Inbound Marketing Series Part 3: Global Social Media Trends

Posted by Rick Antezana on September 09, 2014

Global Social Media Trends And The Art Of Engaging International Audiences:

We kicked off our inbound marketing series by looking at how to prepare a website for international markets, before we moved on to international SEO and content strategy. Next up we need to talk social media marketing and how to engage a foreign speaking audience with social content.

Social media has taken the world by storm and it's your challenge as an inbound marketer to address the unique social habits around the globe as your clients expand into different nations, languages and cultures. 

Think mobile and know your networks

South America is the fastest rising internet demographic with mobile browsing and social media growing at a viral rate. Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela are at the forefront of this emerging market, with Bolivia and El Salvador closely behind - while Mexico is driving a giant mobile market in Central America.

Facebook dominates across South America and Asia, but Twitter is way off the pace on the Asian continent as a whole. On a more local scale, Twitter is on the rise in South East Asia - particularly in Indonesia - however the blue bird is banned altogether in China. Meanwhile, messaging app 2go is the number one social network in Nigeria and Mxit goes head-to-head with Facebook in South Africa.

Engaging with a foreign speaking audience

Once you know which networks are most effective for your client's marketing strategy you have the much tougher task of creating content to engage their overseas audience. Which means you need to know more about them, how they use social media and what kind of content they consume.

If your client wants to expand into a developing nation like Brazil, the consumerist class may not be the majority - which calls for a different approach. The reason mobile internet has exploded in South America, Asia and Africa is because many people can't afford a computer and social media habits vary dramatically.


Egypt is the most socially engaged audience of the 'developing' countries, while the Philippines catching up fast. Here you will find social media is generally a mobile experience, used on a daily basis to connect with family and discuss pop culture and politics.

Cultural factors in social media marketing

As an inbound marketer you will have seen many examples of social media gone wrong. There is a thin line between viral content and a damaged reputation in front of a worldwide audience - an exclusive club you don't want to join.

Many companies make social media gaffes in their own language and this month alone we have seen American Apparel and One Plus condemned for 'sexist' social campaigns, while Australian coffee firm Fresh One had 6 out of 12 new ads pulled for "glamorising sex acts and drug use.

Multicultural Marketing can be tricky

For social content to succeed in a foreign speaking market it needs to find the right balance between impact and respect for the cultural background and values of its audience. Play it safe and you run the risk of bland content that nobody wants to engage with, while the other extreme could offend your audience or even the authorities. Which is why cultural understanding, accurate translation and localized content need to be at the heart of international marketing strategies.

Next Up For Our Inbound Marketing Series:

We round up our inbound marketing series with a look beyond the language and a focus on business factors that affect international inbound marketing in Part 4: Business Factors That Impact Global Marketing.

Eyes On Inbound 2014:

Part 1: Marketing Globally via Multilingual Websites

Part 2: Go Global With International SEO

Part 3: Global Social Media Trends

Part 4: Business Factors That Impact Global Marketing

Topics: Marketing