According to Econsultancy’s 2010 Social Media and Online PR report, 83% of marketers will increase social media spend next year, but only 26% will run campaigns in more than one country, why is this?

Essentially then, these businesses will be increasing their marketing spend in their local markets on a medium which, while undeniably very exciting and useful, has yet to be furnished with a reliable method for measuring ROI.

Meanwhile, they’ll ignore the opportunities presented by localisation, which does have a proven ROI, and a very healthy one at that (the Common Sense Advisory considers the average return for every US$1 spent on localisation to be US$25).

Now this is not to say that I think digital marketers should ignore social media and instead work on creating and optimising localised websites for foreign language markets. On the contrary, the two should go hand-in-hand. It makes sense that if you’re putting the time and money into creating a social media campaign for, say, the UK, then it will be well worth your time to take the extra step of localising that campaign for any foreign markets you’re active in.

This is especially true for foreign markets with significant social media use, such as India, South Korea, China (where 92% of all web surfers use social media, compared with some 75% in the USA) and Turkey (which has the fifth largest Facebook population in the world). It stands to reason that the larger your potential audience on a social network, and the more active they are, the more effective your campaign will be.

You may wonder why you would bother with social media campaigns in foreign languages if your business only operates in the one country and has no intention of expanding to foreign markets - which is a fair point, prima facie, but this outlook completely discounts the foreign language markets within your own country.

For instance, think of the number of Polish speakers in the UK, or Spanish speakers in the USA, or Turkish speakers in Germany. Let’s take just the Spanish speakers in the USA into consideration for now: according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the purchasing power of US Hispanics will reach US$1.2 trillion in 2011, which is more than the total GDP of Canada and Mexico.

There’s also evidence that localising social media campaigns for ethnic languages works – a 2009 study by eMarketer found that on Myspace Latino, ads in Spanish were 20% more effective than ads in English, this despite it being a social networking site geared towards a bilingual (English and Spanish) audience.

My point is that the power of the foreign language internet can’t be ignored, even (or especially) when it comes to social media. If you’re planning a big social media push in 2011, it would be worth having a think about what languages your potential audience will be speaking, and tweaking some localised social campaigns for them. Your ROI will thank you.

Christian Arno

Published 1 October, 2010 by Christian Arno

Christian Arno is Founder and Managing Director of Lingo24 and a contributor to Econsultancy. He can also be found on Twitter

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Comments (2)


Janaki Pendyala

Good perspective, Well..the intelligent combination of both social media strategy and a local campaign could result in reaching wider audience across the markets which are hitherto unexplored. Yet measuring the results still remains elusive. Janaki

almost 8 years ago

Grant Whiteside

Grant Whiteside, Technical Director at Ambergreen Internet Marketing

Christian you have a very valid point and in the ideal world, where companies were geared up to respond to multi lingual dialogue and multi cultural engagement; uptake of strategies like this would be huge; and rightfully so.

The sad fact is, many brands are still frightened of engaging with their audience in their own language, let alone in a foreign tongue or a diversified culture. And so the divide commonly begins; The marketing team loves the idea whilst the PR department of global brand x struggles with the idea of a fully open dialogue with their customers, living in fear of real opinions or valid criticism.Now try adding multi cultural or multi lingual aspects to this. In so many cases it is easier to say no than to address the issue.

We have witnessed a reluctance of clients to jump into marketing strategies like these without an analysis of benchmarked improvement. It's the easiest excuse in the book; if we cant measure it, we cant run this campaign.

I know we have a long way to go to get big brands seeing the whole picture. But, the bottom line is engagement can be measured, channels and channel contribution can be measured. It is global brand cultural that needs its hand held. We'll get here eventually.

almost 8 years ago

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