A recent Made in Britain event on Twitter (it’s called Made in Britain hour and you can learn about it following them @MadeinBritainGB) prompted me to write a short blog post on ways in which you can improve your social media to make it more export-friendly. Clearly, my expertise is in Latin America, but I’m sure many of these simple tips apply to any export markets. So, without further ado:
1- Think about it.
I understand you might not have the budget, or the inclination, or the rationale, for having a separate social media account for each export market. I hardly recommend it to the SMEs I work with. But if exports are important to you, your social media should reflect it in some way. So the first step is to sit down with your team and assess whether your social media efforts are really reflecting your sales breakdown in terms of markets and your strategic goals. Think about it as a year-long project to start with.
It’s a good idea to ask your local partners, clients and/or distributors how they use social media, if at all. From experience, the variation can be enormous. I know companies here in Latin America that totally ignore social media, and others that are fully dependent on it. Some are very strong on Twitter, some on Instagram, some on Facebook. Just ask. And check your stats, too.
3- Overcome the language barrier with pictures and videos.
It’s often prohibitive for an exporting SME to generate content in a foreign language (such as Spanish or Portuguese for Latin America) and if you do, it’s got to be correct or it could backfire. At least in the early days, I recommend sticking to English but using lots of pictures and videos (even better if subtitled) so that foreign speakers can benefit from your content without needing full English language proficiency. Diagrams, sketches and even doodles can help, too, particularly if your products are very technical.
4- Share your social media content.
Don’t assume your local partners will have seen your postings. Remember to WhatsApp or email them the links you think are more relevant to them (and explain why making this connection very explicit). That also helps to stay in touch with them and remain a priority.
5- Involve everyone.
From a Latin American perspective, it’s a bit dull when all your postings are about, say, the UK or Europe. Make sure that from time to time their markets also get a mention. Or at least make sure that the postings you generate about Denmark, Singapore or Morocco are also relevant to them (hence my point above about sharing the posts via email or WhatsApp).
6- Don’t expect too much.
We work mainly in B2B with very technical products. Social media is hardly ever the strength of these clients and distributors. For many (most, I’d say), business is still conducted the old-fashioned way and social media is not part of their strategy. That’s why my second point is important and adjusting your expectations will avoid many frustrations!
7- Support your local partner with their social media activity.
If your local partner is indeed keen to develop social media to benefit your brand, then make sure you support them with images, videos, testimonials, case studies, customer reviews, translations and also with your experience of what works and what doesn’t. Discuss what protocols should be in place so that you remain in control of your brand (an approval process, for example). Have clear (but not too many) guidelines. But also remember that you’ll need to give them some flexibility to adapt to the local market. Remember to praise them on this extra effort and help amplify them.
How are you adjusting your social media efforts to your export markets? What challenges do you face when thinking internationally? Feel free to leave your comments below or join the conversation on, well, social media! (Twitter and LinkedIn).