In the 21st century, culture and its importance to business and brand prosperity cannot be negated.
What really is culture and why is it so important?
Wikipedia explains that culture is "central to the way we live, experience and engage all aspects of our lives and the world around us." In essence, it is the total sum of our attitudes, customs and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another.
You may be asking, how does this relate to social media success on an international scale?
It is important to realise that we live and operate on a global playing field. Through technology, the Internet and social media, we're no longer confined to doing business in one physical location and frankly, that's awesome. It's the reason that I, living in Barbados, am able to share this blog post with many around the world. However, to be successful in social media away from home, you need to be aware of the culture of the market you're looking to enter. In the long run, this can ensure significant business success.
So how do you leverage culture to ensure this kind of social media success? The basics still apply, however, there is a little more work involved.
Here's what you can do:
Concentrate on Your Research:
It's important before entering into a market, that you understand how it works and responds to marketing and advertising. Promotions that may have worked at home may not be understood by your new target audience. So do you research. Google is a treasure trove of information. It's also great to research similar companies and let them inspire you to create your own unique approach while adhering to cultural norms.
Be Aware of the Education Level, Language, Religion, Law and Politics of Your International Market:
While you're doing your research for the international market, it's important that you be aware of a few things. Namely, the education level, language spoken, religion and law and politics of the land. This will help you to firmly solidify your social media strategy, build connections and encourage engagement with your social audience. It's important to note that being aware of these cultural aspects can also save you from illegal advertising practices and offending the very audience you wish to attract.
Create Social Media Profiles Specific to Your International Market:
Whether you're thinking of entering Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean or North America, is important that you create separate social media profiles for your desired international market. This helps to build a sense of community and connection with your target audience.
Craft Culturally Relevant Content:
When creating a content strategy for your international market, ensure that the promotional images and messages subtly reflect the culture of the international market without losing your business' brand integrity.
Take Local Holidays Seriously:
Local holidays? Yes. Local holidays of your international market, that is. This is a great time for you to run interactive contests on social media. It builds connection with your international audience and enthusiasm towards your brand.
Encourage User-Generated Content:
One way to solidify your relationship with your international market, is by encouraging your international audience to share photos and videos interacting with your brand. Sharing this content on your social media platforms, in addition to providing rewards, such and gift certificates and memorabilia can further cement customer loyalty and connection.
I bet you're wondering, do these tips really work?
Yes, they do. I've had the opportunity over the last year and half to manage the social media platforms for an internationally recognised fast food brand. Knowing my local market [Barbados], like I do, I was able create an online community that responds well to promotional advertising from the brand while still adhering to cultural norms. Capitalizing on local holidays for brand contests has proven to be more than successful. Regardless of your current market, whether is it local or international there is one word that underlies any successful social media strategy, and that is CONNECTION.