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Over half the world now uses social media. It’s an essential marketing tool to reach and engage your customers. Want to build a successful global social media strategy? Here’s how to connect with your audiences.

Around the world, the average user spends nearly two and a half hours per day scrolling, liking and sharing. And it’s set to grow in the coming years. How can you make sure your social channels appeal to your target audiences – both in your home market and internationally? 

As a brand, the chances are you’re already set up on multiple social media channels. Perhaps you use them to communicate with your customers and showcase your product or service. But does your strategy effectively cater to all your international audiences? 

There are 4.7 billion social media users worldwide, active on an average of 7.4 platforms each month. So a global strategy is essential for engaging your customers, or to help launch in new markets. 

Your approach will depend on your international marketing goals. Here are some options to consider.

THE GLOBAL APPROACH

You could create impactful, locally relevant content while maintaining just one centralized brand account per platform. 

To do this, partner with in-market experts who can help incorporate local references and vocabulary into your content that’s relevant to your audience. Nike did this well with their 2021 “Own the Floor” campaign.

They appealed to a local target audience by showcasing areas that would resonate with New Yorkers. The video portrayed everyday locations like subway platforms and pizzerias as stages for dancers. The video appealed to global audiences as the iconic city was still recognizable. But it spoke to consumers on a local level too.

Influencer marketing can be a powerful tool. Collaborating with local influencers helps you engage your international audiences. Work with a localization partner that has a network of trusted influencers suitable for your brand.

Think about which platform works best for your influencer campaigns. TikTok and Instagram seem to be obvious choices. But you should consider which platforms will be the most effective in different markets. For example, in Latin America 80% of people discover new brands on Facebook. So partnerships on that platform will likely be more effective. 

Region-specific platforms are just as important. They’ll target your audience where they already spend time online. L’Occitane launched on Weibo and WeChat in 2014, pushing online sales through ads. 

Since then, the brand has seen huge success in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. In 2022 China was L’Occitane’s biggest growth market. 

Their use of social media shows that you can’t ignore local platforms when it comes to your global strategy. 

THE LOCAL APPROACH

Global brands benefit from connecting with their customers in their own language. 40% of people won’t buy products that aren’t sold to them in their own language. With social commerce on the rise, you may want to invest in localizing your content for region-specific channels. 

Take Urban Outfitters. The global retail brand has different Instagram accounts for regions (@urbanoutfitterseu), countries (@uogermany) and even cities (@uobarcelona). The purpose? Targeted, relevant content in the audience’s language. 

Localized channels allow you to create targeted content and make the most of local user-generated content (UGC). But simply translating your original copy won’t cut it. 

To resonate with your followers, your content must have local references and nuance. Language on social media usually includes puns and references that may not be relevant to your target market.

Localization applies to visual content too. Your audience should identify with your images and videos on social, so ensuring they’re culturally appropriate and relevant is important. In-market social media experts are key to this approach and to help scale your localized channels. 

TARGET AUDIENCES 

Of course, your global social media strategy will depend on your target audience. Here’s how to get your approach right.

YOUNG OR OLD?

Global consumers aged 20-29 are prolific on socials. They make up nearly a third of users worldwide. From a statistical point of view (without taking your target audience into account), it makes sense to skew young when it comes to creating global content.

If you want to engage a younger audience, TikTok and Instagram are safe bets. 90% of Gen Z are active on Instagram and 68% on TikTok. Only 2% are active on TikTok and not Instagram. So if you can only focus on one, Instagram makes the most sense.

Millennials also love social media. But they value UGC, authenticity and connection on social media. For them, it’s all about sharing experiences. To win over millennials on social, stay proactive. Customer service is important to them. And instead of pushing products, build a community and a brand experience they’ll want to be a part of.

GENDER AND INCLUSIVITY

When it comes to your target audience on social media, inclusivity is an important consideration. While gender may be a significant factor in your strategy, Gen Z and Millenials want to see more gender neutrality from brands. 48% of Gen Z consumers and 38% of consumers from other generations value brands that don’t classify their products by gender.

What does this mean for your social strategy? It can be useful to know the demographics of social media users across platforms. For example, 50.7% of Instagram users and 56.6% of Facebook users identify as male, but 57% of TikTok users identify as female. And women spend more time on social media, with women aged between 16-24 being the most active. 

That said, when implementing your strategy, look for opportunities to flip the script. Even if you’re targeting a specific gender, how can you make sure your content is as inclusive as possible?

Milk Makeup was a trailblazer, with their 2017 “Blur the Lines” campaign. The brand challenged stereotypes by marketing to men and non-binary people, who were reflected in the campaign’s imagery.

Brands such as Virgin and Calvin Klein have followed with inclusive advertising, acknowledging and highlighting their audiences beyond the binary. 

For international brands, inclusivity on social media cross-market and in multiple languages can present challenges. Some languages are inherently ‘gendered’ and approaches to gender inclusivity may not be the same as in your home market. In-market knowledge and guidance is crucial to ensure you get it right. 

TWO ESSENTIALS FOR GLOBAL SOCIAL SUCCESS

To stand out to your international audiences, authenticity and brand positioning are key. What does this look like for your global social strategy?

BRAND RESEARCH

Meet your customers where they spend their time. 23% of UK consumers use social media to discover new products, rising to 43% among 18-24-year-olds. 

Whatever you’re selling, social media is your shop window. Your content should tell your brand story, connecting potential customers to your product. Concentrate on your community management and humanizing your brand to achieve this. And make sure you’re telling your brand story effectively in your target languages to reach – and resonate with – your local audiences. 

The number of social buyers has grown in the UK alone, from 9.6 million in 2019 to 15.1 million users in 2022. This will increase to 17.9 million shoppers by 2028. 

Now’s the time to optimize your platforms for social commerce. Working with influencers, integrating customer support and setting up targeted ads are the first steps on your social commerce journey.

Buying on social allows users to feel empowered and connect to brands and products via recommendations. With authenticity and trust, more consumers will be drawn to your brand online. 

AUTHENTICITY

During the pandemic, users turned to social media for a place to connect. Brands needed to – and still should – prioritize authenticity and community to resonate with and engage their audiences. 

In the UK, US and Australia, 88% of consumers think authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and buy from. In the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, 40% of shoppers choose brands with values that align with their own. 

What does authenticity look like? That’s up to the consumer. Brand authenticity rests on how you’re perceived by your customers. If they feel you’re staying true to your values and are truly motivated by your customers’ needs, their trust will follow. 

Some steps to conveying your authentic brand on social include community management. How are you responding to customers and followers? Are you engaging with them in DMs and replying to comments?

UGC helps you create connection and build a community among your followers. 79% of consumers say UGC impacts their purchasing decisions. It’s therefore an integral part of conveying your brand’s authenticity online. Knowing your audiences and a solid brand strategy will help determine how to communicate your brand authentically online. 

FINAL THOUGHT 

Social media offers huge potential for your brand. As ever, the trick is to know your target audience and adjust your strategy accordingly. Building a successful global social media strategy doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul. A nuanced approach considering your target audiences and their preferences will be enough to resonate with your global audiences. 

Need support with your international social media strategy? Find out how we can help here, then get in touch.