More than 2 billion people globally are present on at least one social network (nearly 10% in Europe). Given the huge potential of this communication channel, having a social media strategy is vital for increasing the visibility and reach of your website.
Here are 10 fundamental techniques to improve the impact of social media as part of your online marketing efforts in Europe – a region that is dense, developed and multilingual!
1. Encourage sharing
Social media optimisation = Sharing. Social media sites are like satellites orbiting your website; they enable you to develop your online reputation and increase the visibility of your site, and brand. Sharing is the way you will will first get, and then keep the attention and loyalty of online users.
By sharing your content, and the content of others, you increase the likelihood that other websites and users will return the favour and share your content, increasing its reach. Just like you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, you cannot use social networks effectively without sharing content.
By offering your audience the opportunity to vote, react, like or comment on your posts from the various local social networks, you can reap the benefits of viral marketing.
2. Provide quality content
For a successful campaign on social networks, it is essential that your social channels relate to the audience they are aimed at. Avoid the mistakes made by many organisations which use the same content, tone and message across all channels and countries.
To ensure your social media activities will succeed, you should adapt your content to the local culture and interests of each target audience. If you provide rich, relevant content, which addresses the needs of your audience, converting visitors into loyal fans becomes a much easier task. The most effective way to ensure you are covering the topics most relevant to your audience and not wasting your social potential is to enlist the help of a native specialist, who will have insight into language and culture that a non-native will not.
3. Create an account by language
For ease of management, you may be tempted to use a single account for each type of social networks and just replicate your message in multiple languages. This strategy is likely to doom your social media campaign to failure.
By choosing to create specific accounts for each language that you target, your communications will be more effective. It will be easier to generate conversations and for users to engage with your site. This strategy will also facilitate the creation of back links to the equivalent language version of your website, adding SEO value.
4. Ensure your translations are accurate
Unless you want to lose face and see your social media site appearing on a list of the best (or worst) mistranslations, it is vital that any translated content you share on social sites is high quality. Remember that on social networks, everything is shared at the speed of light, especially the bloopers!
So avoid turning to automatic translation tools available to produce your content. Content should be created by native speakers, whose understanding the issues of the respective markets puts them in the best position to find the most competitive keywords, use data from the competition and provide local context, to offer your followers the best and most relevant experience in their language.
This is no easy task when targeting Europe: the European Union alone has 24 official languages and there are more than 200 across the continent.
5. Improve interaction
It is quality not quantity that matters in social media. It is not the number of followers is important, but how they interact and collaborate. Therefore, post content that will spark discussions and encourage those followers to interact and engage. Again, using the right words in the language of your target audience will make them feel more involved and motivated to share your content.
6. Choose the right social platforms
When we talk about social networks, Facebook and Twitter naturally spring to mind. Yet these are not the only platforms to consider if you are rolling out a social media campaign across Europe. There are indeed thousands of social networks, some of which deserve some special attention.
Such is the case of VK in Russian, Ukraine and Belarus. The site was inspired by Facebook, and has many similarities, although is more open than Facebook in allowing sharing of illegal or pirated content.
In France, LinkedIn has become a hit with professionals – at the expense of Viadéo, its (French) competitor. Xing, meanwhile, remains the most popular professional network in Germany and in German-speaking regions.
And do not forget Tuenti, Spain’s local social network that has tighter privacy controls than Facebook, in accordance with the European legislation in force related to data protection. This network is still very popular among Spanish web users.
7. Optimise your content
Make the most of your social content by optimising it for each language, with relevant keywords for that market. For example, if you are publishing a video, make sure that its content is transcribed or subtitled in each target language, incorporating popular keywords. As always, pay attention to the quality of your translations to ensure you do not waste potential opportunities due to poor translation.
If you want to share information, also optimise the titles, descriptions, tags and links. When you create content, consider including the use of tags “Rel = author” & “Rel = me” in your tags to allow your readers to follow you and improve your rankings in Google.
8. Use available online intelligence
Social media should be part of your overall international online strategy. Therefore, just as with other online activities, you need to keep up to date with any trends or hot topics popular with your target audience, and use relevant keywords to these topics. Google Keyword Research, Google Trends or Google Insights are all useful tools that can give you insights into the current interests of users in your target country. Also, do not hesitate to piggy back on your customers’ conversations on social networks and evaluate campaigns of your competitors. This will help you understand the expectations and interests of your readers and adjust the tone and content of your campaign accordingly.
9. Publish regularly
On social networks, generating quality content is one thing, publishing is another and you need to choose the most effective times to communicate. There is so much information and content on social platforms that your message may easily get lost if you choose to publish at a time of day or week where your target is not engaging on the social platforms! And regular publication is key, to ensure you are constantly providing new and relevant information.
10. Follow up your SMO strategy
As with any online activity, you need to constantly monitor your performance and the periodic adjustment of your strategy to respond to changes in each market. The European online community is constantly evolving and you need to understand how this happening in each country you target, and adapt your strategy to suit.
There is no doubt that running a pan-European social media campaign requires a lot of effort- but get it right and you will reap the rewards!