From YouTube ads to promoted hashtags on Twitter, global social media seems to be the rave scene for international businesses. And why not? If marketing means going where the people are, then it makes sense to be hanging out on social media.

But what company leaders may not understand is that launching a global social media strategy takes more than just translating tweets into a couple of languages…

Multiple channels, multiple options

Social media site users around the world all have different preferences when it comes to platforms. From Pinterest to Facebook, there are hundreds of social platforms that vary in popularity across the globe. Even within close geographical locations, the interest in global social media platforms can change simply by crossing a border. Just look at the Chinese social enthusiasts who tend to spend most of their time on government-approved Renren, while their neighbors over in Japan and Taiwan (who have more freedom of choice) prefer to share content on Twitter and Wretch. Before you give yourself a headache by signing up for umpteen different social media platforms, it’s worth researching which social media channels are most used by your target audience and go from there.

 Global social media trends

Pick up the daily newspaper in both Hong Kong and London, and you’re likely to be looking at two different headlines. This same location-based diversity applies to the latest trends and interest on global social media platforms. Take for instance Twitter, which had the U.S. buzzing most about Justin Bieber in 2011, while Japan’s most discussed topic was earthquakes. While this is quite a disparity, it speaks volumes about the differences in conversation across cultures and regions. To make your global social media strategy a lot more personal and appealing, businesses shouldn’t look past the importance of relating and localizing to an in-country audience.

Likewise, people in different countries are likely to express themselves uniquely and share different kinds of content. Studies have shown that social networking may be popular in one country, while higher instances of video- or photo-sharing may be the norm in another. Blog writing, for example, is 13 times more popular in South Korea than it is in India. So when building out your global social media strategy, first understand what type of content is relevant to your clients and which topics will resonate most with prospects.

Real-time needs

There’s one thing that’s certain about global social media – it’s breaking barriers in real-time conversation. People are expecting and sharing the latest content now, not later. They’re no longer waiting around for tomorrow’s newspaper or even tonight’s newscast to get their information. For a business looking to expand their global social media strategy, this means having the communication lines open all day, every day. Regardless of whether it’s to discuss promotions, opportunities or the embarrassing corporate slip up your organization had last week. Conversations about your company can no longer be ignored – they need to be embraced.

Multilingual social media

While keeping up-to-date on the latest trends, interests and channels for your global markets will undoubtedly promise a much smoother introduction on international social media platforms, you also need to consider your messages’ quality. The real-time of social media means faster turnaround requirements for translated content (potentially in a lot of languages), yet your messages need to resonate with your audience. Assigning in-country managers for your social media is essential. Not only are they more likely to notice cultural insensitivities or nuisances in socially shared text and images, they’ll ensure your language is up to par. But if staffing your own in-country managers is an issue, Sajan can provide translation services for your international social media.

While adopting social platforms to reach your global audience is the latest maneuver by global marketers, know that it’s going to take more than signing up for the latest international social media platform to impress those who matter.

For more translation and localization advice, check out my blog at www.sajan.com/blog.