In today’s interconnected global economy, brands are always eager to expand to other markets. It’s now being made easier thanks to the latest developments in technology, social media, e-commerce, online marketing platforms/software, and etc. Since we’re talking about global expansion, translation and localization is part of the picture. But that’s where bumpy road starts. Almost every one of them has the same idea.
Taking this into account, successful brands are the ones that aren’t afraid to adjust to the latest trends and latest developments. We’ll talk about how brands utilize a new but highly effective marketing strategy they use to augment their localization success. This article will discuss how influencer marketing can be useful in a localization strategy and how local influencers are tapped as local assets for global brands.
What is Localization Exactly?
As a refresher, localization is the process of curating content until it is optimized for the target market or audience. Even from the definition alone, it’s pretty obvious how localization has been instrumental to many global brand’s success. Localization isn’t exactly an antithesis of globalization but you can see it as one of the vehicles of globalization. In simpler terms, localization is about going global by going local.
It wasn’t too long ago that many industries thought that translation alone was enough to break open other markets. But soon as localization came to be, they realized that they found more success in global markets by pairing localization with translation. Translation alone is not a guarantee that any product or content will resonate well with their target market/audience.
How Do Global Brands Execute Their Localization Strategies?
On the surface level, localization can simply be done by following the native language, local currencies, units of measurement, and etc. But this is where a lot of people stop in their localization process. In reality, quality and effective localization goes beyond that by adhering to linguistic nuances, following cultural and social tastes, paying attention to aesthetic preferences (colors and layout), and etc.
This level of localization is necessary for any marketing strategy in global markets. With this in mind, they rely on localization services from localization companies. Even with the vast resources that many global brands have, it’s better for them to rely on specialized vendors such as localization companies and their network of localization professionals. It’s pretty much the most logical choice to rely on outside help especially when it’s out of their area (pun intended) of expertise.
It’s the same situation when they need professional translators for their translation projects. Rather than having an in-house translators full-time, it’s common to work with a translation company. When we’re talking about voluminous translation projects, it makes more sense to contract professional translation services.
All in all, it really pays to have someone on board with insider information that goes beyond the surface level. But for the purpose of this article, having someone with grassroot influence is a unique way to take your localization strategy to a whole new level. This is where influencer marketing comes into the picture of your localization strategy.
Why Influencer Marketing Should Be A Part of Your Localization Strategy
What is influencer marketing first of all? It’s a marketing strategy similar to celebrity sponsorships but influencers take the center stage. The advent of social media and the ease of making online quality content by yourself gave rise to influencer marketing. Now before you immediately shoot down influencers as narcissistic attention-seeking freeloaders, just hear us out.
In just less than a decade, influencers evolved from casual bloggers/vloggers to bonafide key opinion leaders (KOL) with the ability to sway almost an entire targeted market by a push of a button. Keep in mind that we’re talking about the top 1% influencers .
They’re seen as trusted sources of professional information from their followers and even global brands. So in short, influencer marketing has now become an actual valuable marketing strategy with proven results. Nowadays, big brands welcome the right influencers with open arms.
So when traditional brands, particularly luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton are eager to let influencers be a part of their marketing strategy, you know that there’s something in influencer marketing that’s doing things right.
Over the years, localization has taken many forms and its correlated to trends in technology that change ways on how we market and do business. When that’s the case, why shouldn’t influencer marketing be a part of your localization strategy? As to how exactly, it’s about working with local influencers.
Getting In Touch With The Right Local Influencers
Influencers are effective because of their special dynamic with their followers. Their followers feel a more personal connection with them as if they are just like any next-door-neighbor. That’s why their followers tend to take their advice and opinions more seriously and to the heart.
That’s not to say celebrity sponsorships are ineffective. They still have their place and in many cases, celebrity-run marketing campaigns bring proven results for their brands. But for small and medium businesses out there, sponsoring celebrities just isn’t a viable option. This is where influencers come in very handy.
If you’re wondering how to find influencers easily, brands use influencer marketing platforms that use algorithms to match them with the right influencer. But it’s safe to say that like all marketing strategies, influencer marketing is of course not 100% effective each and every time. Certainly not every influencer claiming to be one has commercial influence. Even influencers with millions of followers struggle to possess any commercial value.
In fact, many brands have even found much more success with influencers with smaller followings! These are called micro-influencers or local influencers. Their small following means they can routinely connect with them at a deeper and meaningful level. These influencers work hard to stay up to date with the latest information of their niche so that their followers can continue to count on them for professional advice and opinions.
With this in mind, having local influencers as part of your brand is a great way of adding local flavor to your marketing strategy and of course, your localization strategy. Getting access to their local following is a great way to lead organic traffic to your brand’s social media accounts and websites.
Just remember to make sure you find the right local influencer, specifically one with an image that fits your brand’s niche. For example, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are ideal for beauty and fashion brands. But they’re not in any way the right marketing assets for tech companies.
You’re pretty much spoilt for choice whether you’re looking for food influencers, travel influencers, fashion influencers, lifestyle influencers, beauty influencers, etc. Another thing to take note is finding the right local influencer for the right platform. Many of them prefer to specialize in one or two platforms i.e. instagram influencers, facebook influencers, youtubers, etc.
Are Influencers Localization Experts Themselves?
There are countless influencers out there in the world. Are each and one of them industry experts? Of course not. Each and every one of them have their own reasons for becoming an influencer. Some blog/vlog as a hobby and some do it with insane professionalism. That being said, there is no regulation to the influencer ‘industry’. Anyone can literally claim to be an influencer and claim that their huge following is what qualifies them so.
But in influencer marketing, having a large following doesn’t immediately mean that you have commercial influence. But if you’re looking for a good example of influencer with enormous commercial value, look no further than Tao Liang a.k.a. Mr. Bags.
Mr. Bags is a Chinese luxury brand influencer with a following numbering in the millions. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, etc. extensively collaborate with Mr. Bags and seek his insights on how they can successfully reach out to Chinese luxury consumers.
What makes Mr. Bags unique among many influencers around the world is his genuinity and knowledge.
He started out writing articles for Chinese luxury consumers and providing them with genuine consumer advice and quality insights on specific bags. He quickly racked up a following number in the millions and the rest is history. Mr. Bags goes to show that influencer marketing is indeed effective as they can serve as localization professionals.
Of course, it’s unfair to expect your influencers to be within the same league as Mr. Bags. But since they’re part of the local populace, they have the upper hand in terms of being familiar with the local pulse. That’s not to say that they can completely replace localization professionals. For most influencers, knowing a beat of the local pulse is part of their job but not in the same league as actual localization professionals.
Also, try to not even expect them to handle your translation jobs even if they’re native speakers. But they can still assist by acting as a third opinion and provide linguistic validation over your translations. In short, influencers have valuable uses so it’s worth maximizing what knowledge they have to offer and how they can assist your brand in any way they can.
It’s worth pointing out that China has a vibrant social media culture which makes influencer marketing particularly effective there. That being said, influencer marketing might not work for every target market out there. There are some countries where influencer marketing will do wonders and some that won’t due to their different social media culture.
Even for those countries with strong social media usage, they will have specific nuances in their social media culture. From what you’ve learned, you can then adjust your influencer marketing strategy accordingly. This all ties in with the parent notion of localization. For each market, successful brands adjust to minute differences and apply it to their translations, product optimizations, and all of their marketing strategies.