Social media campaigns are on everybody's lips nowadays, but the vast majority of them are still aimed at the U.S. and Europe, leaving out huge, booming markets such as Asia.
This happens because of the general assumption that other markets, no matter how big they are, are not Internet-literate enough to appreciate these web 2.0 advertising campaigns.
According to recent surveys, (first of all a world social media study conducted by Forrester Research), nothing could be more untrue. In reality, while users from the U.S. and Europe have developed a more passive approach to social media, their Asian counterparts are the most active around. As a matter of fact, 76 percent of American users and 69 percent of European ones are classified as "spectators," which means passive users who read other posts but don't post theirs. While the so-called "creators" (the active ones) are just about a quarter of the users.
If we compare the data with those coming from the two Asian giants, that is China and India, we discover that 76 percent of Chinese users and a stunning 80 percent of Indian users are "creators" of social media. The only other country in the Asian region showing figures as low as the Western markets is Japan, with an overwhelming majority of "spectators."
In terms of penetration, the Philippines can boast the highest in Asia with more than 90 percent of its Internet users visiting a social networking site every month. Following close behind, we find Australia with a penetration of 89 percent and Indonesia, 88 percent (infographic from Burson-Marsteller).
Importance of Online Advertising and Consumers' Feedback in Asia
There are two other peculiarities in the Asian market. Firstly, it is the great consideration Internet users in the Southeast have for consumers' feedback and opinions, the so-called "user generated media." UGM is currently one of the most valued media to make a purchase decision in Asia, according to Nielsen.
Secondly, over 70 percent of Southeast Asia's Internet users said they are very influenced by website advertisements on social media. In fact, seven Southeast Asian consumers out of 10 have "liked" or followed a brand on a social media, much more than the global average of 52 percent.
Choose the Right, Local Social Network
In order to build an effective social media campaign in a foreign country it is advisable, not only to use the international top players, but also the local platforms, which are the ones that can help you to know better the peculiarities of that region. After all, there isn't only Facebook out there.
If this is true for the European market, which sees many national competitors, it's even more true when it comes to Asia. It is not by chance that the second most popular social network in the world is the Chinese QQ with over 300 million unique monthly visitors. The first is, of course, Facebook with an unbelievable estimated 750 million unique users. As far as China is concerned, the other social network giant is RenRen with 130 million users.
If we move to India, after Facebook and LinkedIn, we find Orkut with its 17 million users. Other top platforms in the Asian market are: Friendster, with over 100 million users and a great diffusion in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore; Hi5 with over 50 million users and a strong position in the Philippines, India and Mongolia; Cyworld with over 16 million users and a leader position in South Korea; Mixi, 14 million users, the most popular in Japan, Wretch (9 million) N.1in Taiwan and Zing in Vietnam.
Localize Your Social Media Campaign in Asia
Choosing the appropriate, local social network is only the first step. The next one involves a serious market research in order to perform an effective localization of your social media campaign in the Asian market. The main reason to embark on market research (which is not always easy and quick), is to know who your competitors are. You might find out that the Asian country you have decided to target has many more, well established local competitors than you could have expected: so why not switch to another market?
The other, very important consideration that has to be made before launching a social media campaign in a foreign country (especially where the culture is significantly different) is that what works in one country will not necessarily work in another. Different languages mean different cultures and any good localized social media campaign has to be adapted to the culture of the country and not the other way around.
Translate Your Content
Once you have chosen the countries where you want to launch your social media campaign, the next important decision is: which language/s you want to have your content in, besides English. For a start, it's definitely not recommended to use more than two extra languages, which are already a considerable effort.
Then, it's essential to define your "language policy." That is: do you want to have all of your content translated into the other language/s, or just some parts of it?
A wise way to start off could be to translate only your main pages into the other language/s and wait and see what kind of feedback you receive. Otherwise, you could decide every time what content is worth translating and what is not.
In any case, don't forget the golden rule of any Internet content localization: always keep text separate from pictures and graphics. It's very uncommon that different languages have the same paragraph lengths.
Now, are you ready to launch your Asian social media campaign?
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Christian Arno is the founder of translation services provider Lingo24, Inc. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 200 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT