One might assume that when global brands run social media pages in foreign markets that they localise the content.  

Surprisingly, though, many don't.

Sure, the text is translated and links point to a local website, but a lot of what is posted on social media in Asia, for example, is surprisingly similar to what is posted in the brands' home countries.

There are many good reasons for this.

First off, it's easier to manage. Marketing resources may be stretched and having one base creative makes it much easier to roll out a campaign globally.

Also, many brands prefer to project a single image globally. Doing so avoids having to have difficult discussions between the regional and HQ marketing teams.

And finally, sticking to a single creative globally makes compliance much easier. Only one set of approvals from legal required.

But brands who do make an effort to localise their content, benefit from overcoming the obstacles. Here are three ways in which they do, with examples.

1. Localisation makes a brand look more customer-focused

Centrally-managed content is good for the brand for the reasons cited above, but nowadays many marketing teams have another goal.

They are also looking for ways to improve customer experience, and offering localised content is one effective way of doing so.

When you provide content that has clearly been designed for the market you are posting for, customers can see that you are focusing on their needs as opposed to just running the brand messaging.

Uniqlo example:

For example, Uniqlo has Facebook pages which are localised by country.

This allows the marketing team to promote summer clothes in Hong Kong on the same day it is showing winter gear in Australia.

Targeting like this makes the social media seem in touch with the local market and reflects well on the customer experience aspect of the brand.

2. Localising content encourages comments and shares

Social media works best for brands when they can elicit feedback from their fans. To do this, though, brands have to offer fans an opportunity to identify with what is being posted.

If local fans see things which they recognise, then the brand will have a better chance to reach them at an emotional level.  

And, as a result, the fans will be more likely to share.

Magnum example:

Earlier this year, Magnum featured a series of tweets of celebrities creating their own bespoke Magnum ice cream in Cannes during the film festival.

In order to appeal to its local audiences, however, Magnum showed different celebrities at the event to different Twitter feeds.

The Magnum UK feed featured fashion model Kendall Jenner...

..and the Magnum Thailand feed featured Thai celebrity Davika Hoorne (Mai).

It must have been expensive for the Magnum team to fly in models to localise the content, and risky too. What if nobody cared?

But, the response from Thai fans was overwhelming.

The photos received thousands of likes and retweets and built significant goodwill between Magnum and its fans in Thailand.

3. Brands can demonstrate local cultural sensitivity

Religion is a tricky subject to touch on in marketing. Brands typically, and wisely, avoid it.

However, if a particular religious custom is pervasive in a country, then it may be worthwhile for brands to acknowledge that it exists via social media.  

Doing so shows that the brand understands its consumers and their culture at a deeper level. This can, in turn, increase local affinity.

Coca-Cola example:

Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting, is a big part of life in the predominantly-Muslim country Indonesia.

Coca-Cola recently ran a video campaign which managed to address the period and how it affects life, sensitively.

In the video series, a teenager is repeatedly tempted to break his fast during the day, but waits until the proper time to do so - and then does so with a big glass of Coke, naturally.

The amount of supportive likes, comments, and shares for this series of videos were off the charts.

Coca-Cola's social media team also took the opportunity to respond to each comment.

The success of this series of posts is a testament to the reach and impact that can be achieved with localising content, even when it might be seen by some as a topic which crosses the line.

So...

It's awfully tempting to create social media posts centrally and then just ask the regional teams to translate and repost.

Social media, however, works best for brands when they reach their audience emotionally.  

This can be achieved by posting content specifically produced for the local market.

It demonstrates that a brand is more serious about the local market and that it is not just superficially interested in its customers there.

As seen by the examples above, it takes some work to do this well.

Brands who make the effort, though, will stand out from competitors and build strong affinity with the local market.

Jeff Rajeck

Published 14 July, 2016 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

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Adam Edwards, Director of Digital Marketing at SMSW Media Limited

Great article - so many fashion brands we work with start off by restricting their social content across the globe but those that allow us to localise content really reap the rewards, it shows in both engagement and sales.

almost 2 years ago

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Adam Edwards, Director of Digital Marketing at SMSW Media Limited

Great article - so many fashion brands we work with start off by restricting their social content across the globe but those that allow us to localise content really reap the rewards, it shows in both engagement and sales.

almost 2 years ago

Lauren Johnson-Ginn

Lauren Johnson-Ginn, Content Marketing Manager at Quill Content

Really interesting article, thanks Jeff! Couldn't agree more with this assessment - working with local teams makes such a difference, particularly when it comes to identifying marketing messages that simply won't resonate / don't translate in other markets. Do you think that allowing a high level of local creative licence ever dilutes the overall brand?

almost 2 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

Thanks! If the brand messaging is strong and the local teams are given conceptual guidelines, then I think that local creative can enhance the brand. The Indonesia Coca-cola ad is a great example of this.

almost 2 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

Thanks! If the brand messaging is strong and the local teams are given conceptual guidelines, then I think that local creative can enhance the brand. The Indonesia Coca-cola ad is a great example of this.

almost 2 years ago

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Mary Parra, Marketing at Arancho Doc

Hello! Great article! This approach seems very important for brands in B2C, (awareness of culture, local trends and impact of local news, etc) What about B2B? Can you give some examples of the type of aspects in B2B that could be worth localizing?

5 months ago

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