Marketing & Advertising

Search Optimization, Social Media and the Foreign Language Internet

With social networking, blogging, microblogging, social bookmarking and video sharing, people from all corners of the digital world are brought together under one virtual roof. Social media has landed; and it’s here to stay.

And the beauty of social media is it is largely free. So it’s not quite so much about budget than it is about how you implement your social media strategy. You can reach out to the global community with a company website, blog, and accounts at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And with YouTube, you can make your own videos and post them to a dedicated company YouTube account. All this with an up-front investment of, well, very little.

Social Media: Raise Revenue and Profile

Engaging with social media can raise your company’s profile and generate revenue. Dell has previously announced that it earned $3 million directly from its Twitter feeds, through offering special deals and promotions.

And social media influences your Google ranking too, with links to your website that stem from tweets, Likes, and Diggs all factored into Google’s increasingly complex ranking algorithm. It’s all part of the plan to make search results even more relevant. If lots of people are liking and linking to your online content, Google will more favorably view your website’s positioning.

The Rise of the Foreign Language Internet

But what about the foreign language Internet? How can you ensure your efforts in the social sphere cater for the growing non-English language online population?

By way of example, 42 percent of all web users live in Asia, and almost a 25 percent are based in Europe, while over a tenth are in Latin America. Put another way, most Internet users live outside of the U.S.

Twitter use in Latin America rose three-fold in the year up to June 2010, and in Asia Pacific its use doubled. Similar trends were seen across the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The world is catching on to Twitter and businesses should look to tap into the power of Twitter and the wider social media spectrum. And some businesses are already doing this. For example, Sony has twenty foreign-language Twitter feeds, whilst Microsoft and Cisco offer Twitter feeds in more than ten languages. And don’t be put-off by the fact these are big companies with big budgets, you can implement very cost-effective international social media strategies. But naturally, a little investment will be required.

Website and Social Media Localization

I’ve discussed the issue of website localization at “4 Tips For Language Translation, Optimization.” And to maximize your international social media efficacy, it should be used in conjunction with your other global online efforts. A customer is more likely to engage with you on Twitter in Spanish if they’re directed there from your localized Spanish-language website. The two go hand-in-hand and there’s no getting around that fact. Your English-language social media strategy can easily be transferred into any language you choose. But, how is this done? Here are two ideas.

  1. College students. Just look at all the colleges and universities across the country. Just about every language you can think about will be represented by both international students and second-generation American students. You’d be surprised to find out how many are willing to put their language skills into use in a part-time social media management role.
  2. Google Translate. You could try going down the Google translate route, but it will help your efforts immeasurably if you converse with consumers using proper, localized social-media speak. This includes jargon, contractions and colloquialisms.

You need to make your social media is accessible as possible to consumers, which means you have to speak to them in their own language. And you then have to incentivize them to engage with you via social media. They have to value their experiences of following your tweets or “liking” your Facebook page. This could mean simply offering valuable insights or industry updates, or special offers and promotions for visiting your website.

Which Are Popular Globally?

Your foreign language social media strategy should take into account the most popular platforms in your target market, too. For example, Orkut is number one in Brazil and while it is big in India, too, it has recently been overtaken there by Facebook. And in Russia, is the number one platform. It’s a site very similar to Facebook in look and feel, but, alas, it’s not Facebook.


The benefits of adopting a global social media strategy are two fold. Not only do you open the markets to many more millions of customers, but, if executed well, then your search engine optimizations efforts should improve, too.


Christian Arno
Christian Arno
Bio   •   RSS Feed