Going Global by Going Local: Why Localization Improves Engagement

Brian Solis Posted by

The world is becoming a much smaller place. But even with social media contributing to a globally connected society, businesses that continue to take a global approach to social content and engagement may be missing opportunities for greater resonance and relevance. While a global presence is necessary for any organization hoping to connect with customers around the world, placing reliance on one prevailing strategy is just the beginning. In any web strategy, including social and also mobile media,   localization is king.

In my work and research over the years, I’ve observed a significant number of businesses that employ English-driven initiatives across the Web. As customers grow increasingly depended on social networks, paying particular attention to Facebook, a “one size fits all” program may make assumptions that miss the opportunity to engage people their way in the last mile. Data shows that customizing or localizing content for specific markets and cultures dramatically multiplies desired effect. In the great race to win the hearts and minds of customers, localization also helps customers feel better about the resulting clicks they make following each engagement.

Social CMS and SMMS systems such as Buddy Media, Vitrue, Wildfire, Spredfast, Involver, Expion, among many others, enable brands to publish once to many pages across social networks. Whether it’s Facebook, Youtube, Google+, Twitter, all of the above or a combination there-of, English-centric strategies can not only be centrally managed by the global brand team, but also further localized for important countries by the local country manager or their local team.

A brief study of average customer engagement on Facebook Fan pages around the world in 2010 helps illustrate the point of why localized strategies are important. In the review, Starbucks and Blackberry country pages that featured localized content in addition to the global initiatives fostered interaction as much as 10 – 15x than those which featured English-only content. And now with F-commerce and social and mobile commerce becoming pivotal in defining and activating customer relationships within their channels of preference, localized initiatives will only grow your opportunity.

To that point, Translated.net recently published its T-Index report, which projects the top countries global businesses should examine to increase online commerce and engagement. According to the report, the Top 10 countries for selling online through 2015 are as follows…

  1. China
  2. Unites States
  3. Japan
  4. Brazil
  5. Germany
  6. Russia
  7. France
  8. United Kingdom
  9. South Korea
  10. Mexico

Translated.net projects China to earn a market share of 18.8%, compared to 11.5% in 2011. According to these numbers, China is estimated to overtake the Unites States, which may see its aggregate online sales decline from 24.4% in 2011 to 16.8% by 2015. It’s estimated that Japan will remain third overall despite a market share reduction of -25.7% compared to 2011.With an estimated market share change of +43.3%, Brazil will jump into fourth place. Russia too will leap two positions to sixth overall with a change of +27.5%.

2011-2015 trend showing the countries with the highest potential for online sales

As you plan you global content and commerce strategy, it’s also important to review the languages that offer the highest potential. According to the T-Index report, English will continue as the top language with an estimated 25.4% through 2015 with Chinese Simplified growing to 18.9%. Spanish follows in third with 8.5%. As you can see, many other languages will play a role in your strategies, which is why it’s vital to employ a syndicated and localized content, commerce, and engagement strategy across all media.

Yes, the world is becoming a much smaller place. And, yes, global strategies establish a unified brand. In 2012 and over the next few years, going local will only improve engagement, resonance, and ultimately commerce in the last mile.  To make the most out of the oppotunity

1. Employ a Global Strategy, but also focus on Localized Initiatives for content, commerce, and engagement within in important market.

2. Empower Country Managers to extend the global vision, mission, and purpose for essential languages and cultures.

3. Create a centralized Global Directory that points customers around the world to their specific country page

4. Design a Syndicated Content, Commerce, and Engagement program that connects with customers their way in their channel of preference (the recipe of mobile, social, digital, and emerging media will vary from market to market)

5. Explore the data shared in the T-Index report to prioritize your Global Initiatives

Think global. Act local.

Part 15 in an ongoing series that serves as the prequel to my new book, The End of Business as Usual


About the Author: Brian Solis is principal at FutureWorks PR, an award-winning PR and Social Media agency founded in 1999. FW PR bridges the communications gap between companies and their customers, and between products and their specific benefits for their target markets. Solis blogs at PR2.0, http://www.briansolis.com, and regularly contributes to many industry trades. He is also frequently quoted in articles relating to technology trends and Marketing/PR strategies.

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