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Digital Marketing in the Emoji Age – Three Keys for Reaching a Global Audience

By Adam DePollo
Brand Manager
Bromberg & Associates Language Service Company

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

It’s 2017, and globalization isn’t something that’s just over the horizon anymore. It’s here, we’re living it, and especially with the explosion of social media usage in the last 10 years, everyone with an internet connection is now a global citizen.

But if that situation applies to individual people, it absolutely applies to businesses, too. If your company has an active web and social media presence – and how could it not, these days – you’re not just interacting with potential clients in your city, state, or even your own country, but with potential clients located anywhere in the world.

Now, from a digital marketing standpoint, that fact means that if you want to really capitalize on the global reach you already have, you need to keep a few things in mind as you curate your company’s web presence.

1. The Internet is Everywhere

Anybody could tell you that if you want to have a successful marketing campaign, you need to (A) know who your target audience is, and (B) develop a message that will resonate with them.

One side effect of living in our global world, however, is that you’re potentially reaching an audience that’s much larger and more diverse than you could ever hope to anticipate.

In practice, what that means is that your digital marketing strategy is always a global marketing strategy, whether you design it that way or not.

And, of course, while targeted ad campaigns usually land very well with their target audience, they don’t always land as well with anyone that falls outside that group. The same rule applies to entire countries — highly localized ad campaigns can have disastrous results when moved to a new market.

Just look at Coors. Their “Turn it loose” campaign worked perfectly well in the U.S., but bombed in Spain, where the tagline translated into Spanish as “get loose bowels.”

If you can afford it, you might want to consider having your marketing material professionally localized to some of the world’s most commonly spoken languages (including Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, and Arabic).

But otherwise, always keep in mind that you can never know who might be reading your marketing material. Plan accordingly: your messaging needs to grow with your company. Shoot for common denominators and shy away from jargon. If you’re trying to make new friends, you don’t use all of your old inside jokes, right?


MORE: Learn more about globalization at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


2. Pictures Speak a Thousand Languages

We’ve all heard the old adage “a picture speaks a thousand words,” and it’s maybe even truer in the Emoji Age than it was back in the Industrial Age.

That rule doesn’t just apply to your text messages, however. It’s also essential thinking for marketers. If you really want to emotionally connect with your target audience, put a picture on that newsletter!

But if thinking pictorially is important for localized marketing, it’s especially important for any company that’s looking to tap into a global market. You can’t possibly write a block of text that will resonate with everyone on earth. Heck, you can’t even do that with everyone in your office. But if you get a picture of a couple of cute babies, you’ll have people going “Aww” anywhere on the planet.

So, as your company works to grow its message, make sure that that growth has a strong visual element, too. Whether it’s investing in a new logo or simply adding more pictures to your homepage, you want to be able to communicate your brand message before anyone even scrolls down to your “About Us” bio.

3. Don’t Speak for Your Customers — Hand Them the Mic Instead

It took Coca Cola forty years after its founding in the 1880s to take its first steps towards expanding into a global market. It took several more decades for that globalization initiative to really take hold and for Coca Cola to become the global household name it is today.

In contrast, it took Facebook just thirteen years to go from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room to a service with 1.65 billion active monthly users, expanding into every country on the planet in even less time.

So why did it take Coke upwards of a hundred years to become a global brand while Facebook took less than a decade to do the same thing?

Well, the most obvious reason is that Coke comes in a can that needs to get moved from a factory to the customer’s hands, while Facebook has approximately zero shipping and handling costs.

Aside from the obvious logistical problems of shipping aluminum cans halfway around the planet, however, you could say that the biggest difference between the two companies is that while Coke sells you a product, Facebook’s product is you.

Really, Facebook is just a platform where you go to sell yourself. Most of the marketing grunt work that went into turning Facebook into a global brand was done by its users themselves — every time you ask someone whether they took the Buzzfeed quiz you reposted last night, you’re essentially working as a Facebook brand ambassador.

But what can we take away from Facebook as a globalization case study?

The biggest lesson might be this: If you really want to tap into a global market, find a way to turn your company into a platform for your customers to stand on.

Admittedly, that goal might not be a possibility in every conceivable industry, but even if you can’t build a platform out of tax returns (no offense to all of the accountants out there), you can make one out of your own web presence.

Whether it’s retweeting your Twitter followers’ posts, tagging customers in pictures on your company’s Instagram, holding an open submission contest for your company blog, or simply leaving the comments sections open on all of your webpages, the easiest way to market to a global audience is to simply hand the microphone over to your customers. Find a way to be their megaphone, and the marketing will handle itself.

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