The Secret to Managing an International Follower Base on Social Media

social media

More companies are building out multi-language social media as part of their marketing strategy. Is this strategy right for you?

Importance of Social Media Channels for a Business

Social platforms not only provide a way to reach your customers and prospects to increase brand awareness and generate leads, but they also allow you to interact and communicate with your audience directly.

Social media helps:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Build trust and authority
  • Engage users
  • Provide one-to-many and one-to-one communication

More than half of the world’s population uses social media.

By year-end 2021, the total number of users is projected to reach 3.78 billion. Yet, only a quarter speak English.

Social Media Channels in Other Languages

If you’re not running social media campaigns in other languages, you’re missing out on a huge market for your products and services — especially if your competitors are already up and running.

Creating a multilingual social media strategy to speak to an international follower base is a smart move in today’s global society for several reasons:

1. Increase Comfort and Purchase Intent

Despite the growing use of English internationally, consumers are still more likely to interact with content when it’s in their native language.

More than two-thirds of online consumers say content in their preferred language is important, and it’s reflected in their purchase decisions, says CSA Research

Given the choice between two similar products, 66% will choose the one in their preferred language. For those not fully conversant in English, the number rises to 85%.

2. Build Better Relationships

When it comes to building better relationships with customers, the same CSA Research study found that language plays a significant role both in content and service.

75% of those surveyed say they are more likely to purchase from the same brand again if customer care is in their preferred language.

Even 60% of the consumers who are confident in their English skills favor customer support and interaction in their own language.

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Much of the customer journey is built on a foundation of trust.

When you talk to people in their first language, you’re building trust in your brand and demonstrating that you will be there to serve their needs.


3. Improve Distribution

Social media algorithms favor content that gets likes, shares, and comments. When content is in someone’s native language, readers are more likely to engage.

This not only helps increase your reach but can also boost search results.

4. Get More Mileage for Existing Content

When you spend the time to create relevant and engaging content, you want as many people in your target audience to see it.

By adapting your existing content (or new content as you create it) into additional languages, you can extend and enhance the value of the content.

Many major brands are now using translators to take the content and repurpose it in various forms of social media.

The most aggressive companies are using native speakers to write content rather than just translate to ensure they conform with local norms and language.

5. Common Languages

Facebook says two-thirds of its users communicate in a language other than English. Content is published on social media sites in more than 160 languages.

Overall, the language breakdown for online users looks like this: 25.9% English, 19.4% Chinese, 7.9% Spanish, 5.2% Arabic, 4.3% Indonesian/Malaysian, 3.7% Portuguese, 3.3% French, 2.6% Japanese, 2.5% Russian, 2% German, and 23.1% Other.

5 Tips for Managing an International Follower Base on Social Media

If you’re thinking about launching multi-language accounts, here are five things to consider when managing an international follower base on social media.

1. Demographics

Developing content for social media in other languages requires you to learn your target audiences and who they are.

By looking at your current social media stats, you can likely get a basic understanding of demographics like age along with behavioral analytics.

You can use the data to model similar audiences in your target language.

You can also break out social media reach by countries and languages, so if you see traffic from non-English-speaking countries already, this may be a good target market to start building and managing an international follower base on social media.

2. Auto Reply

You’ll need to manage your auto-replies. If someone asks a question in German, for example, you want to respond in kind.

If you invest in creating content in different languages, you will also need to provide social media (and customer) support in different languages — or risk alienating the very audience you are trying to attract.

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Auto-translation programs are often filled with errors and can create a cultural faux pas.

3. Target Audience Cultures

While you may want to approach marketing globally, you will connect more with customers when you act locally.

Understanding the local cultures, customs, and trends can make a significant difference in how you are perceived and avoid some missteps.

In China, the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for death.

Labeling something as “4 reasons to…” would be a cultural mistake. A button in French translates to “bouton,” but it’s used by teens as slang to mean pimples.

When Toyota rolled out its MR2 sports car in France, it translated roughly to “merdeux,” which literally means “sh*t.”

That’s why many marketers choose to use native speakers or local translators to massage their message to avoid language blunders.

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4. Filtering Messages

When social media users set up their accounts, they select their language preferences. If you’re not creating social content in their chosen language, they may never see your posts.

You can filter your messages by language so that you can show content and images in people’s preferred language while avoiding spamming someone with content in another language.

5. Multiple Language Pages

Do you need multiple social media accounts for different languages? It’s a fair question, and the answer depends on your goals, reach, and resources.

For organizations targeting a global audience, it may be worth splitting off. Companies such as Cisco and Sony have social accounts in multiple languages.

Tech company Fortinet also has multiple social media accounts, including Fortinet Taiwan on Facebook. Microsoft has a Spanish and an Arabic Twitter feed.

Some companies have as many as 10 different social accounts in varying languages.

Marketing to a More Diverse Customer Base

Creating an international follower base on social media can help market your products and services to a more diverse customer base, increase engagement for native speakers, and build trust in your brand.

However, you need to understand the risks of doing it poorly. A successful implementation requires attention to detail and the support to engage with people in their native tongue.

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