Social Media Accounts Localization of Forbes Global 2000 Companies

by Julia Litvin

We are continuing the series of reports about our full digital audit of the first 1000 company websites from the Forbes Global 2000 list, in case you missed our introduction part you can catch it up easily.


Analytics show that more and more people use social media. There are 2,8 billion active social media users worldwide as of January 2017 with 37% global penetration. The increase in numbers from the last year is huge: 22%. As a lot of companies go global the need to leverage international social media reach increases rapidly.

So let's review how the world's biggest companies by Forbes magazine are doing their social media localization.

While conducting this research we looked for links to social media accounts only on the websites. This means that we reviewed company’s global/international website and each localized (country-specific) website of this company. We didn’t look for social accounts on social media itself as there are many fake or similar accounts that can mislead a user. If the company provides a link to its social media on its website, there is no doubt it’s an official one.

Our expert team reviewed first 1000 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list. Only 420 from 1000 companies offer a country selection to their visitors/customers. Their social media were used for this report.

A common place to have links to social media is the main page, then the Contact page, and then the Press/Media/Blog page. When they are on the main page, social media links are easy to spot and visitors are more likely to open them.

A nice way to place links to social media accounts for those companies that have a global/international page is to put them in one list. Here are great examples from McDonalds and Invesco.

invesco.com

SM-Invesco.png

corporate.mcdonalds.com

SM-McDonalds.png

It is important to know when localizing social media that some countries favor social networks other than Facebook and Twitter. For instance, in China the popular social media networks are Weibo and WeChat. In CIS countries it is VK and OK. When reviewing localized versions of the companies’ websites we looked for these 4 social media on the relevant countries’ pages for China, Russia, and Ukraine.

289 companies out of 420, which have country-specific websites, have all or one of this countries in their country selector. Only 32,9% of them have social media accounts in local networks.

We reviewed all 420 companies and came up with the following stats:

  • Common social media account - 28,6%
  • Localized social media account - 21,7%
  • Mostly localized social media account - 15%
  • Somewhat localized social media account - 26%
  • No links to social media accounts at all - 7,4%
socil-media-level-of-localization.png

Where 'Common Social Media Account' means all localized websites have common social media accounts; 

'Localized Social Media Account’ - 70-100% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts for each country;

'Mostly Localized Social Media Account’ - 40-70% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts; 

'Somewhat Localized Social Media Account’ - 0-40% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts, and the majority has common social media accounts.

An example of the great social media localization is Starbucks. Each localized website version has a link or links to social media accounts that belong to the particular country. The icons can be found at the bottom of the page.

For example:

starbucks.com

Starbucks-sm-us.png

starbucks.de

Starbucks-sm-de.png

There are also accounts in local social networks:

starbucks.com.cn

Starbucks-sm-cn.png

The Starbucks company has 47 localized websites and localized accounts for almost each of them.

There are social media accounts in local language for the following countries:

Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, The United Kingdom, and USA.

There are social media accounts in local language along with English for the following countries, regions:

Cambodia, Hong Kong, Middle East, Vietnam.

There are links to the main social media accounts (American) for the following countries:

Bulgaria, Malaysia, Romania.

There are social media accounts only in English (which is not the local language) for the following countries:

Brunei, India, Indonesia, Philippines.

There are social media accounts in the official but not the state language for the following country:

Kazakhstan (in Russian).

There are social media accounts only on local social media networks (Weibo and WeChat) for the following country:

China.

These countries have Facebook accounts, but don’t have Twitter:

Austria, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Middle East Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.

For some reason, there are no links to social media on Australian and Azerbaijani websites, but they can be found on Twitter and Facebook itself, though only Australian accounts marked official.

...

The world’s biggest public companies get a lot of traffic to their websites, and this traffic comes from different countries. Usually, the most traffic comes from the native country, but sometimes it can be another, geographically close country, or a country the company works the most with.

It is very important to have localized website versions for countries that bring the most traffic. But it is just as important to have localized social media for these countries.

We reviewed top 20 companies (by monthly visits) and their social media localization for top 5 countries they get their traffic from and here is what we’ve found:

  • In 25% of the cases the most traffic comes from another country than native;
  • In 15% of the cases there is no native country in the top 5 countries;
  • 15% of the companies don’t have localized websites for all 5 countries, but have for 2 or 3;
  • 10% of the companies don’t have links to social media on their websites;
  • 40% have Twitter and Facebook together, or just Twitter, or just Facebook, or a local network accounts for all 5 countries;
  • 30% of the companies actually have localized accounts but for some reason don’t link to them;
  • 15% of the companies link to common accounts on their localized websites.

Social media is a great way to reach your global customers. It is not enough to have an account and post just in one language, you must target potential clients in their own language, considering cultural differences as well.

Local social media users have their own behaviours online which should be taken into consideration. Internal audits have repeatedly shown higher conversion rates and more money spent on products when customers and potential clients are targeted in their own language.

Building a localized social media presence is a powerful way to expand globally, increase awareness about your brand, get traffic to a website, and increase revenue.


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