Successfully venturing into a new market takes more than just a passport and a prayer. Once the business and marketing goals have been clearly defined, a social media marketing plan needs to be created to assist in meeting those goals. Potential opportunities and pitfalls need to be identified ahead of your arrival. This expansion can be a defining period for a business, make sure it’s one of the most successful by taking stock of key cultural distinctions, operational procedures, and challenges that your social media team may face.
If your business already has an active social presence in other markets, there are ways social media can strengthen your brand and help acquire new customers within that region. We’ve highlighted key areas that every business needs to consider when entering into a new international market or expanding to a new region. Moreover, we’ve also asked around for some best practice advice from companies regarding the challenges they faced when creating a social media strategy in a new area.
1. How Can You Locate Members Of Your Target Audience?
Before entering a new region your business will of course have a clearly defined outline of the audience they will be targeting. Your social media team needs to have a strategy to actively discover and target the social profiles of this new audience. Actions to take could include:
2. Who Is Already A Fan?
To help develop a core following in the new territory as quickly as possible, we recommend identifying Twitter users of the new territory who are already following your existing corporate accounts. The quicker you can show you have the approval of a relevant audience, the better your brand may be perceived. You can segment your current Twitter followers by region, find the ones who reside in this new market, put them into a Tailored Audience Twitter list, then target them with a personalised DM campaign alerting them to the new profile and the benefits of following it. There are also cross-channel retargeting possibilities that you could potentially take advantage of by using an Email Integration tool to find members of your current email database on Twitter and then segment them by location.
While you need to acknowledge that what works with one market won’t necessarily translate accurately to a market on the other side of the planet, there may be opportunities for repeat success with techniques you have used elsewhere. Ensure that you identify previous tactics or approaches to test for ones that could help drive your KPIs for new markets. Twitter Ads campaigns allow for lots of different Tweets to be posted in a campaign, with the most successful version automatically being shown the more often once a suitable amount of data has been gathered. Here you could test a variant of a previously successful Tweet to assess its compatibility with your new market.
“We keep records of everything we’ve ever posted on social. So when someone starts we give them a pool of “Grade A” posts that performed well and “Grade B” posts that didn’t do quite so well, that way they can hopefully develop those ideas or learn from them to build “Grade A+” content. It’s been really useful at helping us carve a consistent social presence in international markets – we’ve got a full library of content that we can send to the team over there to help get them clued up on what has worked well for our brand and what hasn’t.”
Joe McEwan, Head Of Digital & Communities, Innocent Drinks [Extract from this interview]
4. What Local Nuances Do You Need To Be Aware Of?
Although your brand needs to have a synergy across markets in terms of presentation, message, and service, you need to consider the cultural differences of the market/region that you’re entering into. A campaign could face problems in a new market and under-perform if you neglect to research the beliefs, tastes, or humour of the new target audience in the country/region. On top of this, the implications of not checking the local laws and customs could potentially present you with legal difficulties.
Different countries have adapted to social media in different ways, so research how those platforms are being used and how you can benefit from them. For example, in Saudi Arabia, Twitter is currently being used by 41% of the online population and would be a cornerstone of a marketing presence in that region. Meanwhile, Twitter is banned in China, yet it’s still used by over 80 million people so should still be worth considering if your business is entering that market. The way the local people use these social channels is also something you need to gain an understanding of.
“When looking at new markets, you have to assess how channels are used, and in what way your business fits in them. For example, while in most countries Facebook is used almost exclusively for consumer communications, in some it’s widely used professionally in a B2B environment. These nuances need to factored into your expansion strategy.”
Ana Jenkins, Digital Content Manager, Visa Europe
6. How Will Social Media Assist With The Launch?
You need to collaborate with your Marketing and PR teams to establish where social media fits in to the launch strategies that they have in place. You could use analytics tools to help decide which local influencers to invite to the launch event, you could add an extra dimension to any PR activities, or create a campaign that assists any cross-channel promotions that the brand is running. You could even launch a competition to raise awareness of the brand launch in a new region, like River Island did with #BattleofBritain when they opened in South Africa.
7. How Will Your New Regional Accounts Affect Your Main Corporate Account?
You now need to consider the role that this region has when posting from your primary corporate account. There may still be a crossover from your main account to all regions with global campaigns, is it better to target everyone from one overarching brand profile or would you prefer your regional satellite profiles to tailor the message to suit their markets? Alternatively, if major news about your brand is emanating from a different region then it needs to be dictated whose mandate it falls within to be the voice of the brand for any announcements relating to the news.
8. Do You Need To Use A Local Agency?
Depending on the size of the marketing team you plan on building in the new territory, you might be able to hire a full social media team to handle all of your accounts and activity. Alternatively, you may decide that hiring a local agency who have experience of successfully running social profiles is the best option for you.
If you do use an agency, consider how much of a hands-on approach you will take, so they know how flexible they can be within your brief. Other things to consider is whether they will be able to engage with customers in real time and identify and create engaging localised content fast. You also need to build a governance model outlining what your crisis plans entails, and what happens to any social accounts related to your brand if you decide to stop using the agency.
9. Where Will Customer Support Fit In?
There are a myriad of choices for how to organise your customer support when you enter new markets. You could set up an account specifically for that particular market, or organise how to share the duties of this new region with any existing customer support channels. Even if you don’t want to offer customer support via social media, you need to establish where to direct people if they contact you asking for help or advice. Whatever happens, you must remain clear about the most efficient route that customers need to take to receive support in their country or area.
Placing these questions at the forefront of your discussion when expanding your social media presence into new areas will help to assure your goals are met and the transition is as smooth as possible. What other social media factors do you think about when your business enters a new territory?