By Greig Holbrook, Oban Multilingual: International SEO

Social networking sites have not only revolutionised the way we interact, but also the way that we view marketing. Whether you love them or hate them, it’s undeniable that they can do a great deal to raise the profile of a business.

Aside from the obvious cost-effectiveness of using social networking sites (SNS) as a marketing tool, they also allow businesses to engage with their customer and vice versa. When social networking comes into the mix, brands can listen to what customers are saying and interact with them, bringing the customer and brand closer together. It seems like everybody is ‘Tweeting’ or setting up a ‘Fan Page’, and social networking sites are quickly becoming the marketing tool of choice.

But what does this mean for businesses who want to market internationally?

Although the leading contenders in the UK are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, there are parts of the world where ‘Tweeting’ is unheard of, and where Facebook isn’t the ubiquitous phenomenon it’s become in the UK and USA. So, it is important to consider social media tools outside of the Facebook/Twitter/Youtube box.

‘Like’ Localisation

To target international markets digitally, businesses need to take a localised approach to their strategies, looking at the ways in which different markets use the internet. Cultural, linguistic, and religious factors can all come into play, and can create significant differences in how countries function online. And social networking is no exception. It is true that Facebook is the ‘global’ SNS, with millions of users worldwide. However, the majority of these users are in Western Europe and North America. In many parts of the world where opportunities for ecommerce are ideal or that are showing signs of extremely promising growth, it is indigenous social networking sites which are proving to be more popular.

Here are some examples based on Oban Multilingual’s recent research:

• China is expected to reach 200Million users in social networking interaction by summer this year. “To twitter “ means to knit yourself a scarf in Chinese — So, they don’t use it. Instead they use alternatives such as Sina, Sohu and QQ”.

• Russia has the highest social media engagement in the world (in terms of times spent on sites) and Facebook has only a 5% share… more users interact with vkontakte; odnoklassniki; mail.ru; livejournal.com

For further information on global social media scoping and research results feel free to get in touch with Oban Multilingual or visit www.obanmultilingual.com

Learn more about social media sites at HIT ME! Optimise Your Search on the 15th of February 2011 at Microsoft’s London Head Quarters. Tickets still available — Buy yours today and save £100!

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