quickly, and it’s possible to lose customers over repetitive posts that they don’t understand.
2. Posting with multilingual captions
A better solution is combining multilingual content within one post. To do that you can use multiple images and divide your caption into sections. It’s also important to let users know that the post is available in multiple languages before they miss it.
You can put a “multilingual icon” on your images or videos, and indicate at the beginning of the caption which languages are available below. Make sure to stick to your format and provide translations for all posts to keep consistency.
3. Creating language-specific profiles
Finally, you always have the option to create a country/language-specific profile. If one of your target audiences is especially significant for your brand, it might be worth creating a separate profile to speak directly to them.
However, keep in mind that this is more time-consuming and high maintenance than other methods. So make sure it’ll be worth the time you invest before diving into it and regularly analyze ROI to validate your efforts.
It’s also important that the content you’re sharing on different profiles doesn’t contradict each other. And even though language-specific profiles give you the flexibility to localize your content further, the branding and the tone should be consistent.
Assembling the best set of tools for effortless international social media management
Managing international social media campaigns is no easy task. Luckily, there are plenty of handy tools to make things easier. Here are some of the key tasks and the best tools to help you handle them:
Post creation: Canva
Marketers are no stranger to the graphic design tool Canva which is quite the game changer when it comes to creating visual content. The platform allows you to quickly compose ready-to-post images and videos thanks to its rich source of design assets and templates.
It’s also a great place to find inspiration for your posts. Just write the type of content you want to create, and you’ll see plenty of examples. Even for local holidays and events, Canva offers country/language specific design ideas. Once you create the perfect visual, Canva also allows you to schedule your creations on social media apps to save you time.
Everyone can benefit from grammar checks and reassurance that you indeed wrote “inconsequential” correctly. Grammarly is the go-to tool when it comes to typing assistants, but unfortunately, it doesn’t support other languages than English.
A great alternative for multilingual copy is LanguageTool, which allows you to write confidently in 25+ languages. It has a browser add-on, so it can seamlessly check your copy as you’re writing on any platform.
DeepL quickly became the no-brainer tool when it comes to machine translation. In addition to providing high-quality translations, DeepL also advises you on the best ways to approach the translation depending on the context with alternatives. This is a highly useful feature, especially for creative content translation on international social networking sites.
The downside of DeepL is that it mostly supports European languages. So if your target language is not available in DeepL, research which machine translation offers the best results for your language pair and use it for a first layer of translation to get a quick start. However, be extremely careful to always fine-tune these machine translations to avoid errors.
Social Media Management: Zoho Social
There is no shortage of social media management apps nowadays, but our favorite has to be Zoho! What makes this tool especially useful for international social media management is its user-friendly and intuitive interface. Things can get quite messy when you’re managing many channels in multiple languages, so an easy-to-navigate dashboard is life-saving.
In addition to advanced publishing features like the calendar view, drafts, or bulk scheduling, Zoho also offers collaboration, monitoring, and analytics. Thanks to its integration capabilities, it’s the perfect addition to your international social media toolkit.
When it comes to video, subtitles can allow you to deliver a message in two languages, which is a huge win for multilingual social media profiles. Veed.io is an AI-powered tool that automatically transcribes audio and prepares subtitles in multiple languages, ready to be used on your social media videos.
The capabilities of this app don’t stop there as it also helps you to add progress bars, background music, stickers, filters, and special effects to make your videos even more noticeable and explanatory!
So now you know everything you need to get started on international social media marketing and connect with your global audience! The online social landscape has a lot to offer, and you shouldn’t waste another minute missing out on the great opportunities.
Although international social media practices require extra work, you’re sure to get the most out of your efforts by using the strategies and tips shared in this guide. Luckily, translating your website is way easier thanks to Weglot! Want to see for yourself? Start your 10-day free trial now.