Reframing the Challenge of Culture for Strat. Comm., PR, & Internet Marketing - pt. 3
Ryan Buddenhagen, March 7, 2012
As the first two posts in this series clearly point out, expanding into new markets carries challenges but also opportunities to adapt quickly and excel. The implications for internet marketing for companies in new countries are very important and that’s where we now turn our attention.
A company's website and its related web platforms are directly impacted and deserve attention. These properties stand as the online portals for a business' publics, and specifically customers, to experience the brand and what it stands for. As such, businesses and the international SEO experts that work with them need to understand popular web design, layouts, web features, and desired levels of interactivity in the local context and design accordingly. Local trends and tendencies need to be weighed against the design elements that the company feels matches their own identity and that which they would like to portray online. With careful consideration, an arrangement of local features that also support the company identity can usually be established.
These experts should also offer country and language-specific websites keeping in mind that some languages are spoken across countries and that regional dialects can have large numbers of speakers. Many large corporations do this, and looking to their sites for direction can be helpful. Nike, for example, offers an initial selection based on language. Such considerations send the positive message to those in the local context that the company considers them to be important and ultimately benefits the end-user experience.
Similarly, social media is paramount in marketing a website, however, all social media is not used to the same degree in each country around the world. For example, Facebook is banned in China and local platforms like microblogging site Sina Weibo are popular and widely used. Further, research shows that over two-thirds of online adults in India and metropolitan regions of China create content on the social media sites they engage in, much more than their US and European counterparts. Thus, partnered international SEO experts need to be in tune with what the most relevant platforms are for each context, and implement social campaigns accordingly.
For example, global brands can engage consumers to a greater degree on social platforms in China and India on such sites as Sina Weibo, proactively encouraging users to create and share content. They can do this through promotions that give people motivation to supply content, but also by creating compelling content themselves that genuinely spur uses to act supplying ideas through comments, posts, and any other form of sharing or engagement. The latter is a more sustainable approach as it organically encourages activity and has a much greater lasting impact on the users in terms of brand awareness and fellowship. International SEO experts need to be optimizing a company's social platforms in addition to their other web properties through a multi-faceted inter-connected campaign for SEO gain. In the end, the extent to which a company embraces the challenge of cultural difference and uses it to go above and beyond in their new context is an indicator of the company's success there.