Visual content is a critical way to reach your global users.
We’re talking about images. Videos. Infographics. Anime. Memes and emoji.
People are simply wired to take in visual content faster and more effectively than text. Modern digital consumers demand snackable, bite-sized info: our declining attention span means we’ll tune out if your message is too long. (Check out this HubSpot listicle for stats on how important visual marketing is.)
These trends are global. As you take your product worldwide, you’ll fall behind if your content does not include and promote a broad range of visuals across markets—in local languages, and with local preferences and behaviors in mind.
The truth is that cultural and demographic differences are considerable challenges to international marketers. It can be a lot to sort out, but there are best practices that can help get you there.
Choose the right content type
You have to choose from a multitude of content types—images, videos, infographics, anime, memes, and emoji among them. But it’s not an ‘or’ situation—it’s ‘and’.
Video, though, is the global king. The explosion of video shared on social networks is massive—and a key opportunity for brands all over the world to capture market. Video must be a staple of every marketing strategy.
But what else?
Start with the preferences of your customer. Look at any demographic data that could influence buying preferences: gender, age, income, where they live, and where they go for information. In-country researchers should be able to give you this insight. You will see that the behavior of your target audience will differ from country to country. Then, choose your content type accordingly. For example:
- In Japan, anime, emoji, and memes are big.
- In America and China, short-form video dominates.
Adapt the content
You might create content and hope to use it as-is across cultures—but you’d be taking a risk if you do. Strong global marketing content is never neutral or generic—it just won’t reach audiences the way you want it to. Sometimes only custom content will do, so the answer is to adapt your content for specific markets.
Sometimes, more than a few changes will need to happen. Beyond translation, you should consider:
- Swapping out images in a campaign to make them appropriate for different countries around the globe.
- Changing colors. Colors can have different connotations in different regions. See this article for a fascinating rundown on colors in cultures.
- For video, determining whether your audience prefers dubbing in their language, or whether translated subtitles will work. (See here for some tips.)
- Knowing when you need to start over. Sometimes a piece just won’t work, and you’ll need to create a new one specific to your market.
(And if you have budget, consider either UX testing, which will show you how customers use and experience your content, or A/B testing, which allows customers to provide input on different options.)
Pick the right social channel
Despite being part of every marketer’s job, there’s limited time for social media marketing. So which social network should you focus your efforts on? Facebook, LinkedIn, WeChat, Twitter, Pinterest...?
The usage of social media sites varies a lot by country and demographic. You don’t want to waste your time posting content on social networks that your target locale doesn’t use. You need to understand how and where people find the content they like—in each of your markets.
A quick rundown:
- Facebook rules supreme in the US (89% of US internet users); Instagram comes in second with 32% penetration
- Asia Pacific favors QQ, WeChat, and Ozone
- Vk (previously known as VKontakte) is by far the most popular social media platform in Russia
- Mexicans love YouTube
See this blog post from smartinsights with a lot of useful content on global social media trends and usage.
You’ve now got brilliant visual content specific to your demographic, channel, and market. Now, back your investment with promotion. Get your content in front of people: place it everywhere they are in order to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Look at search marketing: SEO, paid social, and influencer marketing. For example, to promote a video for the US market, post it on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Use the rich targeting within Facebook: you know who your audience is and can specify that within the platform.
Face it: it’s a digital world, and visuals—the staple of digital content—meet the needs of users in this age. While it may not be simple to choose the right content for the right channels, a strategy for doing it has to be central to any global campaign.
With an understanding of these principles, your marketing department can choose, produce, and promote memorable and culturally targeted visual content.