Social networks, the hottest media
Social media have been the hottest marketing channel for more than a decade. There are several reasons for that such as: they’re not expensive, they allow human 1-to-1 interactions and they’re instantly measurable.
Although social media are all over the world, companies are still shy about using them to help their internationalization: according to Eurostat, in 2013 the EU-28’s business economy was made up of around 26 million active enterprises, with the largest active enterprise population in Italy (3.9 million), France (3.18 million) and Germany (2.97 million). When it comes to export, the differences are astonishing: Germany counts 360,000 exporting companies (12%), Italy 240,000 (6%), and France only 125,000 (4%)! Let’s now compare these numbers with Eurostat figures on social media use by enterprises: in France 67% of companies have a website and 28% use social media; in Italy 71% of companies have a website and 35% use social media; in Germany 87% of companies have a website and 33% use social media. German and Italian enterprises are using social media and exporting much more than French companies.
It is still hard to draw a direct correlation between social media and export, especially because of great differences in the structure of the economy between these three countries, but it is undeniable that social media do have a positive impact on international business.
So, if social media have such a positive impact on export, why aren’t companies more “active” when it comes to using social media for their internationalization? Looking at this more carefully, we think it is not just a question of time but instead the result of two common mistakes:
- Companies at first join as many social networks as possible without considering the resources needed to manage them or where customers are; they are soon overwhelmed and unable to manage them.
- Marketers think English is good for social media anywhere in the world because English is the most used Internet language: they are quickly disappointed by the poor audience they get, and they abandon the networks abroad.
Going global is going local
There were more than 3.4 billion Internet users and 2.3 billion active social media users in the world in January 2016. As these numbers grow, business exposure grows too, making the potential value of this trend huge for any business. The use of social media in multiple countries will consequently multiply that potential and help companies:
- Scale business faster
- Interact with larger and global audiences
- Increase brand awareness and build B2B/B2C brand abroad
- Strengthen relationships with foreign customers and influencers
- Generate sales in new markets
- Be different from and do better than competitors
So good and active use of social media can make a business popular, especially when they are used globally. However, social media are not global! Using social media globally means using them locally in many countries at the same time: it requires a good understanding of the specifics in each target market and of what can make a foreign business part of it.
The goal isn’t to be good at social media. It’s to be good at business because of social media, locally and globally!
This guide by ToWebOrNotToWeb provides additional advice and tips about how to use social media for international business http://bit.ly/1PhBNwz
(It’s been difficult to find precise figures on how many companies use social media internationally. If you have more insight, please share it. We’ll appreciate hearing from you.)