International Social Media: How to Go "Glocal".

Your brand may be international. Social media may be omnipresent. But your audiences are still local and your social marketing approach should be too.
Chris Sugrue
September 6, 2016 - 4 min. read

Social networks may connect the world, but it’s a mistake for international social media marketers to think they can use a one-size-fits-all approach for addressing their global fans. The somewhat paradoxical upshot of this connected world is that consumers expect personalized engagement. Your content must be relevant, which at the very least means being geared towards where your audiences live and work.

Blending “global” and “local”, “glocal” is more than just one of those grating bits of business jargon. Here it describes international brands adapting their social media profiles to be more engaging with local audiences.

Glocalizing is steadily becoming the international social media norm with larger brands, or at least those with larger social communities. Unsurprisingly, airlines led the way with channels divided by language to address real-time customer service issues; a smart move in an industry where an exasperating language barrier could quickly escalate a crisis.

Other brands frequently split up centralized marketing into local channels, as social engagement hinges on the ability of your communities to participate in a conversation. The baseline of a positive customer experience is an environment in which people feel comfortable engaging.

“The baseline of a positive customer experience is an environment in which people feel comfortable engaging.”

The top networks get it
In July, Facebook released its multilingual composer to the general public, which had been previously available to companies through its Pages service. This allows businesses to translate posts in 44 languages, albeit imperfectly. It’s the latest network feature designed to help businesses glocalize content.

Earlier Facebook introduced Local Awareness Ads that allow brands to target their local market. Meanwhile, Twitter Ads enables geo- and language-targeting, and Instagram has been geared to localization from day one with its location tagging. Pinterest also has its Promoted Pins service (US only) that lets you target by location.

Right language, check, but right voice?
Localizing content has always been a branding headache. The tricky balance is to facilitate brand experiences at a local level while staying true to the core brand identity. This is yet another area where a social media and customer experience management platform is vital – alongside clear guidelines.

Our customer Carlsberg manages 106 social channels in 56 countries. To ensure the more than 358 social employees stayed on brand they were all on-boarded onto the Falcon platform. The process included the introduction of flexible brand rules and familiarity with the platform’s content sharing, editing and governance features.


Carlsberg consolidated its 106 social channels using Falcon, as part of its “GloCal” initiative.

When to do it
Obviously, you should only localize pages where follower numbers merit it. Keep an eye on regional fan numbers, and a social listening ear on engagement in languages you don’t support. The opportunities are just waiting to be discovered. You can test the waters by geo-targeting your posts or trying local hashtags to weigh up whether a local page would be to your advantage. A multilingual social customer service rather than multiple pages with a handful of fans may be the better option for brands with smaller social followings.

If you do localize, don’t silo regions. Some international profiles make the mistake of automatically rerouting visitors from their main page to regional ones. In a multilingual world that’s as potentially limiting a mistake as sticking to one language. It also fractures your social presence from a branding point of view. Starbuck’s international Facebook page is a centralized and effective way to curate visitors to their regional pages, if that’s where they want to go.


Starbucks is noted for successfully adapting both its outlets and social presence to local communities while staying on brand.

But most of all, if you’re going to go glocal with social media: lean into it. Leverage national holidays, trends and events just as you would on main pages. Bear in mind that cultural misfires are even more perilous – or hilarious – in this viral environment, so if you don’t have a local community manager as a filter, proceed with caution. KPIs should also be considered and measured on a regional basis, taking into account local behavior and preferred channels.

You’re still talking to individuals
There is no surefire methodology for handling an international social media presence. But whether you’re engaging globally, locally or glocally, it could all be for nothing without a true understanding of who your audiences are.

For that purpose, a customer experience management tool such as our Audience profiles is a must. Among other insights, Audience allows you surface the topics trending in particular demographics and custom segments. That’s the kind of foundation needed to make glocalization an effective strategy. Because no matter the language or latitude, you can only really connect with people if you know why they’re willing to listen in the first place.

Carlsberg Case Study
Discover how Carlsberg manages international social media.