There’s an old and classic song – “It’s a Small World.” And never has that been truer than today. We can thank technology. In this new small digital world, companies and customers can do business across all borders and in all languages, opening up wide new markets for business growth.
And, while worldwide e-commerce was initially a pretty complex and expensive operation, it has now become easy, given continuing advances in technology. Here are a few current stats:
- 70% of European consumers now buy products from businesses in other countries
- Estimates are that global e-commerce sales will reach $4.479 trillion by 2021, with Asia currently leading the pack in sales.
- 96% of global shoppers have used such platforms as Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba and eBay, and many e-commerce companies are selling via these platforms – it’s just easier and does not require an upfront investment.
Another inexpensive marketing strategy, and one that is growing exponentially, is the use of social media to attract potential customers. There are global platforms, especially Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as lots of social media channels that are local to various countries and regions. These allow easy access to international consumers. And it’s only a matter of doing the research to find out which are the most popular where.
There are also plenty of content tools that will recommend the type of content that will engage a specific international audience. (e.g., “Answer the Public”).
And there is that key trend in marketing that cannot be ignored – the use of influencers.
The Role of Influencers in Social Media Marketing
In our own home countries, we have national celebrities – actors, actresses, sports figures, etc. We often see them on commercials and other marketing venues, recommending products that span from health and beauty to clothing and breakfast cereals. They are paid by large enterprises who can afford them, and they are what we call “macro-influencers.”
Small to mid-sized companies do not have budgets to enlist such celebrities in their marketing. But there are a host of “micro-influencers” with good-sized followings, who can be enlisted for a lot less.
When consumers make decisions to purchase something new, they usually seek some kind of proof that it will meet their expectations for quality. And that proof can come from social media micro-influencers whom they trust.
What’s more, influencer marketing has certainly been on the rise in recent years. There is power in finding the right people to recommend a product to their audiences when those audiences are a “match” for what a company is selling.
How Can Influencer Marketing Be Used in Foreign Markets?
Obviously, the influencers that you may use in your home country will have no social importance to consumers in foreign markets, especially the micro-influencers that you are using to spread your brand.
You may have the best English to Russian translator from one of the services at PickWriters to localize your website and your social media presence but that translator will not find local influencers who can provide the social proof that Russian consumers may want. That task is up to you.
You have to consider each entry into a foreign market as a startup. And it will be important to find people who can help build credibility for your brand – local influencers who can help establish and grow your brand.
Finding Those Local Influencers
And find them you must. You actually have a few options here:
- You can access social media platforms that are popular in those countries. You can then research companies that are in your business niche and identify micro-influencers that they are using. And then, you can use your translator to communicate with them, develop relationships for you, and, in time, you may get them to provide a positive review of your product/service or even to recommend your brand to their followers if the incentives you provide are valuable enough. This is a slow arduous process indeed.
- There are actually tools you can use to find influencers in your niche in foreign markets – Ifluenz is just one you can start with. Once identified, you will obviously need to make contact, develop a relationship, determine what incentives will be welcomed. Again, this can be a bit time-consuming but can reap great benefits.
- You can locate a social media specialist in the target country/region and contract with him/her to do lots of the “legwork” for you, in terms of identifying potential influencers. And such an individual can handle negotiations between you and those influencers. This will be more costly upfront, but it can be well worth it if effective influencers are identified and deals are struck relatively quickly.
How to Use Influencers in Foreign Markets
In short, you use them in the same way you do in your home country.
- You can supply a product and pay for a review. This is the best approach for companies selling consumer products. Remember, these influencers know their audiences, and they should be given some freedom in the content they craft. Of course, it should be translated for your approval, but seasoned influencers know what they are doing. Trust them.
- Make certain that the relationship is mutually beneficial. You are paying for a review/recommendation/shout out. An influencer may love your product or service, but s/he is also in this business to make money. Just offering free products will not suffice. You need to be ready to pay what the market will demand an influencer of the status and following you see.
- Follow the advice of your native consultant, if you have one. S/he is the person “on the ground” with experience and the market research under his belt.
- Arrange for the analytics. You want to know what response you are getting from each influencer you use. How much interest and how many purchases are you getting from each one? You may need to terminate one – make sure you have a written agreement that allows for this.
Influencer marketing is hot. And it is a global, not just a local phenomenon. If you move into foreign markets, then finding the right social media platforms and influencers is not an option. You need to spread your brand awareness, and this is the best method to do just that.
Donald Fomby is a communications professional with more than five years of experience. Donald runs his own blog BestWritersOnline and is proud of an uncanny ability to explain the most complex subject in simple terms.