These days, social networks are an essential part of every marketer’s arsenal. However, as the predominant language of the business world is English, we tend to think in English language terms when devising EMEA brand-building strategies on social media.
But when it comes to winning friends and influencing people, it pays to mind your language.
Take the mighty LinkedIn as an example. For most B2B brands, it’s the primary platform for thought leadership and lead generation. It is now accessible in 24 languages, which is great. Digital marketers are already targeting their local language posts to the correct geographical area, ensuring the right information reaches the right reader in a way that is easily accessible. From our perspective it’s easy to think ‘job done!’
But increasingly we’re wising up to the fact that we can’t rely on LinkedIn alone. Whilst our friends in Continental Europe can see the major benefits of having company pages in their own languages, the reality is that LinkedIn is still widely perceived as an English-language only network. The truth is, marketing messages are likely to go much further and resonate more strongly if people can read them in their native language.
But what if presenting translated content through a global site wasn’t the only option? Anyone who works in an international environment knows that with different cultures comes different expectations, different needs and, most excitingly, different opportunities. What if, instead of simply translating the same content into another language, you could put your content on a platform specifically designed with a different culture in mind?
When you look beyond the English language, there is a treasure trove of localised social and business networks available, all tailor-made to serve the specific needs of their target markets. Almost all European countries had a local professional network five years ago; these days, with the larger companies gobbling up the smaller ones, there are just a few big players vying for business attention in their markets. The modern marketing director should be clued up on local networks to truly engage with local markets.
So which are the ones you need to know about…?
With over 65 million members worldwide, French-founded Viadeo has been around almost as long as LinkedIn. Its multi-local approach has won it popularity worldwide and remains the top PSN (Professional Social Network) in France. It also has a pervasive presence in China, where it has over 25 million members and is known as Tianji. It is well known for its popularity among small businesses, who can easily network on the more low-key service. Another benefit of the network is that, through acquiring many smaller local networks, the site has retained its localised feel.
Xing is a network primarily used in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and is particularly notable for its system for closed communities called ‘Enterprise Groups’ with their own access paths and interface designs. The platform serves as the infrastructure for corporate groups including IBM, McKinsey and Accenture. Basic functions are free, but by limiting search options to premium users Xing has seen a high percentage of customers buy into the premium service for the clear benefits it brings.
And another to watch out for…
While not strictly a PSN, Russian social network VKontakte is one of the few networks to have taken on Facebook as a competitor and survived the fight. If you’re looking to engage consumers or businesses in Eastern Europe or Russia, VKontakte is a good place to start. This Eastern audience is a force to be reckoned with: as of August 2014, VK averaged 34 million users per day, dwarfing Facebook’s 6.5 million for the same region. Like Facebook, page and group functions can be used to increase brand presence and it is extremely easy to upload promotional apps and videos to give your brand a tremendous reach.